Fire safety is a critical consideration in various environments, and the concept of non-combustibility plays a vital role in ensuring the protection of lives and properties.
Non-combustible materials are specifically engineered to resist ignition, combustion, and the propagation of flames when exposed to fire or high temperatures. In this article, we delve into the significance of non-combustibility in relation to acoustic walling and ceiling linings, explore its distinction from Group 1 ratings, and highlight the use of innovative materials that combine fire resistance with the aesthetic appeal of natural timber.
What is non-combustibility?
The term "non-combustible" refers to materials that do not ignite, burn, or support combustion when exposed to fire or high temperatures. Non-combustible materials are resistant to catching fire and do not contribute to the spread of flames or the release of flammable gases.
Non-combustible materials are designed to withstand exposure to heat and flames, making them crucial for ensuring fire safety in various applications. Non-combustible materials play a vital role in minimising the risk of fire incidents and reducing the potential for property damage, injuries, and loss of life.
To be classified as non-combustible, a material typically needs to meet specific criteria and undergo rigorous testing according to established standards and regulations such as the National Construction Code (NCC).
These tests evaluate the material's behaviour when exposed to high temperatures, flame, or direct contact with fire sources. The results determine whether the material can be classified as non-combustible or if it falls into a different fire-resistance category, such as combustible or fire-resistant.
Non-combustible materials are commonly used in areas where fire safety is paramount, such as external walls. They provide a passive fire protection measure by limiting the spread of fire and helping to contain it within a specific area, allowing for safe evacuation and minimising property damage.
The difference between non-combustible and Group 1
Non-combustible and Group 1-rated products are both associated with fire safety, but they refer to different classifications and standards. Here's an explanation of each term:
Non-combustible materials, as previously described, are substances that do not ignite, burn, or contribute to the spread of flames when exposed to fire or high temperatures. These materials have undergone testing and meet specific criteria to be classified as non-combustible. Examples of non-combustible materials include certain types of cementitious boards, such as DecorLux, and metal panels such as DecorSlat Ali and DecorMetl
Non-combustible materials are highly resistant to fire and are essential in applications where fire safety is a primary concern.
DecorSlat Ali used at Hutt Street Community Centre
Group 1-Rated Products
Group 1-rated products, on the other hand, are typically associated with the classification system developed by the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA's Group Number Classification rates materials based on their fire propagation properties and contribution to fire growth. Group 1 is the highest rating within this classification and represents materials with the lowest contribution to fire. Products classified as Group 1 have undergone testing and meet specific fire performance criteria outlined by the BCA.
While both non-combustible materials and Group 1-rated products are associated with fire safety, the distinction lies in the evaluation methods and standards used to determine their fire performance.
Non-combustible refers to a material's inherent ability to resist combustion and not contribute to the spread of fire. Group 1 rating, on the other hand, is a specific classification within the BCA system, indicating that a product has met the stringent fire performance requirements set forth by the BCA.
It's important to note that fire safety regulations and classification systems may vary across different regions and countries. Therefore, specific definitions and requirements for non-combustible materials and Group 1-rated products may differ depending on the applicable local building codes and standards.
Harmonising Fire Safety and Aesthetics. Non-Combustible Acoustics Emulating Natural Timber
We have been working on innovative new solutions that use non-combustible materials like aluminium and fibre cement, with innovative finishes such as woodgrain foils and printing techniques that effortlessly emulate the appearance of natural timber.
Not only do these new finishes genuinely resemble timber, when paired with aluminium or fibre cement, but they also surpass expectations in terms of non-combustibility and moisture resistance.
Can you tell which sample is finished with a veneer and which is finished with printed fibre cement?
Each comes with a selection of woodgrain finishes that, when installed, offer the look of a natural timber beam with the performance capabilities of a non-combustible product.
Fairfield RSL, Altis Architecture, NSW
In the above image, DecorSlat AliSorb was used in an external area of a hospitality venue. The area was subjected to outdoor elements as well as smoking patrons and needed to be incredibly durable whilst also managing the acoustics of the busy space.
DecorLux is made of perforated fibre cement which is non-combustible. Decor Systems has developed a print finish that strikingly emulates the appearance of genuine timber veneer, as shown in the image above.
The advancements in fibre cement printing technology have enabled the seamless integration of aesthetics and performance, allowing both aspects to flourish in perfect harmony.
The print options are endless with DecorLux and can be paired with our Natural Timber Veneer or SmartLook range of MDF products.
Bushfire Centre of Excellence, Site Architecture, WA
In the Bushfire Centre of Excellence (above), DecorZen was used internally in a Hoop Pine finish. To match this finish but withstand the harsh outdoor environment, DecorLux fibre cement panels were used on the external eaves in a printed Hoop Pine colour. The result is a design consistency and a seamless finish from the outside in.
The use of non-combustible products in combination with MDF products such as DecorZen or DecorTrend offers several advantages, including the ability to match finishes and achieve a cohesive aesthetic. By utilising non-combustible materials, it becomes possible to maintain consistency in appearance throughout a space, creating a unified and harmonious design.
DecorLux on the ceiling of a School Hall at Glenmore Park High School, NSW
The ability to match finishes with non-combustible products is particularly advantageous in areas where fire safety is a concern, such as corridors, exit paths, or high-risk zones. These areas often have specific fire safety requirements but also need to blend seamlessly with the overall design intent.
DecorLux with a printed finish can allow for the integration of fire-resistant elements without compromising the overall aesthetics or creating visual disruptions.
Other non-combustible acoustics in the Decor Systems range
Metal products are inherently non-combustible due to the properties of the material itself, so our entire metal range, including DecorMetl, DecorMetl Mesh and Olympia are deemed non-combustible.
Commercial Office Space, NSW
Here are some key reasons why metal is considered non-combustible:
High Melting Point
Metals generally have high melting points compared to other materials. This means they can withstand exposure to high temperatures without melting or igniting. The high melting point helps prevent the material from contributing to the spread of fire.
Lack of Organic Content
Unlike materials such as wood, fabric, or paper, metals do not contain organic compounds that can readily burn. Combustion requires the presence of organic matter that can undergo chemical reactions with oxygen to sustain a fire. Since metals are primarily composed of metallic elements and lack organic content, they do not provide fuel for combustion.
Poor Thermal Conductivity
Metals have low thermal conductivity, which means they do not readily transfer heat. When exposed to fire, metals absorb and dissipate heat quickly, preventing the material from reaching its ignition temperature. This property helps prevent the initiation or spread of fire.
Oxide Layer Formation
Many metals naturally form an oxide layer when exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere. This oxide layer acts as a protective barrier, inhibiting further oxidation or reaction with heat and flames. The oxide layer helps to maintain the structural integrity of the metal and prevents it from easily catching fire.
While Cewood is Group 1 fire-rated (rather than non-combustible), a flashover point was not reached during the test period of 20 minutes.
Cewood is made from cement and wood. The cement component renders it resistant to fire.
One School, NSW
Is Acoustic Fleece Non-Combustible?
Glad you asked! We are proud to offer an innovative acoustic backing option that provides both exceptional sound absorption and non-combustible properties.
Our acoustic fleece is made from a patented material renowned for its unique combination of acoustic performance and fire resistance. The product has undergone rigorous testing, including BS476 Part 4 non-combustibility, and has been proven to be non-combustible. It holds a BCA (Building Code of Australia) AS5637.1 and ISO 5660 Group 1 Fire Classification, meeting the stringent requirements outlined by the IMO Resolution A653(16).
With a remarkable temperature resistance of up to 550℃, this product ensures not only outstanding sound control but also enhances the overall fire safety of your space.
Please note that the non-combustible fleece option must be requested and is not standard.
Melbourne University, Lyons Architecture, VIC
In conclusion, non-combustible acoustics have emerged as a crucial solution for enhancing fire safety while maintaining aesthetic appeal in various environments.
The use of non-combustible materials, such as aluminium, fibre cement, and metals, ensures resistance to ignition, combustion, and flame propagation. These materials play a vital role in minimising the risk of fire incidents, reducing property damage, and safeguarding lives.
By harmonising fire safety and aesthetics, innovative finishes like woodgrain foils and printing techniques allow non-combustible products to emulate the natural beauty of timber without compromising their fire-resistant properties.
DecorLux panels line the walls of the Sports Hall at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, NSW
The combination of non-combustible materials with products like MDF and SmartLook, offers numerous advantages, including the ability to match finishes, create cohesive designs, and maintain consistency in appearance.
With exceptional sound absorption and non-combustible properties, these innovations provide enhanced fire safety and acoustic performance in various applications.
Ultimately, non-combustible acoustics provide a reliable and visually appealing solution for ensuring fire safety without compromising on design.
Check out the Combustibility Test
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