Fire Advantages of Polyurethane

Using non-combustible fibre-cement & steel facing panels with fire retarded Polyurethane foam core, the panels do not ignite when subjected to fire.

They are ideal for Building in Bushfire prone areas; fire uses enormous amounts of oxygen to feed the flames, the main entry is through windows and doors, fire also needs an exit to suck more oxygen to feed the flames, the natural exit is through the roof. As soon as the flames penetrate the roof the fire is out of control you can see this in fires shown on TV news.

Fire Advantages with Ecohousing’s Building Systems Roof Panels the fire will not penetrate the roof and it will not collapse in a fire, neither will the wall panels. By Fire proofing the window and doors you will be bush fire safe. Schools and other public buildings can be safe from being burnt down through Arson, saving millions of dollars in Insurance if built with Ecohousing Wall, Roof and Floor panels.

Terminology should not be confused over the two major Sandwich Panel Manufacturing processes. One is injected Polyurethane structural foam (PUR) the process used by Ecohousing Building Systems.

The other is glued in place Expanded Polystyrene foam (EPS) termed Polystyrene.

Polystyrene Sandwich Panel Fire Risk

Polystyrene sandwich panelling is an extremely fire hazardous material to use, especially as a sandwich panel, as the softening point of polystyrene is 100ºC and the melting point is only 180ºC. This is the temperature that you use when grilling a steak, a light bulb gets to 280ºC, pentane a key component of Polystyrene ignites at this temperature. In a fire once this temperature is reached the sandwich panel loses its integrity, collapsing allowing the pentane gas of the melting polystyrene to ignite. Flash over then occurs and sets fire to the rest of the polystyrene foam, travelling within the sandwich panel adding a huge fire load. Within minutes the entire building will be destroyed due to the collapsing roof and walls.

The risk of people being trapped and killed by the rapid spread of the fire with the napalm effect of molten polystyrene dripping from the sandwich panels is very real. In other countries prosecution which involved criminal chargers has resulted from non-disclosure of EPS product fire risks.

Insurance companies are now refusing to insure commercial buildings & cold rooms etc, manufactured with Polystyrene due to its fire hazard. Examples of this include the Tip Top Bread complex fire in 2002 causing $100million damages, the $8 million Detention centre fires in 2002, the Queensland Polystyrene Panel fire in a meat processing plant in 2001 causing an approximately $25 million in damages and the biggest fire in NZ the Poultry Abattoir in 2007 causing $NZ 50 million to $NZ 100 million dollars in damages.

Customers should be warned of the dangers of EPS by the manufactures of the Polystyrene sandwich panels. Not notifying their customers of this risk could be deemed reckless or even product disclosure negligence.

The Nauru Detention Centre Fires

on Sunday July 21st 2013 highlights the Australian Authorities inability to come to grips with the need to build Detention Centre Accommodation Buildings that cannot readily be set on fire by simply using Cigarette lighters to light the highly flammable Expanded Polystyrene “EPS” building panels these buildings are made from.

In this case at Nauru the inmates of the centre were refugee boat people, they did not have access to the amount of fuel it would take to cause this amount of damage had the buildings been made of normal building materials, The inmates made sure to evacuate all the buildings prior to lighting the fires, otherwise the death toll would have been catastrophic, they were well aware that the fuel was lodged in the building panels themselves and they only had to use cigarette lighters to ignite this fuel i.e. the Polystyrene Core.
This same procedure have been used in Detention Centres for  a decade now  starting with the numerous fires in 2003  where 5 detention Centres were set alight over Christmas 2003, most burning simultaneous as the inmates of the various camps – Baxter in South Australia on December 27th 2003 quickly followed by Port Headland – Woomera – Christmas Island  – and Villawood in Sydney, the various detention centre camp inmates simply called each other on mobile phones with instructions on how to tear the metal sheeting of the panels in a corner of the panels (you can do this with your bare hands) then simply setting the Polystyrene alight with a cigarette lighter.
More Fires followed again at the Baxter facility on November 2005 – Villawood Sydney again on April 20th 2011 – Darwin August 31st 2011, I may have missed some however it is mind boggling that The Australian Government again allowed a detention centre to be build using exactly the same fire hazardous Polystyrene materials that burnt down the numerous detention centres as recorded here, when Authorities would have known quite well why they were so easy to destroy.

The cost to the Australians Tax Payers runs into Billions of Dollars.

So what begs the Question is:

  1. Why did the Australian Government allow these hazardous Polystyrene building products to be used on a Government project in Nauru in 2013?
  2. It was reported that Insurance was paid out on the Fire in Nauru, when it is a well-known fact that Insurance companies refuse to pay out on Polystyrene insulated commercial buildings. This has been the case for a number of years now resulting in major manufacturers of Cold-rooms having been forced to cease manufacturing Cold-rooms with Polystyrene cores and having to use the far more expensive  Fire safe product of PIR Polyurethane as the core.
  3. What building materials are to be used for the re-building of the Nauru detention centre camps this time, materials that will not burn or the same Polystyrene building panels as usual, with no regard for the subsequent cost of rebuilding the camps when they are burnt down again ?.

Tonny Bergqvist