Passive fire & blast-resistant for industry

Published:  01 September, 2006

President of Durasystems Barriers Inc, Craig Pickering, definitely feels his company has the answer to fire  blast resistance problems with a material called DuraSteel. He spoke to Aidan Turnbull while exhibiting this key product at the NFPA Show in Orlando, Florida in June:

“DuraSteel is manufactured using a unique formula to produce a non-combustible, cementitious-fibre core reinforced by mechanically-bonded galvanised steel sheeting. This incorporates unrivalled features, and provides extremely strong fire resistant material.”
DuraSystems Barriers Inc. is a North America-based manufacturer with over 20 years of proven performance specialising in passive fire protection systems for commercial, institutional and industrial sectors.
Founded by Bill Duffy, a contractor on London’s famous Canary Wharf project, DuraSystems now plays a major role in providing fire and blast-rated ventilation systems, blast-enclosures, barriers, walls, ceilings, floors and doors made from this material.
“DuraSteel is the primary reason for the success of DuraSystems as a company. DuraSteel has been tested to meet and/or surpass accepted standards for fire rating, blast resistance, moisture resistance, and noise-attenuation,” says Craig.
DuraSteel systems can also be engineered to provide explosion and blast resistance followed by prolonged fire exposure. DuraSteel, in conjunction with the Steel Construction Institute, developed a computer program that can design blast-resistant walls and doors that can resist hydrocarbon blasts and post-blast fires. 
Lloyds of London has provided certification that acknowledges approval of any wall designed under this program.  This certificate is something few - if any - other products or companies have obtained.
 “A unique fit-and-forget barrier, DuraSteel meets all relevant Building Regulations worldwide and is now considered a vital component of building design.
DuraSteel offers a complete containment system - a solution that’s been tried and tested under the most extreme conditions and never beaten in practice.
“This has resulted in products being specified by key clients such as Defence Departments, major industries and utilities in Europe and North America.
Architects and mechanical design consultants have also chosen DuraSteel for landmark projects such as Goldman Sachs building in New York City, the new terminal at Heathrow, the Jubilee Line Extension, The New Jersey Light Rail System, Extension 7 New York City Subway, The British Museum and various other major installations,” he comments.
How does it work?
DuraSteel is a composite sheet made with a core of fibre cement sandwiched between mechanically bonded galvanised steel facings. Its exceptional fire protection is combined with lightness and durability, says the manufacturer.
Craig knows it makes a very special building material: “It can withstand prolonged exposure to fire - up to six hours - and, while hot, will withstand spray from firefighters’ hoses or sprinkler action. There’s not many products you can say that about. DuraSteel is also renowned for its impact and blast resistance - particularly relevant in these troubled times.”
Typical areas of use include distribution, storage and warehousing, military buildings, petrochemical plants and offshore platforms, airports, underground train stations, road and rail tunnels, utilities’ installations.
Where can it be used?
DuraSteel has been tested to comply with most relevant standards and codes including ASTM, UL/ULC, Lloyds Register, SOLAS, LPC, DNV and British Standards. DuraSystem pre-engineered and modular barrier systems have been calculated for use up to 33 feet for fire protection while meeting design criteria for wind loads including category 5 hurricanes at this height.  These Barriers can also be designed upon request for heights exceeding 33 feet and can also be designed to withstand blasts over 2 Bar.
DuraSteel doorsets are also available. These offer up to four hours fire protection and are available in a wide range of configurations, from single and twin to sliding, trap and oversized.
Ductwork systems DuraDuct and DuraDuct LT also provide up to two hours’ protection. Virtually maintenance-free, these are also ‘fit-and-forget’ solutions for internal and external applications.  Blast tested using 9 lbs of C4 they showed virtually little to no effect on the fire rated duct systems.  Both duct systems have been tested by UL to ISO standards and have been installed in projects including HQ5 at Canary Wharf, University Of Toronto, Georgia Tech. Department of National Defence, Plantation Place in London and York’s Monk Cross office development.
“In summary,” says Craig, “DuraSteel is a unique non-combustible material that comes in either galvanised, stainless or speciality metals. Quick and easy to install, it offers a safer environment in applications that require structural strength and integrity.
“Today, DuraSystems is using DuraSteel in a variety of applications by companies as diverse as Baltimore Gas & Electric, USA; the Georgia Power Plant; Shell Oil, USA; the UK’s Heathrow Airport; Canada’s Toronto Airport; Pemex - Mexico; Arco Refinery - France; MRCT - Singapore and the Ferry Terminal - Macao - to name but a few.”
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