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Sponsored: A Greener Way to Slow the Burn 

By / June 20, 2018

How fire retardant treated wood is changing the way we build for fire safety.

Buildings have always been designed to protect and safeguard the people and things that occupy them. One of the constant threats to a building’s integrity is fire. Yet over the past century-plus of innovations in building materials, no one has developed a more sustainable fire resistant product than fire retardant treated wood (FRTW).

Fire retardant treating creates a chemical barrier that restricts the flame spread along the wood. Allweather Wood uses the D-Blaze® preservative, manufactured by Viance, LLC, an industry leader in the development of advanced building material solutions that improve the performance and durability of wood products for sustainable building.

The preservative is not just on the wood surface, but infused deep into the wood to provide durable, safe, and long-lasting protection. The treating process utilizes pressure that forces the fire retardant into the wood fiber. While wood that has been treated with a fire retardant cannot claim to be non-combustible, the retardant reacts within a burning environment to slow the speed of the burn and limit the spread of fire. Wood becomes fuel for a fire when the cellulose and lignin in the wood produce flammable gases that combine with oxygen to feed and expand the fire. The fire retardant used to treat wood uses the heat of the fire to release carbon dioxide and water vapor within the retardant, diluting the combustible gases.

Identifying wood that has been pressure treated with a fire retardant is made easier with labeling requirements from the International Building Code. The code details specific information that must appear on the label, which is typically applied as a stamp on the wood. The label requirements are found in Chapter 23, Section 2303.2.4 of the International Building Code.

There are specific requirements set by the International Building Code for what is acceptable for FRTW products. In addition, there are other standards and certifications that apply to the use of FRTW from organizations like the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Military.

Even when pressure treated, wood is the more sustainable construction material to choose. Recent Life Cycle Assessments have found that pressure treated wood framing uses less energy, fossil fuels and water than galvanized steel framing. And, for projects pursuing Green certifications, it also helps that some of the most popular fire retardant treatments, namely D-Blaze®, are GreenGuard Gold certified with no VOCs and no formaldehyde. This means that FRTW products like D-Blaze can be used in sensitive environments such as schools, healthcare facilities, hotels and multi-family construction projects.

Couple all of that with certification from the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C102121), and the commitment of lumber manufacturer’s to maintaining a healthy growing environment for their products, the benefits of FRTW are enough to merit consideration for your next green building project.

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