Fire Retardent Materials

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by sailaway, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

    Has anyone considdered incorporating fire retatdent materials into their bug out cabin? I'm thinking about metal roofing and maybe plaster board or metal siding. There seems to be alot on the news lately about wild fires everywhere. Oklahoma, Florida and the usual Santa Anna Winds in California.

    A fire research center in South Carolina is running an experiment today. They have built a 1200 sq. ft. house, wood sided and asphalt shingled roof and will be blowing burning embers on it to observe how it ignites.

    Fire is one of the issues I have considdered when thinking about the cabin I want to build. One of my major issues for a cabin is something obscure so maybe earth shelter is the way to go.:dunno:
  2. ZoomZoom

    ZoomZoom Rookie Prepper

    I'm a very big fan of HardyPanel or other Hardy products. It's siding material that looks like wood but is concrete based. It won't burn, rot or anything else. I have it on the exterior of all my buildings.

  3. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    If you want to be able to live inside the building while a wild-fire is burning outside, you will want to find a way to double-insulate the building - first layer will protect the second layer of insulation from melting / burning.

    Making the the outter layer from fire-brick (cinder-block) will create your first layer of insulation from the extreme heat. Windows (normal glass) can melt / explode so you will want to find a way to insulate them from the extreme heat as well or build with glass that is rated fire-proof / fire-resistant like this product from Glassopolis. Run a layer of fire-proof insulation then make the inner wall.

    For the roof, heavy-guage metal with an air-gap and a second layer of heavy-guage metal would keep all but the most determined fire from getting inside. Metal rafters holding the roof in place welded to the inner roof-layer and then stand-offs welded to the outside of the inner roof and then bolt-down the outter roof to the stand-offs ... should work!

    An alternative would be to build a firewall around your property with the tallest burning tree only reaching half-way to your house from where it stands. Gravel / dirt / concrete ground will not burn so you would only need to worry about stuff falling towards the home.

    The next idea would be to go 6' below ground surface - the heat from a fire rarely can penetrate that deep - a concrete-tube with man-hole cover could give you the protection you need. Make sure that you have good water-drainage so that you don't get flooded out during the rainy-season.
  4. Virgil_cain

    Virgil_cain Active Member

    In addition to building a structure that will withstand the heat (and I do think a good firebreak is a must) you're going to have to worry about getting breathable air. The air near a forest fire will be contaminated with all sorts of particulates (which are probably the easiest thing to get rid of) and dangerous gasses like Carbon Monoxide, volatile hydrocarbons, and possibly excessive CO2. Also, the air temperature may have to be cooled to be breathable (even clean air will kill you if it's hot enough).

    I would think an in-earth shelter with a decent firebreak would be a good start. I fear that any above ground structure that is robust enough to withstand the heat may be prohibitively expensive. Filtering will remove the particulates, and active charcoal can remove the volatile hydrocarbons, but CO removal might be difficult. I suppose you could use iron oxide to convert CO to CO2 (Fe2O3 + 3CO -> 2Fe + 3CO2) and let a CO2 scrubber handle the carbon dioxide. Not sure what the CO2 levels around a forest fire look like, they will be elevated but I don't know if they are elevated enough to be of a concern. That would take a little research. Of course, CO2 can be removed by various means (calcium oxide (quicklime), lithium hydroxide, etc.). Carbon Monoxide is probably your worst issue.

    Another advantage of an in-earth shelter is that it offers the potential to protect against ionizing radiation if so designed, which is very expensive to achieve in an above ground structure.
  5. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    you can check out *Barricade* Thermo-Gel

    [ame=]YouTube - thermogel[/ame]

  6. tyler_kd0bsa

    tyler_kd0bsa Well-Known Member

    When and if I ever decide to built I've been looking at a monolithic dome. Most often they are just plastered concrete on the outside and concrete is a good fire blocking material. And other bonus to them is they tend to be very energy efficient for heating and cooling.
  7. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    actually concrete has a TERRIBLE R-value for its thickness, it has a lot of mass though, if you're thinking of utilizing thermal mass heating/cooling...

    by this chart 10" of concrete has < r-value 1
    R-Value Table

    AAC (Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) isn't as strong, but is much lighter and has a much higher r-value (10.5) and various DBMS & Requiv

    now if only they made AAC "Litracon" (a translucent concrete building material made of fine concrete embedded with optical glass fibers (4%-6% by weight))
  8. tyler_kd0bsa

    tyler_kd0bsa Well-Known Member

    Doing some more research they use a shotcrete mixture with some sort of fiberglass and some other reinforcing materials. And on the inside there is about 3 inches of polyurethane foam.
  9. Virgil_cain

    Virgil_cain Active Member

    If I'm not mistaken those types of thermo gels are not spray once and forget. The have a limited lifespan (on the order of days if I recall). The way you're supposed to use them is to spray a structure in anticipation of a wildfire on the way. They do work but if the fire gets to your structure before you've sprayed it down you're screwed. Likewise, if you have a limited quantity and spray the structure too soon there is the possibility that the gel will have dried out too much in the interim to be effective.
  10. weedygarden

    weedygarden Well-Known Member

    Your topic is one that I have thought about.

    If you are in a fireproof structure and there is a wildfire around you, will the fire consume all the oxygen? How can you survive a situation like this?

    I have thought that being below ground would protect you from the heat of the fire, but will the oxygen be sucked out of anything and everything by the fire?

    Is there a way to prepare and protect oneself in a situation such as this?
  11. Virgil_cain

    Virgil_cain Active Member

    After doing reading on this topic, I don't think that O2 depletion is the biggest problem. The biggest problems are particulates (smoke) and combustion products, which include carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 can be removed with a scrubber. CO is the biggest problem I think. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is quite deadly. The CO binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells and ties them up and makes them useless for delivering oxygen to the body's tissue and organs. It can be scrubbed out chemically, but CO scrubber plans do not seem to be readily available. There are a few well known chemical processes that convert CO to CO2, which could then be removed with a standard CO2 scrubber.

    Obviously, the particulates can be removed with a decent filter.
  12. Grizz

    Grizz Well-Known Member

    Been there many times!!!

    I have taken shelter in many homes as fire burned around them and my Fire Engine. If your house is even fairly air tight, you will have more air than you would use in an entire day. Don't forget that Carbon Monoxide detectors are required in all home that have any fossil fuel uses in the house ( heating, hot water, etc).A fire proof house above ground would be very expensive. The goal should be a Fire resistant house. With the building codes in California and required clearances your house should survive and fire without any outside help. However if you were to do all the work to make your house survival, That does not mean your neighbors would and if they live right next to your house, that could be your biggest problem. Here are a few things I consider when rating houses as winners that we will protect, and losers that I will not send a fire engine in to protect.
    1. Love metal roofs, Comp shingles are fine, both must be clean of leaves as well as clean gutters.
    2. a driveway that we can turn around in and that is not over grown and will hamper us leaving if needed
    3. Fire resistant vegetation for the first 100' from the house
    4. Major vegetation reduction for the next 200'
    5. A water source for any Fire Engine. Above ground tank, Swimming pool, etc..
    6.If you have time throw all your patio furniture in the pool or in the garage.
    7. shut off the gas only if you know how to relight the pilot lights.
    8. do not shut off your power.
    9. Close all windows and doors remove all light weight window coverings. heavy drapes will be fine.
    10. turn off all swamp coolers and A/C.
    11. make sure your fuel tanks have atleast 30' clearance
    12. Green belts around the house, Gardens, lawns, etc..
    13. Wood piles 50' or more from the house, because we will let these burn and move on to the next structures.
    14. my 2 cents