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I have a need to build a room that is resonably fire resistant. I have played around the thought of adding fire resistant panels underneath the dry wall, but if they heat up too much, they themselves with catch anything behind them on fire. The room is in the basement, so the floor is on the foundation but the ceiling and the three internal walls are shared with other rooms. The house is made or brick. I would go as far as to destroying the three walls and putting in concrete with re-bar, but the ceiling is my main concern.

I need a room to contain a device that is capable of internally heating itself to 3000 kelvin. I do not expect the room it get that hot, however, if the device malfunctioned it would get pretty hot, as the room is 20x20x12.AND the longest this room would be unchecked during the operation of the device is around 20 min.(this goes without saying that if the fire burned through the room, my home fire alarm would alert the fire dept.)

Can this be done, and if so, how? Clarification: I need this to be fire PROOF not super resistant, resistant is not enough. I know it can be done by turning my basement into a furnace, but I was hoping there was a slightly simpler solution.

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Fire rating is usually measured in minutes. Do you have an idea of how long you want to contain a fire? –  James Van Huis Feb 1 '11 at 18:28
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the 'fire rating' for storage cabinets and safes are based on the time that it'd take for paper to reach its flashpoint if in a 1700°F fire. Now, most fires aren't that hot (but in this case, we're talking about almost 5000°F ... those ratings are going to be useless) –  Joe Feb 1 '11 at 19:00
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What is this mysterious device? –  Shimon Rura Feb 1 '11 at 19:14
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I suspect that @allindal is the Human Torch's secret identity. –  Doresoom Feb 1 '11 at 19:40
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I would advise against putting such a device in such a vulnerable location. May as well stack dynamite next to the open fire. –  John Gardeniers Feb 10 '11 at 1:48

6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I might add that the primarily "fire rating" of wall and floor/ceiling assemblies is to allow occupants to safely exit the building, not to keep the building from burning down. The Type X gyp board affords some protection because the inherent moisture in the product can slow down the fire through your wall or ceiling. With these assemblies, you are basically looking at a way to escape the situation before your obvious portal to Hades has the structure tumbling upon you. Perhaps you should also look into a fire suppression system--not sure what the initial source of flame is (what might be burning other than building components), but sprinkler heads tied to a detector might be a good idea.

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Is there any better fire suppression system than water sprinklers? –  allindal Feb 9 '11 at 1:45
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@allindal - the suppression system really should depend on the likely source of the fire - in the rest of the house, a sprinkler is likely to be the best bet, but in the 'fireproof' room, you may want something else, depending on the heat source. The important thing is to NOT put in a suppression system that will only make things worse (for instance, if we're talking flammable liquids that float on water, then water sprinklers are a bad idea - they actually help the fire spread!). CO2, Halon, etc, etc, are all available, but pricier, and require more maintenance than water. –  Michael Kohne Apr 5 '11 at 17:53

As this is not much hotter then the inside of some halogen light bulbs, it all depends on how much heat you are dealing with as well as the temperature.

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I don't think you're likely to be able to build something practically that will withstand those kinds of temperatures. Perhaps you'd be better off making a sealed area/room that is reasonably fire resistant and installing a sprinkler/inert gas fire supression system?

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I say that you should wrap the walls of your room in fire brick, like a fireplace, and then let the demon roar free. :)

This answer is partly for amusement, but also serious: do you want to slow down a fire, or actually make the room fire proof? How likely is it that things will get out of control?

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1/2" drywall carries a 30 minute fire rating. This can be increased to 1 hour by upgrading to a fire-rated (Type X) 5/8" drywall. For a 2 hour wall, you can stack sheets one over another (stagger the seams).

In your situation, I would probably do metal studs (which provide higher fire rating than wood). Add a double layer of Type X drywall, along with a fire rated door. Be aware that any outlet boxes or other holes you put in the firewall will likely act as an exit point for fire, so try to minimize the number of holes you put in the wall (more info).

You will also want to think about a smoke detector for your setup. You have not stated what the object that is heating up is, but I suspect that there are some fumes or exhaust gasses which will escape from the object, and may trigger a false alarm. You will likely need to experiment with different smoke detector types to figure out what will work for your setup. You also need to make sure you are able to hear the alarm when it goes off (the fire door and fire rated drywall will be quite soundproof). They sell networked alarms or alarms with relay switches to trigger remote alarms if necessary.

Having said all of this, you may want to consider if it would be better to place this item in a small standalone shed away from your house. If you have the space for it, this would likely be a lot safer then having this item indoors.

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for electrical outlets you might want to look at protecting them with Intumescent Putty Pads –  flamingpenguin Feb 2 '11 at 12:34
    
How can 1/2 drywall have a 30 min heat rating against 3000 kelvin? –  allindal Feb 5 '11 at 2:07
    
Well, the fire that reaches the drywall is not going to be 3000K. Whatever it is, the piece of equipment he is talking about will only generate that temperature internally (likely in a very small, tightly sealed cavity). A fire generated from that device will likely be much cooler, and should behave similar to any other household fire. –  James Van Huis Feb 7 '11 at 15:46

I personally wouldn't recommend that you put this inside your house. If you really have something that gets that hot, I'd be looking into building a separate structure away from the main building. This was actually pretty typical in early America -- the kitchens of large homes were in an outbuilding, so should there be a fire, it only burned down the kitchen.

I'm no expert on fire resistance, but I'd look to instructions on how to build a brick barbeque. (normally, they're made from more than one layer of brick, with a special 'fire brick' on the inside). If you used two walls, and left a void in between, you could fill it with vermiculite or perlite, which are the typical filling for fire safes.

I would avoid steel in the construction, especially in the roof, as repeated heating would cause it to sag; I'd probably use wood, with the assumption that if there were a disaster, the roof could be replaced.

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It would severely handicap the usefulness if it was outside. There is fire brick on the floor, the problem is that the brick heats up rapidly. –  allindal Feb 5 '11 at 2:03
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@allindal : it might, but if you end up burning down your house, you have a good chance that your insurance company won't pay out; it's like anything -- is the benefit worth the risk? –  Joe Feb 5 '11 at 2:08
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The insurance policy has been adjusted, I had a guy come over. –  allindal Feb 5 '11 at 2:15
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@allindal ... oh, okay ... if you're really sure you want to do this ... you might want to see what full specifications of Firex boards are, as they claim : "The FIREX BOARD Suspended Ceiling System is the world's highest fire-rated system using a single layer of 6 mm FIREX BOARD, which achieved a fire rating of 5 hours integrity at 1200 °C in accordance with the BS 476: Part 22: 1987." ... and if it's mostly radiant heat, you might be able to put some sort of reflective layer on it. –  Joe Feb 5 '11 at 2:26
    
this look promising, I'll look into it and will get back to you later –  allindal Feb 5 '11 at 2:32

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