Over the years, I’ve run into many interesting situations. Some might have caused significant financial damage, health-damage, or even loss of life.
Most recently in the past few weeks such a situation arose.
A chemical/biological laboratory was being constructed in a large building. As is the case for most labs of this type, being able to easily clean or wipe down the walls was important, and so was chemical resistance.
In the cases, epoxy coatings are most often specified. Flooring in such areas are also specified as being epoxy, again due to chemical resistance and ease of cleaning.
After the contractor coated the interior walls, but before the lab was turned over to the occupants, additional work was being done in the area. Accidentally, a flame or high intensity heat source contacted a wall coated with the epoxy.
It promptly ignited. Within literally 3-4 minutes the entire area was engulfed in flames. In addition to this destruction, heavy smoke and smoke particles rapidly spread to the surrounding areas.
Fortunately, there was no loss of life or health related issues that certainly would have occurred if the room had been occupied by laboratory staff. In many labs, leaving the area in the event of a fire is as simple as just opening a door and walking out. Staff may be in an adjoining room, or they may be enclosed in a special area sealed off from the rest of the lab. Getting out in these circumstances is very much a problem. If not for the fire, smoke rapidly reduces vision inhibiting the ability of staff to egress the area.
Labs have special requirements in terms of cleaning and chemical resistance. But also, building construction codes also call for NFPA 90A regulations to be met. The 90A requires a test entitled “Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics” to be run on the material in question. To pass, the results must show a Flame Spread of less than 25 units, and a Smoke Spread of less than 50 units.
In 2011 we developed the only paintable epoxy – V-4138 – that meets and exceeds NFPA 90A requirements. If fact, V-4138 is self-extinguishing if a 2,400 degree flame touches it. Had the lab walls been coated with this product, the significant financial damages would not have happened. And, had workers been in the lab at the time of the fire, no adverse effects on health or life would have occurred.
As of this writing, V-4138 is the only wall coating epoxy on the market. In conjunction with Secure Coat flooring, also NFPA rated and chemically resistant, the lab would have had the performance rating they desired as well as secured the safety of staff.
To find out more, contact technical support or customer service.
Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.