You might live in a brick-built house, or your surrounding buildings are made of bricks; whichever it is, brick is one of the most sourced building materials around the globe.
And as buildings are primarily made to shelter us or protect our wealth, you might ask, can brick-made structures protect us from the fire?
Why not take some time and let’s understand if bricks can protect us and our assets from fire!
Can bricks burn or catch on fire?
Bricks, in general, are resistant to burn and also don’t catch on fire. Although brick can burn depending on the materials and the fire temperature, it does not catch on fire, mainly because the brick was made by burning clay at high temperatures and has no flammable ingredient left in it.
Genuine clay brick has a longer reputation for resistance against fire than many other building materials. These bricks have low heat conductivity, which means, bricks pass very low heat through it, and bricks can sustain heat up to 1200°-1600° C.
Due to clay, its primary material being fired at high temperature, which is up to 2000°° F, bricks show strong resistance against fire in general.
Also, due to the absence of any flammable material that may make brick vulnerable to fire or reduce resistance against fire, bricks do not catch on fire.
Bricks can catch on fire only if the brick is soaked in a highly flammable liquid. The fire caught on the brick only burns the flammable liquid and stops when no such liquid remains in the brick.
If a brick is exposed to high flame for a long term, the brick turns into black powder dirt.
Is brick fire resistant? Is red brick fireproof?
As a result of being made in a fire kiln, bricks show strong character as a fire-resistant material.
Due to its low tendency towards getting burned or catching on fire, bricks stand long against usual fire risks and can show resistance for one to four hours in high temperatures.
But bricks that are not burnt in a fire kiln, such as sand-lime bricks, fly ash bricks, or sun-dried bricks might show less resistance to fire than red bricks.
Redbrick is one of the most fire-resistant building materials. If used good quality clay and burned with the proper method, red bricks form the strongest and can be fireproof to any regular fire incident.
Although if the material is of poor quality or the brick is exposed to high flame such as blowtorch, this brick won’t sustain against fire.
What happens to brick in a fire?
Bricks show lots of characteristics in the fire. Such as-
Low thermal conductivity:
Due to the low thermal conductivity, brick surely does not let heat pass through it. Instead, a brick in fire will absorb heat.
As there is no flammable ingredient in brick, the brick will not catch on any fire.
Unless the brick is soaked in a flammable liquid such as octane, diesel, or petrol, the fire will burn the brick until flammable liquids are not consumed.
Losing the shape:
If the brick is kept in the fire for too long, and most importantly, if the fire has a high temperature, for instance, more than 1200° C, the ingredients in brick will lose their characteristics- reducing the atomic bond the brick will turn into black powder dust.
Fire resistance in action:
However, in general, brick is very fire-resistant, so brick is used for building fireplaces, pizza ovens, and even clay pots, which are used for cooking in many countries have a similar making technique as a brick.
How do you know if a brick is fire safe?
As there are many types of brick available in the market, choosing a brick that keeps you safe from fire should be a priority. Bricks might vary due to their making technique or the materials used for making them.
Fly ash bricks:
Fly ash bricks are made with materials such as cement, sand, and mortar, and they were sun-dried. Because mortar has low heat resistance, this brick cannot stand against fire.
Sun-dried clay bricks:
Sun-dried clay bricks have a similar material as red bricks. But they were sun-dried until they were dehydrated under the outdoor temperature. Needless to say, many flammable objects remain in this type of brick, and also, as they were not burnt before, this type of brick does not show much resistance as well.
Engineering brick has hollow in it, making the voids very vulnerable to forming gas, and exploding during a fire incident makes it risky.
Red Clay Bricks:
On the other hand, Red Bricks has endured high flame in its making process, has no flammable object and strong structural capacity, is the most fire-safe brick.
What is the difference between regular bricks and fire bricks?
There are a few things that separate regular bricks and fire bricks. For example:
Fire resistance. Fire bricks are built in a high flame, burnt until they form a strong structural object. They do not catch on fire.
Regular bricks contain flammable ingredients making the structure vulnerable to catching on fire.
Also, their binding agent such as mortar or cement, fall apart once they come across high temperatures. Newly introduced sustainable bricks contain recycled plastics and flammable objects thus very endurable during a fire incident.
Source of pollution:
Fire kilns emit lots of carbon-di-oxide, and particular materials, making them one of the main sources of air pollution in many developing countries.
Regular bricks cannot be used as brick chips in building construction. Although these types of bricks cost higher than fire bricks.
Fire bricks can endure long during a fire incident than most bricks. These bricks can stand strong for near to four hours depending on the situation but are still more resistant than other types of bricks in a similar situation.
But regular bricks aren’t that strong to fight against a tough situation like a fire incident for a long period.
What bricks are fire resistant? What makes them resistant?
Bricks are commonly referred to as the most fire-resistant building material widely used for building construction. Standing up to 4 hours and as much as 1200° C, bricks protect our lives and wealth in our houses from fire and many natural issues.
In clay bricks, the primary ingredient being used is clay and was fired at 2000° F temperature, these bricks are strongest against fire.
Many other bricks such as silica bricks whose primary ingredient is sand and formed by high pressure in hydraulics, show very low character during fire events.
What reduces its resistance:
Fire bricks used in a building are installed together with mortar and cement, due to the low heat resistance of later mentioned materials, overall resistance decreases.
What makes brick most resistant:
Nonetheless, bricks that are made with high-quality clay, and has zero voids in them also burned in a quality kiln where all of the surfaces of the brick was exposed to heat equally forms the strongest heat resistant brick
Identify a fire-resistant brick:
Heat-resistant bricks are dark red in color, heavy in weight, the surface is not dusty, and has a strong structure.
Will bricks blow up in the fire?
Bricks usually do not contain any flammable or blowing-up material as it is burnt at high temperature. As a result, there is little chance that brick will usually burn or catch on fire.
But if the brick is kept in fire, or soaked in flammable liquid and then lit, it will catch on fire. Despite catching on fire, a clay brick will not blow up.
But if the brick has a hidden air pocket and poisonous gas consolidates, a brick can likely blow up during a fire event.
How do brick buildings burn down?
Bricks usually do not burn, but the brick building can burn down. For building construction, elements such as mortar, cement are used with bricks as a binding agent.
Also, in a building, there are other materials that are flammable. Synthetic fabric, wooden furniture, plastic utensils, or electronics, all of them are highly flammable.
Buildings also contain electricity and plumbing; all of them are combined make a building very vulnerable to fire.
As a result, despite being fire resistant, buildings made with bricks can burn down. However, brick buildings are more resistant to fire than other types of buildings such as wood, iron, or bushes.
Bricks are usually made with incombustible ingredients (primarily clay) and fired at very high temperatures (up to 2000° F). As a result, no flammable material remains in a brick. Because no such ignitable ingredients exist in bricks, they cannot burn or catch on fire.