Fire safety is naturally at the top of mind in any building project. When sourcing materials like acoustic panels, no one intends to skimp on fire safety measures. You check that the building products comply with standards, confirm all measures are met, and then confidently move forward.

However, in a ceiling area, a lesser-known but significant risk associated with some acoustic panels is the phenomenon of “flaming droplets.” This article delves into this occurrence and the importance of selecting the right acoustic panels to mitigate this risk.

It’s raining flaming droplets

Flaming droplets occur when certain material, upon exposure to high heat or fire, melts and drips while still alight. These molten droplets can then reignite other materials, spread fire more rapidly, and, in the worst cases, block escape paths and cause severe burn injuries or fatalities to people escaping the affected area of the building.

They drastically exacerbate fire hazards.

Fire resistant acoustic panels: a critical safety measure

Fire resistant acoustic panels are specifically designed to mitigate the risk of these flaming droplets. These specialist panels are engineered to withstand high temperatures without melting or dripping.

The design incorporates materials that are not only effective in sound absorption but also resistant to fire so that in the event of a fire, the spread is contained, and the risk of molten droplets is minimised.

International Fire Safety Standards

Fire safety standards worldwide vary, but in general, standards do not permit the occurrence of flaming droplets. European standards are, for instance, the strictest globally, prohibiting any and all building materials that do not eliminate the risk of flaming droplets. Other regions, including parts of Asia and North America, also have stringent regulations in place to mitigate this risk.

In Australia, the standards are robust but currently do not specifically address the issue of flaming droplets to the same extent. Thankfully, that does not mean that fire resistant building materials—to the highest European standard—are unavailable in Australia.

Leading industry players, like us here at Megasorber, adhere not only to the strict Australian standards but also to the strictest European regulations. We monitor the global industry and ensure that our pioneering products are beyond the grade for fire resistant solutions that will outlast safety upgrades in local and global markets.

We are committed to the prevention of flaming droplets and the protection of lives.

How molten droplets occur

Molten droplets are the result of thermoplastic building materials that are vulnerable to fires when exposed to high heat or direct flames. These materials, which may include some types of insulation or acoustic panels, begin to melt under extreme temperatures. As they melt, the liquefied material drips down, forming what the industry calls flaming or molten droplets.

The primary factors contributing to the formation of molten droplets include:

  1. Material composition: Materials with lower melting points are more likely to produce molten droplets when exposed to fire.
  2. Heat exposure: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures increases the likelihood of melting.
  3. Fire intensity: More intense fires generate higher temperatures, accelerating the melting process.

If molten droplets occurred in your office

Imagine you’re at work. Employees are at their desks, meetings are in progress, and work is going on as usual. Suddenly, a fire breaks out in one of the storage rooms due to an electrical fault. The fire quickly spreads, reaching the ceiling where the acoustic panels are installed.

As the fire intensifies, the temperature in the storage room soars. With a relatively low melting point, the materials begin to heat up. Within minutes, the panels start to liquefy and forms the molten droplets. These droplets, still burning, detach from the ceiling and begin to fall.

The outcome is the following sequence of events:

  1. Initial ignition: The flaming droplets land on various surfaces in the storage room, igniting papers, wooden shelves, and carpet flooring and, worse, the human skin. The fire now has multiple new points of ignition.
  2. Fire spreads: The secondary fires quickly spread to adjacent rooms and corridors. As the fire alarm sounds, employees begin to evacuate, but the presence of burning droplets complicates the escape routes.
  3. Hazardous evacuation conditions: Employees rushing to exit the building encounter falling molten droplets in the corridors. These droplets pose a burn hazard to those fleeing and ignite other flammable materials along the way, creating obstacles and spreading further panic.
  4. Firefighter response: When firefighters arrive, they face multiple fires across different floors. The presence of molten droplets complicates their efforts, as they must not only extinguish the main fire but also deal with the scattered points of ignition caused by the droplets.
  5. Increased casualties: The combination of spreading flames, hazardous evacuation conditions, and structural collapse leads to a higher risk of injuries and fatalities. The falling droplets create unpredictable fire paths, making it difficult for occupants to find safe exits and for firefighters to control the blaze.
  6. Structural damage: The continuous dripping of molten material may cause secondary burning that subsequently weakens the structural integrity of the building. Ceilings and floors start to collapse, further endangering both occupants and firefighters.

Prevention through high quality fire resistant acoustic panels

The hypothetical scenario above underscores the impacts of sub-par building materials and the critical importance of selecting those that are fire resistant and specifically designed to combat the phenomenon of flaming molten droplets. Architects and builders can significantly mitigate these risks by choosing fire resistant acoustic panels that adhere to the highest international fire safety standards, like ours at Megasorber.

Our panels are designed to withstand high temperatures without melting or dripping, ensuring that in the event of a fire, there is a safe exit for affected personnel.

Ensuring the use of high-quality, fire resistant materials in construction protects property and, more importantly, saves lives. Investing in superior safety standards and products is crucial in creating safer environments for everyone.

Megasorber’s commitment to safety

Megasorber is a leading manufacturer of soundproofing and sound absorption products and we are committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety in our acoustic panels. Our products, which specifically address the risk of flaming droplets, meet both Australian and international fire safety standards.

Megasorber’s acoustic panels undergo rigorous testing to ensure they provide effective fire resistance. For instance, our panels are tested for their ability to withstand high temperatures without dripping molten material. These tests include Australia’s local standards, such as AS 5637.1, and international standards, such as EN 13501-1, ensuring comprehensive safety measures.

Choosing the right fire resistant acoustic panels for your project

Fire resistant properties should be a crucial consideration when you’re next selecting acoustic panels for a ceiling area insulation. Architects and builders should prioritise panels that have been tested and certified to prevent flaming droplets. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Compliance with international standards: Look for products that meet EN 13501-1, the highest international fire safety standard, to prevent molten droplets.
  • Material composition: Opt for panels made from materials known for their fire resistance capabilities as well as their sound absorption.
  • Manufacturer reputation: Choose products from reputable manufacturers like Megasorber, who are known for their commitment to safety and quality. Check for a long track record.
  • Installation and maintenance: Proper installation and regular maintenance are essential to ensure the panels’ effectiveness over time.

Using Megasorber’s fire resistant acoustic panels for commercial or residential projects provides an added layer of safety—one that should be the standard in fire safety. Acoustic panels can be more than a product to enhance acoustic performance; they can double as a precaution to significantly reduce the risk of fire related incidents.

Future directions and innovations

Building regulations and safety standards are continuously progressing as technology and innovation improve. Fire resistant building materials are continually evolving, and Megasorber stands at the forefront, investing in innovative solutions that further improve the fire resistance of our products.

The Megasorber Soundmesh® G8 is one example of our leading-edge inventions. This patented, non-combustible, sound-absorbing fabric is the facing of all Megasorber fire resistant acoustic panels, making the Megasorber range of products resistant to fire and molten droplets.

Megasorber Soundmesh® G8

Breaking soundwaves into smaller components, the Soundmesh® G8 traps and dissipates the soundwave within the cavity behind it. It is acoustically transparent but tuned to maximise sound absorption.

It can be used for sound absorption as an acoustic banner, acoustic backing or facing fabric for perforated or slotted panels or metal sheets, acoustic fabric for bulk insulation materials, or scratched over a wooden frame. All the while offering its unique acoustic and fire resistant properties.

Soundmesh® G8 meets the following standards:

  • AS1530.1: Not Deemed Combustible classification
  • BS476 Part 4: Non-combustible classification
  • AS5637.1: BCA (Building Code of Australia)
  • ISO 5660 Group 1: Fire Classification
  • A653(16): IMO Resolution requirements.

The Soundmesh® G8 has a temperature resistance of up to 550℃.

Furthermore, the Megasorber FM range of acoustic panels is inherently fire resistant, with no flaming droplets when exposed to fire.

Combining the non-combustible Soundmesh G8 facing with a thermoset acoustic foam, the Megasorber FM acoustic panels do not melt or produce any burning droplets. There is zero afterglow, merely a small amount of smoke and maybe some slight charring.

Make Megasorber your fire resistant acoustic panels partner

Megasorber’s vision for the future includes continuing to lead the industry in safety and innovation. By staying ahead of local guidelines and pushing for higher standards, we aim to continually set a new benchmark for fire resistant building materials in Australia.

Acoustic panels may be positioned most often to contribute to comfort and a more modern, acoustically enhanced building environment, but as with all building materials, they have the power to help or hinder building safety standards.

Fire resistant acoustic panels, like Megasorber’s, are the solution to reducing the risks of molten droplets and other fire-inflaming hazards.

Contact us today to learn more about our fire resistant acoustic panels.

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