There are general industry concerns over existing aged PFP and its ability to protect steel structures in the event of a fire accident and provide the desired protection to people, assets and surrounding environment..
When PFP is newly installed and functional as per manufacturer’s recommendations there are no issues, as this is backed by simulated test data under suggested testing conditions and verified by independent bodies.
Like most materials, over time the PFP applied asset in service comes under varying levels of stress from the operating environment and this could affect its intended performance.
In service defects for PFP could develop in the short term over few a months, or in the long term over years due to various reasons such as mechanical strain from operations, dropped objects, equipment vibrations, burn damages, water or solvent ingress over time, internal stress, wet freeze/thaw cycling and continuous exposure to a hot climate/environment. These issues can result in a defect or combination of defects such as cracking, spalling, loss of topcoat, complete disbonding, corrosion under fire-protection (CUF).
The PFP in question has therefore degraded and loses its integrity, in some cases affecting the integrity of the substrate. This occurs in most cases where moisture/water ingress has initiated corrosion process under the fire protection.
There is no set standard on acceptance criteria of existing/ageing PFP as there is lack of data for the thermal and structural response of structures with damaged PFP. There are number of publications which provide guidance on the assessment of PFP, however these are qualitative in nature and subjectively interpreted by the end user. Therefore, there is a need to regularly survey, inspect and repair the PFP coatings and take a risk-based inspection approach based on quantitative data.
Taking this approach can benefit all involved in the maintenance process & helps to:
- Avoid guesswork/uncertainty on repairs
- Plan and budget repairs
- Extend asset performance
- Minimize downtime
- Allocate appropriate resources & save costs
- Ensure continuous safety of the people, assets & environment