Smoke droplets

Smoke inhalation causes more casualties than the actual fire

Fireman with fire truck

Did you ever think about how smoke from a fire can affect your health or can even cause fatalities? Did you know that in case of fire, a considerably high number of the casualties happen due to smoke inhalation and not because of the actual fire?

A UK fire expert report (2014) stated that in case of fire, 41% of the people who died in a fire died due to gas, smoke and toxic fumes alone, 20% died due to the combination of smoke and burns where most likely for most of them the smoke prohibited them to see well and escape.

But what is smoke

and why is it so dangerous?

Smoke is complex gas phase mixture consisting of solid particles, liquid droplets, gases and vapours. The fine particles can penetrate deep in your longs and as such the fire can even its effect long after the actual fire took place. As smoke contains many unburned particles, it can even burn and explode.   

Next to all this; smoke influences the escape time of people.

Depending on the type of smoke it can:  

  • reduce visibility, making it impossible for people to find the exit or making it difficult for firefighters to enter, to evacuate people and to attack the fire. 
  • Smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, making it very difficult for people to breath. People will be grasping for air, be out of breath quickly and therefor will not be able to reach the exit or reach the exit too late.
  • Smoke can contain toxic substances like asphyxiant gases.  Inhaling toxic gasses will lead to losing consciousness and death can follow quickly by suffocation. 

In our current legislations the production of smoke and toxic fumes in a fire assessment is only taken partially into account for construction materials, only for the part of smoke. Smoke toxicity is not covered.  However, construction materials have a big influence on the fire spread but also have a large contribution to the production of toxic gasses leading to shorter escape times or even more casualties.  It should be without any hesitation when designing, insuring, investing, constructing… a building, not only the fire reaction class or a fire test which will be important in case of fire, but also to consider the possible production of smoke and toxic fumes during a fire.

Knowing all this information, we, at FOAMGLAS®, believe that smoke hazard should be part of the building and product classification and we strive to do better. Therefor we believe that cost, safety and environmental matters must be balanced in these topics and society.

FOAMGLAS® cellular glass insulation is a pure mineral insulation, non-exothermic and as such never will serve as fuel for a fire.  When using FOAMGLAS® you can rest assure, not only is our cellular glass insulation non-combustible it also does not contribute to the fire spread nor does it produce smoke or any toxic gasses.

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