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Can paint help protect your home from fire?


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Posted on November 9, 2009 at 9:50 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 9 at 10:39 PM

When you build a home, you expect it to be safe and sound, but fireproof?

A new paint called Firefree 88 promises to offer an extra layer of protection. What better place to try it out than in the new training facility being built by the Pflugerville Fire Department?

“The smoke is what kills most people that die in fires,” said Tim Wallace, a Pflugerville Fire Department investigator.

Wallace knows. He’s been a firefighter for 11 years.

He put the finishing touches on the new fire training center. It has two rooms, both 8' x 8'.

“We built it to the standard of a typical home,” said Assistant Fire Chief Tom Crane.

The rooms are identical in every way, except one. On the right side, firefighters put two coats of Firefree 88 paint and fire retardant on the chair and curtains.

“This stuff covers pretty well,” said Wallace.

But can two coats of paint keep a room from burning?

Using a trash can filled with paper, firefighters set fire to both rooms.

It takes about 30 extra seconds to light the room on the left, but no time at all for the flames to take off. In fact a minute and a half in, flames shoot through the door of the room to the left.

“This room on the left, the fire is spreading faster and a lot more smoke is starting to go to the top,” said Assistant Chief Crane.

On the right side, the Firefree 88 side, you still see very little fire, very little smoke.

“You’d have a lot more chance of surviving in the side that’s treated,” said Crane.

Studies show most people have about 6 minutes from the time a fire starts to the time the smoke overcomes them. Watching the fire on the left, you realize how quickly time flies.

Within three minutes the room on the left is completely involved. Flames and thick black smoke roll out the door.

The chief calls for water, worried the fire will overtake the entire building. Then he decides to let the Firefree 88 room continue to burn.

At eight minutes the fire still burns, but not nearly as hot as the left side. The firefighters put out the fire to gage the results.

“That was an amazing difference,” said David Rodriguez, firefighter.

It’s even more amazing when you see the damage up close. The room on the left is completely charred, the chair is still smoking.

The Firefree 88 room barely burned.

“The paint really did what it was supposed to do,” said Wallace. “Most people’s residential homes aren’t protected with anything like we’ve used today.”

The paint didn’t stop the fire but it would easily give you more time to escape a house fire.

“You’d have a lot more chance of surviving in the side that’s treated,” said Wallace.

Firefree 88 is made by a California company and you can buy it by calling 888-990-3388.  It costs $65 for a gallon. You can get a 5 gallon bucket for $325.