Minimising Bushfire Impact On Public Access Structures
As bushfire season becomes longer and more extreme, it is important to create public infrastructure that is as resilient to fire damage as possible. Find out why Fibreglass Reinforced Polymer (FRP) structures from Terra Firma Industries are the ideal solution.
Although the recent bushfire crisis seems to be easing, it is apparent that Australia will be facing a pattern of extended and severe bushfire seasons in the future. Fire not only devastates communities, flora and fauna, but it can also quickly destroy public access infrastructures.
Boardwalks, ramps, viewing platforms and stairs, designed to help the public enjoy our beautiful wild spaces, are all very vulnerable to bushfires. Often made of wood, recycled plastics or metal, each of these materials have advantages and disadvantages but there are a few choice things to consider when facing the potential for bushfires.
Wooden walkways blend into natural surroundings but they also, quite literally, add fuel to fires, and burnt wooden walkways should never be used for access. Ongoing maintenance is an issue and wet wood is slippery, posing a public safety risk.
Recycled plastics are eco-friendly but are highly volatile in fires. In the devastating 2018 fire at Baloon Cave in Carnarvan Gorge, the recycled plastic walkway exploded into a ball of flame. The fireball destroyed the ancient rock art that the walkway was designed to protect. Several regions have completely banned recycled plastic structures and are removing existing ones as a result.
Metal is durable but expensive, heavy to handle and difficult to modify onsite. Some fires have been caused by ‘hot works’, like welding, cutting and grinding metal outdoors. Maintenance ‘hot works’ must be limited to outside the fire season – which is becoming increasingly difficult as the season extends every year.
Access infrastructure is integral to our natural spaces but as fires affect Australia year after year, implementing a safer, stronger solution can go a long way to reducing the devastation caused by bushfire.
The ideal material for public infrastructures in one that won’t melt, won’t burn and is light, non-slip, affordable and safe to work with onsite. The ultimate alternative, therefore, is Fibreglass Reinforced Polymer (FRP) from Terra Firma Industries.
Although sometimes referred to as a plastic, FRP is a mixture of resins and glass fibre that includes strengtheners, UV stabilisers, chemical resistance and fire protection.
FRP is a structural material that holds significant weight across wide spans. It is easily prefabricated or cut to size onsite, doesn’t rot or corrode and can come with the highest P5 non-slip rating.
Terra Firma Industries is a composite specialist. It supplies Terra Firma TerraGrate FRP in a range of products and standards for use in public access infrastructure and other critical environments.
Terra Firma’s Standard Resin System meets the highest ASTM E84 rating for surface burn and smoke characteristics, with a fire rating under AS/ISO 9239.1. It meets the Australian National Construction Code for use in emergency public accessway for major public buildings, hospitals and other critical infrastructure. The Phenolic Resin System offers even higher performance.
In a time of increasing bushfire awareness, it’s important that our public infrastructure is as resilient as possible. This means structures that exceed fire safety standards from planning right through to material choice, construction and maintenance.