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Burning Questions: Fire Resistance Quiz
by Staff
It's hard not to feel helpless in the face of a major -- or even minor -- fire. Luckily, however, science is on your side. Take our quiz to test your knowledge of fire resistance and the materials that could save your life.

How is fire resistance defined?

  • A fire-resistant material is completely unaffected by flame.
  • A fire-resistant material chars and may ignite, but is not destroyed by flame.
  • A fire-resistant material maintains its structural integrity when flame is applied.

What elements can help make a material fire-resistant?

  • oxygen and neon
  • phosphorus and nitrogen
  • hydrogen and helium

How can fire-resistant material be used to help protect buildings?

  • When heated, the material emits a shell of impermeable gas that envelops the structure.
  • It creates barriers to heat and flame, slowing the destruction of the building and buying time for help to arrive.
  • It makes it almost impossible for a building to catch fire at all.

Before a material can be sold as fire-resistant, it must undergo rigorous testing. What might a fire resistance test entail?

  • subjection to simulations of fire-like heat and smoke in a lab
  • being present in an actual building fire
  • the direct application of flame, pressure and high temperatures to meet predetermined criteria

What three specific qualities of fire-resistant materials are assessed in a fire resistance test?

  • fire penetration, external damage to the material and internal damage to the material
  • temperature, smoke penetration and structural integrity of the material
  • fire penetration, temperature and structural integrity of the material

Which of the following materials would qualify as fire-resistant?

  • silk
  • concrete
  • plywood

What's the different between fire-resistant and fire-retardant material?

  • Fire-retardant materials protect structure completely -- but only up to a certain temperature.
  • Fire-retardant materials slow a fire's progression, but there is no requirement that they maintain any structural integrity when introduced to flame.
  • Fire-retardant materials guarantee that there is no damage to the structure at all.

Concrete is one of the most common fire resistant materials used in the construction industry. However, it's not infallible. How can concrete's fire resistant abilities be compromised?

  • The glazes and sealants often used to coat concrete surfaces can be flammable even though the concrete itself is fire resistant.
  • If the concrete is mixed incorrectly, it loses its fire resistant properties.
  • Cracks in concrete significantly reduce its ability to resist flame, as heat can more easily penetrate the material.

Standing up to fire isn't concrete's only talent. What other type of risk can it protect against?

  • mold and other potential natural toxins
  • environmental degradation such as carbon dioxide emissions
  • hurricanes, tornadoes and floods

Asbestos can be used as a fire resistant material, but it can also be highly dangerous. How can asbestos be harmful?

  • Asbestos fibers can cause buildup of scar tissue in the lungs that, in time, can severely impede breathing ability.
  • When introduced to heat, asbestos gives off toxic fumes that often cause more damage than the fire it protects against.
  • Termites breed in asbestos, which can pose a major risk when used in wood-framed homes.