CONSTRUCTION WEEK – MIDDLE EAST
Gone are the days of profits over people. Brands and manufacturers across all industries now operate with a heightened sense of responsibility, and building design is no exception.
A shift towards sustainability and human-centric design has prompted architects and designers to prioritise the safety and longevity of the spaces they create. This shift encourages the selection of materials and methods that protect occupant well-being and minimise environmental impact.
Interestingly, these changing attitudes have also sparked demand in another industry – artificial trees, plants, and flowers. How, you may ask? The low maintenance requirements of artificial plants make them a more environmentally sustainable choice than their natural counterparts.
Firstly, they help to curb the over-extraction of groundwater reserves by eliminating the need for irrigation. Secondly, unlike artificial plants which can be manufactured locally, natural plants tend to be imported from around the world. Most exotic plants do not grow naturally in the arid Middle East, leading to a much higher carbon footprint as a result of transportation by air freight and refrigerated trucks.
These points aside, one of the most notable advantages of artificial plants is their contribution to fire safety. After all, what good is a sustainable and well-designed space if its lifespan is abruptly cut short by a catastrophic fire?
Before delving deeper, it must be clarified that artificial plants, in general, do not contribute to fire safety, however, there are specially-designed fire retardant (FR) variations available that not only resist ignition but also self-extinguish. These FR artificial plants can play a significant role in preventing the spread of fire, thereby facilitating evacuation and minimising property damage.
To guarantee their effectiveness, these plants undergo rigorous tests, such as the NFPA 701 flame test, to verify that they will stop burning within two seconds after being exposed to a flame.
But even when it comes to sourcing FR artificial plants, not all are created equally. There are two distinct methods used for treating plants. The first method involves dissolving FR chemicals in the water to create a solution which is then applied topically to the plant through post-spraying or dipping. However, this method presents several concerns.
One issue is the formation of a greasy and inconsistent film on the plant’s surface, which attracts dust and compromises the realistic appearance of the product. Additionally, the surface-level coating is susceptible to wearing away over time, especially when exposed to moisture, making them particularly vulnerable in the humid climate of the Middle East. Consequently, even if the product initially passes fire retardancy tests, its long-term safety may be compromised.
The second method produces what is known as inherently fire retardant (IFR) artificial plants, which provide protection for the entire life of the product, without compromising on aesthetics. In the manufacturing process of IFR plants, flame-resistant materials and chemicals are mixed with the raw materials, ensuring the plant is protected through and through.
At TreeLocate Foliages, we have developed our own line of commercial-grade IFR trees, plants, and flowers, known as FireSilx. FireSilx products are backed by a lifetime guarantee, as their FR properties will never diminish or wash off over time. Having undergone rigorous testing both in-house and at internationally accredited laboratories, we have passed more safety tests worldwide than any other supplier. Each FireSilx order is accompanied by relevant certifications, including British, French, German, US, and European standards to ensure ongoing regional compliance for years to come.
Ensuring compliance is especially important when it comes to high-risk buildings such as high rises, hospitals, care homes, and childcare facilities, where occupants cannot self-evacuate in the event of a fire. To ensure optimal safety in these buildings, it’s even more imperative to proactively minimise the risk of fire and smoke propagation. Sourcing materials exclusively from reputable manufacturers such as TreeLocate Foliages who utilise premium-grade, non-combustible materials, will guarantee maximum fire safety within your building.
In April, the importance of these regulations was unfortunately demonstrated when a devastating restaurant fire unfolded in Madrid, leading to the tragic loss of two lives and injuries to 10 individuals. The fire began as a waiter flambéed a dish in front of guests, causing a nearby artificial plant to ignite.
Despite immediate efforts to extinguish the flames, the blaze was described as “extremely intense” and produced a substantial amount of smoke. This incident serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of adhering to fire safety regulations, showcasing the dire consequences that can arise from neglecting to do so.
When selecting artificial plants for your space, aesthetics and price are typically the primary considerations. However, it’s essential to recognise that these factors need not come at the expense of occupant wellbeing. By opting for FireSilx IFR artificial plants, you can fulfil all three requirements simultaneously, achieving the desired visual appeal, cost-effectiveness, and, most importantly, the peace of mind that comes with the highest level of safety.
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