Reaction of fiberglass to fire

Fiberglass is a fiber-reinforced polymer composed of a plastic matrix (resin) reinforced by small glass fibers. It is also known as fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP). Fiberglass composites are lightweight and incredibly robust. Although their strength qualities are slightly inferior to those of carbon fiber and they are less rigid, the material is generally considerably less brittle, and the raw materials are considerably less expensive. Compared to metals, their strength and weight characteristics are also quite advantageous.

Due to their numerous advantages over conventional materials, such as light weight, strength, superior insulating capacity, minimal maintenance requirements, and durability, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials are increasingly used in civil engineering applications. More information about the different applications in which fiberglass panels can be used can be found on the website

Naturally, new problems and design issues arise, the most significant of which are valid concerns about how they would perform when exposed to fire, especially in building applications.

Building construction materials must react appropriately to fire behavior to avoid excessive smoke generation, diffusion, flame spread, and fire initiation. Structural components must also exhibit sufficient fire resistance to avoid structural collapse due to fire.

However, the organic matrix of FRP materials decomposes at high temperatures (300–500 °C), generating heat, smoke, soot, and hazardous volatile chemicals. In addition, FRP materials often creep and flex when heated to moderate temperatures (100–200 °C). This deterioration of mechanical characteristics often results in deformation failure mechanisms in load-bearing composite structures.

Despite these undesirable qualities, FRP materials present several advantages in a fire situation. Composite materials are exceptionally good thermal insulators compared to other conventional materials such as steel, and this property is crucial in limiting the spread of fire from one zone to another. Compared to steel, composite materials have a higher resistance to burning, acting as a strong barrier against flames, heat, smoke, and hazardous fumes.

Few studies have been conducted on the fire resistance properties of FRP materials, especially about the structural behavior of moderately sized elements under load, as opposed to reaction-to-fire behavior, for example, and post-fire behavior, for which numerous investigations have been conducted and a good level of understanding has already been reached.

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