Residents of the world’s most fire-prone country have access to a new tool to protect against flames, with fire-retardant paint FSA FIRECOAT now commercially available across Australia.

The first of its kind, FSA FIRECOAT was created by Professor Guan Yeoh and his team of engineers at UNSW, as part of a five-year collaboration with industry partner Flame Security International (FSI). The fire protective paint is a simple, accessible and affordable option to help Australians protect their homes and other assets during exposure to flames, and has passed stringent testing both locally and abroad. Following certification, FSI engaged Bunnings Warehouse, as a country-wide distributor of the paint. 

Using specialised polymer technology, FSA FIRECOAT can be applied as an undercoat to both internal and external structures, and works on a range of materials including brick, timber, aluminium, steel, concrete and plasterboard. Once flames hit these structures, the paint forms a dense char layer, which sticks to the wall and ensures flames go no further. 

“It’s a carbon layer that acts as a fire barrier and gives you additional protection,” explains Prof. Yeoh. Following a fire event, homeowners can then scrape off the carbon layer, clean and prep the affected surface and simply re-apply the paint. 

FSA FIRECOAT is particularly helpful in the event of a bushfire, as it has the second highest bushfire rating: BAL-40.

“Imagine you have a bushfire coming over the house and it’s migrating from one end to the other,” Prof. Yeoh explains. “Even with direct exposure and impact of flames for up to half an hour, we’re confident that house will still be standing once the fire has moved on.”

While the paint is only available in grey or white, users can apply a topcoat to achieve any look they want. “You can have a pink house – it doesn’t affect the performance.”

The Centre Director, Prof. Guan Heng Yeoh speaking at the official opening of the ARC Training Centre at UNSW.

For Prof. Yeoh, it is important to continue to develop this paint technology to ensure it can be applied across all parts of a home or business. “The walls are one thing, but we’re still very mindful about windows and property features that need to maintain a natural timber finish... they need to be protected too.” The research team are now exploring other possible options including a transparent coating to better protect timber structures and that could also be applied on windows. 

With the climate crisis making bushfires more unpredictable and extreme, Australia’s need to effective bushfire solutions has never been more necessary. This has been a key driver for Prof. Yeoh and the work he does.

“My end goal has always been to have a product for the community to use that helps them stay protected. We want them to be able to return to their homes and see them still standing. If we can do that, then I think we’ve done our job well.”

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