Home Fire Protection

Straw Bale Performance

Considering straw bale as a building material but have questions about its performance in a fire situation?

For your future home fire protection concerns and the fire resistance of straw bale construction there are several places to source results that give you an idea of how it performs compared to other materials.

The most extensive testing has been undertaken in California where straw bale walls have been tested for both-

  • One hour fire resistance
  • Two hour fire resistance

Each test was with 2 different render types applied to non-loadbearing straw bale walls. The tests showed the render cracking, but the walls did not fail, thus achieving both a one and two hour fire resistance. See the video below..

Straw Bale Tests Australia

Straw bale fire tests were undertaken in Australia at CSIRO testing facilities in South Australia, at the time meeting the Bushfire Code AS 3959, yet no Australian Standard has been created specific to straw bale construction.

The Australian straw bale tests showed that the walls (3 different renders were tested) did not fail, and the renders showed no visible cracks. This exhibits that straw bale walls show high levels of fire resistance, comparable to mudbrick and rammed earth as earth-friendly building materials that also show good levels fire resistance.

The above-mentioned Australian Standard (AS 3959) has since been updated with a heat intensity (due to the Victorian bushfires of Feb 2009) of 40kw/m2 for BAL 40 or BAL FZ zones, rather than the 29kw/m2 of heat intensity used in the original tests. It is unclear whether new sets of tests are required to meet these more stringent building standards.

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