Fireproofing your home is a smart way to help protect your residence, potentially giving you extra time to escape the property. It’s likely that your home was already built with fireproofing materials. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more ways you can use fireproofing materials.

This article will help you figure out what makes something fireproof, and what the difference is between fireproofing, fire-resistance and fire-retardant materials.


What is the difference between active and passive fire protection?

You can fireproof your home in two ways: passive fire protection or active fire protection.

Both ‌methods can effectively contain or fight a fire when used alone. But combining them will give you even more protection against fire.

Smoke alarms save lives. In fact, if you live in a home with a smoke detector, you have 55% less risk of dying in a fire than in residences without alarms.


What is passive fire protection?

Passive fire measures refer to structural or building materials that can help prevent fire or smoke from spreading. Passive protection is typically built into homes or structures and includes the use of materials to make floors fireproof.

Some passive protection methods can even use active components, such as fire dampers or fire door closures.

You can go further into passive protection with

  • Cementitious fireproofing
  • Intumescent fireproofing
  • And firestop fireproofing


Cementitious products are sprayed onto the surface of what you want to fireproof, including structural foundations like steel beams and girders. Cementitious coatings work by forming a thick, plaster-like barrier between the fire and the steel that helps protect your foundation from falling or bending under high heat.

Intumescent paints or coatings expand and thicken when heated to create increased insulation that forms a barrier between the fire. You can apply an intumescent coating to metal pipes, valves or tanks, as well as load-bearing columns, beams, floors or roofs.

Firestop fireproofing closes up any joints or gaps with fire-resistant sealant, including gaps between wall-to-wall connections or areas where the wall and ceiling join. Workers usually add this sealant during construction, but you can also add it to fire barriers or electrical circuits.

Some examples of passive fire protection include:

  • Fire doors
  • Fire-resistant glass partitions
  • Fire-retardant wall coatings
  • Fire dampers
  • Smoke baffles
  • Concrete or cinder block masonry
  • Fire door closures
  • Smoke or fire curtains

A passive system’s ‌goal is to keep the smoke or fire ‌in a specific area until the system can eliminate it or channel the fire from your property. A contained fire is less likely to injure someone or spread to another building.


What is active fire protection?

Active fire protection typically refers to things that can help you fight a fire. Usually, an action will take place with this method. Active fire protection includes manual operations or programming automatic responses to happen if fire or smoke is detected.

Some examples of active fire protection include:

  • Fire alarms or smoke detectors
  • Sprinklers
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Water hoses
  • A smart HVAC system that can help direct smoke outside your home or stop it from circling by automatically shutting off.

An active system directly fights a fire, keeping it from starting in the first place or preventing it from spreading.

What is the purpose of fireproofing your home?

Using both passive and active fireproofing will help protect you and your home from fire damage, injuries or even death.

While it’s true that many new homes may already come with fireproof building materials, there are still ways you can help make your home less resistant to fire by adding spray foam insulation or fireproofing other materials. 

You should also get familiar with a Fire Evacuation Plan and know where to go if a fire breaks out in your home or apartment.

What is the difference between fireproofing and fire protection?

If you’re fireproofing something, you’re making it less resistant to fire. You can fireproof a home structure or building materials, including wallpaper or tiles. Fireproofing something helps protect the integrity of its structure and prevents excessive damage if a fire happens. 

Fire protection means installing something to help slow the fire down or keep it from spreading. This can be equipment you install, like a fire detector, smoke alarm or sprinkler system. 

Both fireproofing and fire protection slow down a fire or prevent it from happening. A significant difference is that fireproofing is more of a passive protection strategy, while fire protection is more of an active measure you undertake. 

If you’re trying to protect your home against fire, you should include a mix of fire safety measures for both fire protection and fireproofing. While fire prevention is key to fire safety, it’s only one element of fire preparedness.


What materials can you use that are fireproof?

Ultimately, nothing is 100% fireproof. But there are building materials you can use that are fire-resistant or fire-retardant.

The building materials will vary depending on where you’re building a residential home or a commercial property. You may also want to use other specific materials if you live in an area prone to wildfires, like a wildland-urban interface (WUI).

A few fire-resistant building materials include:

  • Cement
  • Plaster
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Fire doors
  • Gympum board

There are a lot of words you may hear when it comes to fireproof materials: noncombustible, fire-resistant, fire-retardant or Class A.


Here’s a quick breakdown of what each of them means:

If something is noncombustible, or non-combustible, it won’t ignite, catch on fire or release toxic vapors. Examples of noncombustible materials include ceramics, steel and fiberglass. Many of these are Class A materials.

Fire resistance refers to something resistant to fire for a specified time and condition. A building’s ceilings, walls or floors can have fire resistance.

A fire-resistant rating is determined when something is tested in a controlled environment. Usually, the material is tested from 20 minutes to several hours.

If a wall has a 1-hour fire-resistance rating, that means it should hold up against fire and contain it to that room for an hour, giving people inside a building the chance to evacuate.

Fire-retardant or fire-retardant treatment means using a chemical or coating to make something that is typically combustible more resistant to fire, so flames are less likely to spread. This can include fire-retardant plywood or treated lumber. These items aren’t strictly fireproof, but they are less prone to being consumed by fire.


Whether a material is Class A, Class B or Class C depends on its flame spread index (FSI). The FSI considers how rapidly fire spreads and how far it travels in a specific time period.

A Class A score is the best ranking for a fire-resistant material. This means that fire takes the longest time to reach the end of this material.


    Different Flame Spread Index Ratings


    Class Type

     FSI Rating

     Material Examples

     Class A

     0 to 25

     Brick, gypsum wallboard, cement

     Class B

     26 to 75

     Cedarwood, spruce wood

     Class C

     76 to 200

     Hardwood siding, particleboard

Source:, Information on Construction Requirements, 1993–2010.



5 areas to fireproof in and around your home

One of the most common ways to make your home fire-resistant is probably already integrated into your home right now: drywall or gypsum board.

There are other upgrades you can make throughout your residence, like fire-rated glass, fire retardant wood, concrete, fire bricks or even fire-rated doors.


1. Outside the home

It’s important to clear your property of debris, dry vegetation, and other flammable materials. This simple step can go a long way to help prevent fire from spreading outside your residence.

  • Consider using concrete, stone, brick or fireproof tiling for your outside deck rather than wood.
  • Instead of wood chips or straw, add stone or gravel around your garden or landscaping.
  • Maintain your lawn, keeping bushes and trees trimmed to discourage dry brush fires.
  • Keep your plants watered to help prevent summer wildfires from spreading rapidly.
  • Plant fire-resistant plants and shrubs to help slow wildfire spread.
  • Store grills and other combustible materials away from your home.

House fires may occur from blowing embers or wildfire sparks, so you should maintain your roof and gutters. There are ways you can safeguard your roof with fire-resistant and fireproof materials.

  • Install fire-resistant roofing materials that are labeled Class A.
  • Don’t use wooden roofing materials or shingles.
  • Avoid chemically treated roofing or coatings, which could lead to roof vulnerabilities as the treatment loses its efficiency.
  • Use wire mesh to cover openings to help prevent blowing embers from entering your home.
  • If your home has a chimney, keep the flue closed when you’re not using the fireplace.
  • Install a spark arrestor in your chimney.


2. Exterior walls

Walls without fireproofing materials are more likely to transfer fire from the ground to your roof or attic.

You can upgrade wooden fences, vinyl, or wood siding and even garden fences to more fire-resistant materials like brick, concrete, slate or stucco. If this isn’t possible, you can also add fire-resistant wallboard to help slow the spread of fire.

Even though PVC and vinyl are fireproof, they may melt and cause damage to your property during a fire, so you should avoid installing them in and around your home.


3. Inside the home

When adding new furniture and upholstery, choose fire-resistant curtains and other fabrics.

  • Use fire-retardant paint or fire-retardant sprays on wallpaper.
  • Install fire alarms in your home
  • Add a fire extinguisher to your kitchen.
  • You can incorporate fire-resistant building materials like fire doors and sprinkler systems into your basement.
  • Install dual-pane windows throughout your home.


4. Basements and crawl spaces

Fireproofing your basement or crawl space can go a long way in helping protect your home from sparks.

  • Use fire-resistant insulation like mineral wood, plywood or gypsum.
  • Seal off any extra vents, cracks or other openings with fireproof caulk.
  • Don’t forget to install a fire alarm in your basement!
  • Make sure you can fit through any basement windows ‌you install in case you need to evacuate through the basement.


5. Glass

One of the easiest things you can do is purchase or install fire-rated glass for your windows, skylights and patio doors. Fire-safe glass is less like to shatter due to high heat. This type of glass protects from both indoor and outdoor fire.

  • Re-enforce windows with steel framing.
  • If you have burglar bars installed, make sure that they feature easy opening mechanisms from inside if you need to evacuate.
  • Install metal window screens that can help divert embers away but may not provide as much protection from heat or flames as installing fireproof glass.
  • Double-paned glass offers additional defense against the heat.
  • Tempered glass is less prone to cracking, even at high heat.


A fire alarm can help save lives.

According to FEMA, homes with a smoke detector reported 55% fewer deaths than homes without alarms, which is why having a fire alarm in your residence is so important.

ADT’s fire alarms feature enhanced sensors and rapidly rising temperature detection that alerts you immediately when heat and fire are sensed. 

Protect your home with a fire detection system today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Proofing

Can you spray fabric to make it fire retardant?

Yes, there are many spray fire retardants you can spray on fabric to make it more resistant to fire.

Is there a way to make wood fireproof?

You can make wood less flammable by using a fire-retardant spray or coating.

What kind of insulation is fireproof?

Insulating your home helps reduce heat transfer and save you money. Fireproofing that insulation can help prevent or hinder fires caused by electrical wiring or sparks. You can find fireproof insulation in fiberglass, foam, reflective insulation, fibrous mats and mineral wood.

What does it mean if something is fire-resistant?

When something is fire resistant, that means the structure (like a wall or roof) should contain the fire within that area for a certain period, allowing anyone in the building to escape. For example, a 20-minute fire-rated door should hold up for about 20 minutes before the fire overtakes it.

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