Are Vinyl Fences Fire-Resistant?
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What Is Vinyl Fencing Made Of?
Vinyl is short for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), which is a synthetic product made from combining chlorine with ethylene. Chlorine, which makes up over 50% of the material is what gives vinyl its fire resistance.
Chlorine is a naturally occurring chemical that can slow or extinguish a burning fire. What it means is that vinyl will not easily catch fire as you would ordinarily expect for plastic.
Because of the chlorine element, vinyl does not easily ignite. In fact, it can safely be described as self-extinguishing.
That said, vinyl is not fireproof. It can burn if exposed to open flames and extreme heat, as anything that has enough carbon and hydrogen will. But instead of igniting into a flame, vinyl will only melt. How does that happen?
Why Vinyl Is So Fire-Resistant
As vinyl burns, it releases hydrogen chloride, a gas produced from burning plastic. The emitted hydrogen chloride reacts with oxygen to form water vapour.
Besides water being a natural fire retardant, hydrogen chloride effectively removes oxygen from the surface of the vinyl fence. Oxygen is what sustains the combustion process. Hydrogen chloride, thus, effectively slows down the combustion process.
Hydrogen chloride is a toxic gas but it is released in such small quantities when vinyl burns that it does not pose health risks. It is far less dangerous than carbon monoxide, for example.
That said, the gas still gives off such an unmistakably pungent smell you will know immediately that something is burning. That smell is an important fire alert that helps to ensure that the fire is put out before it can do too much damage.
Thanks to vinyl’s fire resistance, if any fire started in the vicinity of your vinyl fence you will not have to worry about the fence adding ‘fuel’ to the fire. If anything, the fence will help to contain the fire ensuring it does not rage out of control.
Just as important, any damage on the fence itself will be minimal and localized. Instead of replacing an entire fence, you will only have to replace a small section of it.