Asbestos can be very dangerous in the event of a fire, causing potentially very serious damage to a person’s lungs and respiratory system as well as affecting the structural integrity of a property. Few people are aware of the risks that occur when asbestos interacts with intense heat, and that’s why we’ve taken a closer look.
The risks of asbestos in a fire
One major issue associated with asbestos and fire is that the material was commonly used in the structural elements of properties. This includes door frames, support beams, pipework insulation, and even roof work. All of these structures can potentially contain asbestos. This was once considered a good thing, particularly as the fibre is strong and resistant to heat, however these benefits are irrelevant when you consider the huge health risks associated with the material.
When a fire combines with asbestos, it can result in toxic fumes, which can be very harmful when inhaled. These fumes settle in the lungs, causing irreparable damage to this vital organ. In addition, if the temperature of the fire climbs too high, structures of the building may collapse, which can result in the complete destruction of a property. This can be dangerous not just for anyone trapped inside, but for firefighters fighting the blaze.
When fire damages the asbestos, it becomes weak and brittle, causing it to release spores into the air, which are then inhaled. It takes more than 15 years for the signs of lung problems caused by asbestos to become apparent, which means that there’s no way for an individual to know for sure if they have inhaled these harmful spores.
Are firemen safe?
Those most at risk of contracting an asbestos-induced lung disease are firemen, who frequently must enter burning buildings to rescue people who are trapped. Whilst it’s true that firemen today are largely protected by specially designed uniforms and breathing apparatus, the risk of inhaling these spores is still present. People who are trapped inside a burning building for a long period of time are even more at risk, as they lack the protective gear and equipment which firemen possess.
Ultimately, the risk posed by asbestos during and after a fire is high. When asbestos interacts with intense heat, the spores are released into the atmosphere, which may then be inhaled by anyone present in the building. There is also a significant risk to the integrity of the property.
If you require asbestos removing from a property, or you have any concerns about asbestos, an asbestos survey is a must. There are a number of asbestos consultancies out there who can provide you with a fully comprehensive survey to assess the risk of asbestos, and we can also remove it for you in a cost effective and efficient manner.
If a fire has occurred in your property and think you have discovered asbestos, it’s important to have it professionally surveyed.