First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - Few things are more heartbreaking then the sight of a family huddled in the street as firefighters battle to save their fully-engulfed home.
Now, imagine a substance that could have prevented that home from becoming another statistic - a substance so effective that it could someday make a firefighter's job about as exciting as the Maytag repairman's.
No-Burn is a fire-retarding substance manufactured by No-Burn Inc. of Wadsworth, Ohio, and now is available to home and business owners in Robeson County. It is a clear, odorless, non-toxic substance that is practically impervious to fire and can be applied to the wood of homes under construction, painted onto existing homes or even applied to furniture.
It is being marketed by Carolina Flame Fighters of Lumberton, which is owned by Dwight Chavis and Dean Britt.
“I was a firefighter for 13 years and I got into this business because I was looking for something that could save lives,” Britt said. “This is that product.”
Britt and Chavis demonstrated their product Wednesday at the Raft Swamp Volunteer Fire Department, where Britt is a member.
Under the direction of Jason Spelling, director of business development for No-Burn Inc., three doghouses built from two-by-fours and plywood - the same timber that goes into most housing frames - were set on fire to demonstrate the effectiveness of No-Burn.
Money and lifesaver
Spelling stuffed all three of the structures with newspapers and lit them with a blowtorch. One house was treated with No-Burn Woodguard - a liquid protectant that is sprayed onto a home's wood frame during construction. A second home was painted with No-Burn Plus - a latex paint that is impossible to combust. These two homes smoked and smoldered for a few minutes because of the newspaper, but refused to catch and burst into flames.
The third, untreated house was fully engulfed in about eight minutes.
Afterward, Spelling took the tops off the two homes that were “spared” and scraped away black soot, revealing structurally undamaged wood.
“No-Burn works on a couple of different levels,” Spelling said. “First off, it gives a family plenty of time to get out of a home if there is a fire and plenty of time for the fire department to get to the fire, because the wood treated with No-Burn will not combust.
“This saves the homeowner money because the insurance company doesn't have to replace the frame or stud. No-Burn forms a protective black shield on wood when it encounters flame and the insurance companies have high pressure washers that will simply wash the ash away and leave behind undamaged wood. They don't have to rebuild your house anymore because of fire damage.”
Britt pointed out that No-Burn can also make a fireman's job safer, as wood that has been weakened by fire often become traps for firemen who fall through roofs or floors.
Spelling added that, as a bonus, No-Burn makes products that are not only fire-resistant, but mold-resistant.
“Fire causes more than $5 billion in damage a year in the United States,” Spelling said. “Mold causes about $1 billion in damages, not to mention all the sickness it causes. So this works on two levels of protection.”
To further prove the effectiveness of the product, Spelling tried to set fire to cardboard and a bogus $1 million bill that had been treated with No-Burn. Both the cardboard and money refused to burn, even after long minutes of being subjected to the white-hot flame.
Spelling said it takes about a day to treat a home's wooden frame with No-Burn. And an entire houseful of furniture can be treated in a few hours, according to Spelling.
“And it's completely safe,” Spelling said. “We can spray this on your furniture and your 2-year-old daughter can chew on the treated seat cushion and not suffer any ill effects.”
Chavis said the cost to spray or paint a home is about $1 per foot. Furniture costs vary, but average about $50 for a couch and $25 for a chair.
He said that, despite being a brand-new business, Carolina Flame Fighters has already treated one Robeson County home and a Columbus County peanut factory.
“The peanut factory had an old wood frame and they were concerned because they cook a lot of peanuts at high temperatures, so they really needed this treatment,” Chavis said. “We hope that the word gets out about this product, because it can definitely save a lot of lives.”
No-Burn has been endorsed by a number of fire departments, insurance organizations and city municipalities, including the City of Anchorage Alaska, Insurance Losses Control Consultants and Grayson County Fire Prevention in Grayson County, Texas.