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What about fire?

Strawbales suitable for building are dense and difficult to burn.
They contain only very little oxygen to feed a fire.

American test results show strawbale construction to be exceptionally resistant to fire.

A test of a rendered strawbale showed the following:

Material Fire Resistance
Un-rendered strawbale 30 minutes
Rendered strawbale 2 hours
Timber framed and cladded building 8 minutes

Also, the irregularities of a bale wall require a fairly thick coat of render, providing an extra layer of protection to the bales.

Remember: Care needs to be taken with loose straw around the building site, as it is much more vulnerable to fire.

The first official Australian tests assessing the performance of rendered strawbales for their use as wall systems in high-category bushfire prone areas were conducted by the CSIRO in July 2002.

The preparation of the bales to be tested was planned, sponsored and completed by our construction company.

Bales tested Quantity Comments
Clay rendered 3 Complied with current performance criteria
Lime rendered 3 Complied with current performance criteria
Cement rendered 3 Complied with current performance criteria
Un-rendered bales 3 Did not comply with current performance criteria

Everyone present, CSIRO staff, Bush Fire officials, architects, engineers and builders were surprised and impressed by the excellent performance the strawbales displayed during the fire tests.

To help the approval of your project you may provide your local council with a copy of the test report, especially if you build in a Bushfire endangered area. The CSIRO test report can be purchased from Bohdan Dorniak, please contact him at bdco@merlin.net.au.Whilst we are on the subject of bushfire tests, a new window glass has been developed by Pilkington Australia in conjunction with DuPont for use in Australia’s bushfire prone areas.