Asbestos fire damage can be caused by exposure to extremely high temperatures.

When exposed to temperatures of about 1000°C, asbestos materials can display the effects of charring, spalling and loss of structural strength. Asbestos fire damage can also be seen in asbestos containing materials where thermal expansion has occurred even though no direct exposure to fire has taken place.

Which buildings can have asbestos fire issues?

Properties constructed prior to 1990 in Sydney and Melbourne are likely to contain asbestos within their fabric. In residential buildings, the majority of asbestos is found within wet areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and external eaves. Asbestos fire damage in such properties can spread to neighbouring properties and cause asbestos fire contamination in a much greater area beyond the building's own footprint.

Would asbestos fire damage release breathable airborne asbestos fibres?

Airborne asbestos particles are released following an asbestos fire due to spalling of materials such as asbestos cement sheeting. Asbestos fires do not completely destroy asbestos containing materials, but can cause significant damage to the structural integrity of asbestos containing building materials, which would in turn lead to the release of airborne asbestos.

Additionally, the collapse of structures such as roofing girders and rafters during or after an asbestos fire could result in asbestos roofing breakage and asbestos debris production, which in turn release airborne asbestos fibres. The level of airborne asbestos may depend on the friability of asbestos fire damaged materials.

What to do in the aftermath of an asbestos fire?

The major issue with asbestos fires is the debris left behind, which can spread to a large area as a result of spalling. Asbestos contamination can be found within ash and dust during and after an asbestos fire.

In the event of asbestos fire damage, the following steps should be taken:

  • Avoid entering the asbestos fire contaminated area to reduce chances of disruption, exposure or cross contamination
  • Seek professional opinion from an asbestos fire consultant and request a risk assessment and/or pre-demolition type 3 asbestos survey
  • Engage appropriately licensed asbestos removal contractors to remove asbestos fire debris and dispose of in a safe and controlled manner
  • Engage independent asbestos analysts to conduct asbestos atmospheric testing before/ during/ after the removal of asbestos fire debris and provide an Asbestos Clearance Report

Asbestos Check provides commercial and domestic clients with extensive asbestos inspection services including asbestos identification, testing, inspection and management.