Don't Get Burned; Fire Performance With SIPs

Posted by Roberta Bartel on March 27, 2019

We often talk about how warm and cozy SIPs structures are, but what about when things really heat up?  Fire safety is an important — and perhaps life-saving — consideration when building any structure.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were more than 1.3 million fires in 2017, resulting in 3,400 deaths, over 14,000 injuries and $23 billion in property loss — quite significant (and frightening!) numbers.

So, how do SIPs buildings fare with fire? Homes built with structural insulated panels (SIPs) provide occupants with protection similar to that of a conventional wood frame construction.

Fire precautions for SIP homes include:

  • Application of a 15-minute fire-resistant thermal barrier on the interior (like 1/2-inch gypsum board)
  • Properly installed electrical systems and appliances
  • Properly installed natural gas appliances
  • Smoke alarms


The house fire pictured above shows a home which was built with SIPs walls and a conventionally stick-framed roof. Note, the walls remained standing while the roof ignited, burned and collapsed. (Fortunately, nobody was injured in the blaze.)

Stopping the spread of a fire is key in fighting it. Because SIPs are made with a solid core of expanded polystyrene (EPS), there is no chimney effect in the walls as found in a stick-built structure. Further, EPS will not maintain a flame on its own.

For more information, check out our SIPA Listing Report for full details.

Meanwhile, please stay safe with these tips:

  • Be sure you have a smoke alarm on every story of your home (replace them every 10 years)smoke-315874_960_720-150x150 
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it
  • Purchase a multi-use fire ladder for each upper level bedroom in your home and practice using them
  • Place fire extinguishers within reach throughout your home
  • In the event of a fire, leave through the closest exit. Do not stop to collect belongings and never re-enter a home once safely outside.

Additional fire safety tips are available at

Topics: EPS, building systems, Structural Insulated Panels