We are all fairly familiar with some of the methods used in modern buildings to help actively control the growth of a fire, such as sprinkler systems, and to detect the start and spread of fire and smoke. However, there is also another element that has a key role to play in successfully preventing the spread of fire: passive fire protection. Passive fire protection can help to slow down the spread of fire, reduce the potential for damage and can also help to save lives.
Approved document J describes compartmentation as “a building or part of a building comprising one or more rooms, spaces or storeys constructed to prevent the spread of fire to or from another part of the same or adjoining building” Criteria such as Stability (R), integrity (E) & fire insulation (I) to maintain compartmentation can be achieve using fire walls, floors & ceilings, services enclosures and fire rated ductwork, and penetration sealing.
One of the big risks during a serious fire is the impact that the flames and heat can have on the structure of the building. Collapse can be as much a danger to human life as smoke and flames and is incredibly destructive. Passive fire protection includes methods that protect essential structural elements from the effects of a fire. This is normally achieved either by constructing the building from fire proof materials or by applying fireproof treatments to essential structural parts.
Melted cables can be dangerous and problematic when a building is on fire. A simple and effective form of passive fire protection is to enclosure the cable within a fire rated services enclosure. In some instances it may be vital to maintain the cable operation and life safety systems which can be achieved by an enhanced construction.
It’s quite common for fire barriers to be affected during a minor building alteration – for example, an electrician or plumber may leave behind holes in a fire barrier. If this isn’t noticed or dealt with then it can present a problem, as it means that the fire barrier is not fully effective. Firestopping materials can be used to deal with any accidental holes or penetrations, to properly seal and protect any damage that has been done so that the effectiveness of the fire barrier remains.
It’s important to note that a fire-rated product – such as a window or a door – isn’t actually fire-rated until it has been properly and professionally installed and tested.
We provide deliver unrivalled service to meet the need for the design, supply and installation of all passive fire protection requirements – contact us to find out more about what we could do for you.