Most people are fairly familiar with active fire protection measures. These tend to be visible or audible and something we have all experienced at least once. For example, a fire alarm test in the office is an obvious example of an active fire protection measure in action. Passive fire protection is no less effective but tends to be much less visible. Both passive and active measures are necessary to ensure comprehensive fire protection, no matter what the building. So, how does this symbiotic relationship work?
Active fire protection measures
There is a big difference between the form and function of active and passive fire protection. Those elements that make up active fire protection essentially require an action, motion or response in order to trigger them. Active fire protection can come in a range of different measures, including fire detection, such as smoke or heat sensors, and fire suppression, for example a fire extinguisher.
Other active fire protection measures include a sprinkler system, which tends to be activated by heat, and also smoke alarms which are activated by smoke and will alert the occupants of a building if there is a potentially dangerous level of smoke in the space.
Passive fire protection measures
Passive fire protection is designed into the building itself. It is made up of fire resistant materials that are integrated into the structure of a building and designed either to slow down the spread of fire or to prevent it. Many passive fire protection measures will act to make it more difficult for fire and smoke to spread through a building. The reason for this is to give occupants more time to escape safely and also to preserve as much of the building as possible before firefighters can come and fight the blaze.
Some examples of common passive fire protection measures include fire walls, which are designed to contain a fire in small compartments. This type of compartmentalisation can resist a fire for anywhere from 30 minutes up to four hours. Other passive fire protection measures include fire doors and heat resistant glass that can be used in windows and doors.
The importance of both active and passive fire protection
Passive and active systems work in tandem to provide protection for a building and the people within it. No two structures are the same and so each will require a different combination of active and passive elements to create a comprehensive fire resistance plan. What’s important is ensuring that the measures in place are responsive to the specific needs and design of the building and the steps that would have to be taken to safely evacuate. The balance of these two forms of protection is essential to get right – using passive elements can help to slow down the fire while active fire protection can stop a fire completely.
If you’d like to find out more about the relationship between active and passive fire protection, or to discuss your fire protection and prevention needs, please get in touch with Hillmoore Fire Protection Ltd. today.