Passive fire protection is a requirement in UK buildings and designed to contain or slow the spread of a fire. It is an integral part of fire safety planning that is activated if a fire occurs. There are various requirements that set out how passive fire protection should be applied to premises.
What is passive fire protection?
Passive fire protection is integrated into a building structure. It will help to stop or slow a fire to create more time for those within the building to leave and to give the fire brigade time to arrive and react. Passive fire protection not only helps to make conditions safer for those trying to get out of the building but also for the firefighters as they do their job – it will ensure the building remains safe for emergency services entry and be instrumental in stopping the spread of flames, smoke and hot gases. Some examples of passive fire protection include penetration sealing, which prevent the spread of hot gases when there is a fire, and fire doors, which will prevent the spread of a fire and contain it.
The legal requirements
Both domestic and non-domestic buildings in the UK are required to have passive fire protection. There are different rules for achieving the necessary level of fire resistance in both existing and new build structures. For example, any new build, modernisation or extension works must comply with The Building Regulations 2010, Fire Safety, Approved Document B. Requirement B3 sets out:
“Where reasonably necessary to inhibit the spread of fire within the building, measures shall be taken, to an extent appropriate to the size and intended use of the building, comprising either or both of the following –
(a) sub-division of the building with fire-resisting construction;
(b) installation of suitable automatic fire suppression systems.
The building shall be designed and constructed so that the unseen spread of fire and smoke within concealed spaces in its structure and fabric is inhibited.”
10.2 of the Regulations sets out the requirements for the protection of openings and fire-stopping so as to inhibit the spread of fire: “If a fire-separating element is to be effective, every joint or imperfection of fit, or opening to allow services to pass through the element, should be adequately protected by sealing or fire-stopping so that the fire resistance of the element is not impaired.”
10.7 also says, “joints between fire-separating elements should be fire-stopped;
all openings for pipes, ducts, conduits or cables to pass through any part of a fire-separating element should be:
a) kept as few in number as possible; and
b) kept as small as practicable; and
c) fire-stopped (which, in the case of a pipe or duct, should allow thermal movement).”
Installing passive fire protection
Every passive fire protection component should be tested to the relevant and current British standard and will be rated in terms of certification to resist fire for a specific length of time (up to four hours). Anything that is installed in a building, from pipes to electrical sockets can reduce the ability of the building to slow or resist fire – passive fire protection measures are there to fill the gaps and ensure a certain level of protection is maintained.
We are specialists in all forms of passive fire protection and can help you to ensure your building is safe and meets the necessary legal requirements. Contact Hillmoore Fire to find out more.