Fire stopping/penetration sealing is an essential component in passive fire protection for every building today. However, despite its importance, this system often doesn’t receive adequate attention when it comes to installation or ongoing testing. This is an issue that recent events, have unfortunately shed a lot of light on. It’s also something that the industry as a whole is aware of and a problem that it is working to change.
What is fire stopping?
Fire stopping – or penetration sealing – measures are passive fire protection methods i.e. they have been integrated into the fabric of a building in order to protect the building against flames, heat and smoke. Passive fire protection measures can achieve this in a number of different ways, including compartmentalisation, preserving escape routes, protecting the structural stability of the building and fire separation. Fire stopping/penetration sealing is an essential part of this, as it acts to maintain compartmentalisation by ensuring that smoke, flames or toxic gases are unable to pass through mechanical, electrical or any other penetrations in the building.
What are the issues?
There are a number of problems that can arise when it comes to fires stopping/ penetration sealing compliance, including:
- As these systems are often not seen they are frequently forgotten about, which can be problematic in terms of regular maintenance to ensure effectiveness.
- Issues during construction – inadequate installation, for example – may also be overlooked because fire stopping measures are hidden.
- Passive fire protection tends to be a specialist area that other trades involved in the construction process may have little or no knowledge of – this, too, can mean that issues arise during the process of installing these measures, or afterwards as a result of construction that follows and causes damage.
- There is frequently little accountability when it comes to identifying who is responsible for the installation of fire stopping to an adequate standard.
- Often, few records are kept of penetration sealing installation, which makes it difficult to trace where this has been done, who was responsible for it, when it may require updating or the standard that was set.
What are the options in terms of solutions?
What’s crucial to note about fire stopping measures is that a lack of proper installation can undermine other passive fire protection systems. Fire walls, for example, are unlikely to be fully effective if there are gaps that have not been stopped that allow smoke, flame or toxic gases to escape compartmentalisation measures. While the industry looks to improve systems for ensuring compliance from a regulatory standpoint, it’s up to each individual building owner to take steps to ensure essential best practice standards are met. This will involve working with specialists to make the process of installing fire stopping a more accountable and transparent one.
If you’re looking to ensure that your passive fire protection systems are properly supported by fire stopping measures than it will be essential to consult the experts. We can provide practical guidance and action when it comes to making this happen.
Get in touch with Hillmoore Fire today on 01628 890122.