Passive Fire Protection: Slow the Spread of Fire
There are two types of fire protection, active and passive.
Active vs. passive fire protection
Active fire protection refers to something that:
- Is used to detect or fight a fire when it occurs
- Needs to be activated
- May require operation
- Examples include extinguishers, fire blankets and sprinkler systems
Passive fire protection is very different, it:
- Comes from your building’s structure and design
- Aims to slow the spread of fire
- Keep fire contained
- Should give people more time to evacuate
- Normally don’t require any kind of operation or activation
There are some exceptions to the rules, of course. However, fire door closers, for instance, open and close, so require activation.
The key thing is, though, that they don’t need to be activated by you. Passive fire protection is always there, doing its job – it’s easy to forget about it.
However, in the event of a fire, every second counts, so it’s important that you get your passive fire protection right.
Stop it from spreading
Compartmentalisation is where barriers are used to keep fire, smoke, and gases contained in one area of a building.
The idea is to divide a building into fire compartments, which can contain multiple or single rooms. Barriers used for compartmentalisation include fire partitions, smoke barriers and firewalls.
Compartmentalisation is part of an overall fire safety plan, which will help ensure that people have a safe route through which they can escape a building.
Don’t forget your openings (windows and doors)
Doors, windows and anything else than may cause an opening in a fire wall must be considered.
There’s no point in having a fire wall if the fire can spread through its doorway, for instance. It’s important that self-closing fire doors and windows (with fireproof glazing and frames) are used.
Fire dampeners are also an important way of protecting openings. They are normally used with air conditioning and ventilation duct work.
Protect your building’s structure
Passive fire protection is also about maintaining the integrity of your building’s essential structural components. Examples include joints and structural steel.
Constructing buildings out of concrete, a fireproof material, will help to protect your building’s structure. There are various other materials that can also e used.
Use the right materials
Fire-stopping materials should be used on protective walls and barriers. They help to provide a seal that prevent fire, smoke and gases from penetrating barriers.
Examples of fire stopping materials include intumescents, cementitious mortars, silicone, firestop pillows, mineral fibres, and rubber compounds.
photo credit: Chris Devers
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