Fire can be one of the most destructive forces in nature. Unprotected buildings allow fire and smoke to spread at an alarming rate. The damage caused by an unrestricted fire can be costly and devastating, and in extreme cases, can present a very real risk to the lives of occupants. Passive fire protection not only limits the damage caused by fire, it can also save lives.
Passive fire protection (PFP) consists of products installed in a building to improve its fire safety rating. The products may be part of the fabric of the building, or they can be added post construction to enhance the structure’s fire performance. Passive fire protection keeps people safe and limits damage to a building’s structure and its contents. It does this by restricting the spread of fire and smoke, and shielding escape routes long enough for occupants to exit the building calmly and safely.
Passive fire protection methods are defined by The Building Regulations 2010 (Approved Document B) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO). Both these documents serve to ensure that in the event of a fire, buildings can be safely evacuated and that the spread of fire and smoke within that building, and to nearby structures, is restricted. They also aim to lower the risk to first responders such as Fire and Rescue Service personnel.
The RRFSO draws particular attention to the importance of Third Party Certification for companies contracted to carry out the installation and maintenance of PFP products. Third Party Certification ensures that products, contractors, and their employees, are up to standard, appropriately qualified and sufficiently competent. Thereby protecting the people located there, and the property itself.
Compartmentalisation could be called the core principle of PFP. It is the practice of creating layered pockets of fire resistance in order to contain the spread of smoke and fire within small areas, thus securing enough time for occupants to leave a building safely.
Fire barriers for expansion joints in floors and walls are an integral part of preventing the spread of fire and smoke throughout levels and are critically important in all expansion/movement joint openings that interrupt fire rated compartments. Fire barriers are designed to slow the transfer of heat and smoke between compartmentalised rooms, corridors, and floors, preventing the ‘chimney’ effect and thus maintaining integrity of fire rated assemblies.
Typically manufactured from treated fibreglass insulation, often combined with aluminium heat shields, fire barriers for joints come in several types: compression type (for smaller expansion gaps), fire rated foams, and fire blankets (which can respond to high rates of seismic activity or movements).
Fire doors are crucial components for stopping the spread of smoke and fire. As a consequence, fire doors should be subject to maintenance and/or renewal at regular intervals. Construction Specialties provides solutions for all your doors and door frames, from refurbishing existing fire doors to the installation of new fire doors configured to your PFP requirements.
Further components, such as fire stopping systems, fire resisting dampers and ducts, can also play a major role in your building’s fire and smoke protection strategy.
Once the construction is complete, and the building is occupied, responsibility for ensuring adequate fire safety is passed to the building owner or occupier, who should have access to the information about all of the fire protection measures installed. In England and Wales, this is also a building regulations requirement.