Oct 26th, 2021
6 mins

Over recent publications I have attempted to address items of active fire safety that can be easily identified such as alarm systems and sprinklers, the type of equipment that can be seen and gives confidence that your building is protected. This time around I am going to look at hidden aspects of fire safety, items that may be concealed within voids or hidden behind cupboard doors or just sitting in plain sight.

So, what is Passive Fire Protection (PFP), in simple terms it is the materials that construct the building you sit/work in or the products that are employed to enhance fire resistance which are intended to slow or prevent the spread of smoke and fire.

As opposed to Active Fire Protection that need a trigger to operate such as heat for sprinklers, (PFP) materials usually need no outside element to remain an effective barrier. For example, a well-fitting fire door is an effective fire-resistant barrier without any need for external pressures. The same can be said for fire rated glass and plasterboard. Both of these materials are designed to be inherently fire resistant until the point when they eventually give way to the fire, or the fire is extinguished.

British Frozen Food Federation - Health and Safety Keep It Safe OctoberThe exception to this statement is of course any product that utilises an intumescent material, as this product reacts by expanding when exposed to heat to seal gaps and penetrations therefore re-instating the fire barrier and stopping smoke and flames from passing through.

A well fitted and maintained fire door can stay in situ for many years creating an effective barrier although it should be remembered that doors are not designed to create air locks and therefore will allow a small amount of smoke to pass through until intumescent seals activate.

Depending on its location, it is very easy for a door to become defective and drastically compromise the fire safety of the building.

BFFF Health and Safety - Keep It Safe OctoberWhenever a pipe or a cable passes through a compartment wall or the wall is damaged in any way, it will cause disruption to the ability of that wall to maintain its intended fire resistance, therefore differing product are available to ensure the safety of the building can be maintained. The images on the left clearly show where no thought has been given to the fire integrity of the walls and a fire in any of the rooms on show would firstly allow toxic smoke to permeate though out to other parts of the building, but also as the fire grows, gives this an outlet to spread.

BFFF Health and Safety - Keep It Safe OctoberThe number of products available on the market to reinstate the fire integrity is immense and wide ranging and a service engineer should be employed to ensure you have the correct effective product.

In the smallest of cases, repairs could be made utilising intumescent mastic products, up to fireboard repairs for larger deficiencies and spray systems to cover and protect much larger areas.

Collar and sleeve systems are effective for pipework and cable trays for large amounts of cables.

BFFF Health and Safety - Keep It Safe OctoberFire curtains are another PFP system that can be utilised in many formats. In their simplest form they can often be seen within long shopping malls as panes of glass hanging from the ceiling creating smoke reservoirs or sheet fire curtain creating fire zones within loft spaces, but they can also be used as essential parts of fire strategies for larger buildings that cannot employ normal fire safety rules such as the curtain shown in place to contain smoke on this floor and stop it rising up the staircase.



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