Passive Fire Protection is vital to the stability and integrity of a building or structure in case of fire. It is so important in the UK because there are:

  • 115 fires per day
  • 700 lives lost per year because of fire
  • 18,100 injuries per year due to fire
  • £1.1 billion worth of property lost or damaged per year

Passive Fire protection with proven fire performance properties is built into the structure to provide stability and separate the building into areas of manageable risk. These are designed to restrict the growth and spread of fire allowing the occupants to escape or the fire fighters to do their job. Such fire protection is either provided by the materials from which the building is constructed, or is added to the construction materials to enhance their fire resistance. Recommendations for fire resistance or firestopping are expressed in terms of time and the ability of dividing elements such as walls or floors to contain fire and/or maintain insulation values. Load bearing elements are required to maintain their capacity and/or integrity for the basic framework of the building, and include any element or service that provides an opening or passes through the walls, floors, or fire separating elements. It is vital that these fire protection measures are correctly designed, specified and installed if the building is to behave as expected should fire break out. By their nature they are ‘passive’ until there is a fire and only then will their fire performance in-situ be demonstrated. The occupants of a building will attend to their daily business, visitors will shop, be entertained, or enjoy recreation without any knowledge of the Passive Fire Protection measures that will protect them in fire. However, it is essential that these fire protection measures will work if an emergency occurs.

Built-in fire protection and Passive Fire Protection (PFP)

Most construction materials have some natural resistance to fire and as such comprise built-in fire protection. This natural fire resistance may be enhanced by the use of added materials or components that are known by the collective term Passive Fire Protection. These are called passive because they do not need any special energisation or command signal to operate, (although some systems such as dampers and certain types of doors may be designed to operate from such methods).

Passive Fire Protection includes:

  • Cavity barriers
  • Ceiling systems
  • Compartment walls
  • Fire doors and furniture (eg self-closing devices, latches etc)
  • Fire fighting shafts and stairwells
  • Fire-resisting air transfer grilles (mechanical or intumescent)
  • Fire-resisting dampers (mechanical or intumescent) used in horizontal or vertical air distribution ducts
  • Fire-resisting ductwork
  • Fire-resisting glazing
  • Fire-resisting service ducts and shafts
  • Fire-resisting walls and partitions
  • Firestopping to service penetrations in walls
  • Firestopping to joints and gaps
  • Firestopping to service penetrations in floors
  • Floors
  • Hinged or pivoted fire doorsets (timber or steel)
  • Industrial fire shutters (rolling or folding)
  • Intumescent paint
  • Linear gap seals
  • Penetration seals for pipes, cables and other services
  • Structural frame fire protection
  • Suspended ceilings
  • Membrane ceilings (horizontal partitions)
  • The building envelope, eg fire-resisting external walls, curtain walls etc.