top of page

Passive Fire Protection

INTRODUCTION


The purpose of this Technical Bulletin is to emphasise the important role that passive fire protection plays in the assessment and control of life safety, property and business risks and its influence on EML calculations; also, to highlight the availability of a number of excellent publications from which detailed guidance on this key subject can be obtained.


Passive fire protection provides primary protection for a building, its contents and occupants by providing, in the event of fire, fundamental compartmentation, structural stability, fire separation and safe means of escape. Protecting the structure will also maintain building serviceability after a fire by limiting its impact, helping to minimise rebuilding costs, and facilitating quicker business recovery and continuity post incident.


Passive systems typically include:


  • steelwork protection

  • drywall systems and boards

  • protected ductwork and dampers

  • fire stopping and penetration seals

  • fire doors and shutters (TB63 refers)

  • sealants and special hardware for doors

  • fire-resisting glazing and glazing seals.


Passive fire protection measures achieve their objective by a combination of the following effects:


  • raising the fire resistance of the structure

  • reducing fire spread through secondary ignition

  • providing resistant physical barriers against fire

  • limiting the movement of smoke and other products of combustion, and

  • minimising the danger of fire-induced collapse or structural distortion.


Whilst recognising that passive protection in respect of property and business risks becomes more relevant when dealing with large or complex buildings, it may also have an application for smaller premises, for example, when considering compartmentation to a boiler room or around a critical IT facility, and therefore in the context of surveys in the SME sector should not be disregarded.


DOCUMENTED GUIDANCE


The following RISCAuthority publications concerning passive fire protection are posted in ATLAS:


  • LPC Design Guide for the Fire Protection of Buildings 2000. Originally published by the LPC/FPA, this document now resides under the control of the RISCAuthority. Certain sections of this document have been further developed and republished under the BDM series documents below.

 

  • Design guide for the fire protection of buildings:

    • BDM1 – Essential principles

    • BDM2 – Compartmentation

    • BDM3 – Warehouse and storage buildings

    • BDM4 – Cold stores

    • BDM5 - Food factories

    • BDM6 – Protection of openings/penetrations

    • BDM7 – Protected zone


In addition, the Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) has published an excellent document entitled: Guide to Inspecting Passive Fire Protection for Fire Risk Assessors. Whilst this tends to be focused towards life safety/means of escape, it nevertheless is a first class publication providing a wealth of guidance on passive protection measures. This publication is considered to be essential reading and can be downloaded at www.asfp.org.uk, where other passive protection guidance documents are available.


Promat UK Ltd., a leading supplier of passive fire protection products, has produced The Passive Fire Protection Handbook. This is a comprehensive publication covering a vast array of products and applications and can be downloaded at www.promat.co.uk..


Finally, Rockwool has published the latest version of the ROCKWOOL FIREPRO® Book which can be downloaded here. This guide provides free access to a wide variety of technical data and installation guidance across the entire FIREPRO range of passive fire protection products, and has been posted in ATLAS.

 

APPROVED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES


The use of passive fire protection products and services which have obtained third party approval should always be the recommended route. Accredited UK schemes include:


  • Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB Approved Products and Services -www.redbooklive.com)

  • FIRAS Installer Certification Scheme (operated by Warrington Certification Ltd -www.warringtoncertification.com)

  • CERTIFIRE Product Certification Scheme (operated by Warrington Certification Ltd)

  • IFC Certification Ltd (Product and Installer Certification Schemes -www.ifccertification.com)

 

INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE


Recognising the need that passive fire protection measures require attention to routine care and maintenance is essential if the desired fire performance is to be achieved throughout the lifespan of the building. Similarly, alterations in relation to the original building design and layout will invariably result in the need for passive fire protection to be revisited.


Typical issues that are commonly encountered as a result of a lack of awareness by building owners/occupants, and to which Consultants need to be alert, include:


  • Poorly fitting or damaged fire doors

  • Impact damage to structural steelwork protection

  • Service penetrations in compartment walls, floors or service risers inadequately fire stopped

  • Displacement of cavity barriers, for instance, in roof and ceiling voids

  • Impact damage to compartment walls, particularly drywall systems.


Dealing specifically with fire doors, shutters and fire dampers, planned maintenance should ensure that these are inspected and tested at routine intervals commensurate with the risk and the environment in which they are situated. As a minimum recommendation, automatic fire doors, shutters and spring-operated fire dampers should be tested annually by specialist fire protection contractors or competent site engineers.

 

FURTHER REFERENCE


Technical Bulletin (63) – Fire Doors and Shutters.

bottom of page