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Passive Fire Protection

What Is Passive Fire Protection (PFP)

Passive Fire Protection  involves components adopted in an attempt to contain fires or slow the spread of fire. It is one of the three forms of structural fire protection, along with active fire protection and fire prevention.

The purpose of PFP is to maximize the time available to evacuate a property, or prevent a fire from taking hold in the first place.

PFP measures are intended to contain a fire in the fire compartment of origin, thus limiting the spread of fire and smoke for a limited period of time, as determined the local building code and fire code. PFP measures, such as firestops, fire walls, and fire doors, are tested to determine the fire-resistance rating of the final assembly, usually expressed in terms of hours of fire resistance (e.g., ⅓, ¾, 1, 1½, 2, 3, 4 hour).

The effectiveness of PFP products depends on their quality. The manufacturers of PFP products need to ensure their products fulfil the required fire-resistant performance. Therefore, PFP products need to be verified through fire testing and certified by a third-party inspector.

Why is Passive Fire Protection Important?

Below are some of the main reasons passive fire protection is important.

Saves Lives: Passive fire protection measures help to limit the spread of fire and can therefore save lives. If a fire starts, through passive measures, it should be relatively contained in a compartment, allowing those around to escape the area and leave the building.

Through designing structural passive fire protection and carefully implementing correct measures in vital places, occupants can safely escape a building in the event of fire.

Limits Fire Spread: Saving lives in the event of a fire is the number one priority, achieved through reducing the spread of the fire and smoke. Passive fire protection measures include cavity barriers, penetration sealing and fire compounding, all with the united aim of limiting fire and smoke spread.

Protects Building Structure: Fire, and its extreme heat, can do great damage to buildings and their internal structure. From collapse to creating unstable foundations, fire can cause buildings to become unsafe and endanger lives. Passive fire protection can maintain building structural integrity and keep critical structural members secure.

Legal Regulations: Having effective fire protection measures in a building is required by law on both domestic and non-domestic properties. Although the level of fire resistance and rules depends on the type of building, its use, and when it was built, some level of both active and passive fire protection is required to be compliant with regulations.

An example of fire safety measure regulations for residential buildings is BS 9991 whereby it is required buildings have measures in place to control the spread of flames. Other such regulations exist for all kinds of buildings and demonstrates the importance of passive fire protection in terms of both legal compliance and great advantage to having effective measures in place.

Protects Assets: Valuable assets within a building can be protected from the treat of fire due to passive fire protection. Whether it is valuable stock in a storeroom or the electrics centre, certain assets may require special and specific fire management strategies to reduce risk of explosions or huge financial loss.


Where passive fire protection can be used

• High rise buildings
• Hotels
• Factories
• Historic buildings
• Hospitals
• Care homes
• Schools
• Supermarkets
• Tunnels
• Car Parks
• On-shore hydrocarbon
• Off-shore hydrocarbon
• Railways installations


Areas of Passive Fire Protection

There are four (4) major areas of passive fire protection, they are:

  1. Structural fire protection: Structural fire protection guards essential structural components (such as structural steel and joint systems) from the effects of fire.
  2. CompartmentalizationThis involves the fire barriers, firewalls, fire partitions, and smoke barriers are all included in compartmentation.
  3. Opening protection: Fire doors and windows are installed in an opening of a fire barrier to maintain its fire resistance.
  4. Firestopping materials: These materials are used to limit fire spread through penetrations in a fire barrier.

Examples Of Passive Fire Protection Products?

Examples of PFP products can be as followed:

  • Fire doors
  • Fire-resistant walls, floors, ceilings and ducts
  • Cementitious coatings
  • Intumescent coatings
  • Fire shutters
  • Fire dampers
  • Fire-resistant glass
  • Spray-applied epoxy intumescent and subliming coatings
  • Fiberglass materials
  • Penetrations seals systems for pipes, cables, etc.


Passive Fire Protection Regulations

These are some regulations that control the fire endurance testing certification of the passive fire protection components.

Examples of testing that underlies certification listing includes:

  • Europe: BS EN 1364
  • Netherlands: NEN 6068
  • Germany: DIN 4102
  • United Kingdom: BS 476
  • Canada: ULC-S101
  • United States: ASTM E119


External Resource


Further reading

Fire Safety Engineering: Why you should enroll & Where

Fire safety plan & PDF Template

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