What is Passive Fire Protection

An important element of fire safety strategy - Fire protection comes in two forms: active and passive.  Active Fire Protection(AFP)includes measures like fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and emergency lighting.  Passive Fire Protection (PFP) is built into the fabric of the building in the form of fire-resistant floors, walls, fire rated ducting, fire stopping and doors. Active and passive fire protection systems are designed to work together during a fire, not one in place of the other and it is important that both systems are properly working in the event of a fire.

What is Passive Fire Protection?

Passive Fire Protection (PFP) systems are important 'buildt-in'components of structural fire protection and fire safety in a building.  They compartmentalise a building through the use of fire-resistance rated walls and floors, keeping the fire from spreading quickly and providing time to for people to escape from the building.

Passive Fire Protection Overview

  • Dampers are used in a facilities ducts to prevent the spread of fire/smoke throughout the building’s ductwork system.
  • Fire doors help compartmentalise a building, while giving its occupants means of escape.
  • Fire walls and floors help separate the building into compartments to stop the spread of fire/smoke from room to room.
Fire Protection systems compartmentalise a building through the use of fire-resistance rated walls and fire rated ducting and doors and provide protection and stability to the structural elements,  keeping the fire from spreading quickly and providing time for the safe exit of occupants and the entrance of the fire brigade into the building.

Structural fire protection ensures the stability of structural elements (such as steel, concrete or timber beams/columns) in the event of a fire. This is reached by applying adequate products onto the structural element, such as boards or sprays.

Illustration of fire compartmentation
Compartmentation is a defined area in a building constructed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke from another part of the building (or an adjoining building) to create a ‘box’. Compartments are always vertical (fire rated floors/ceilings) and horizontal (fire rated walls) and are often penetrated by services such as cables, pipes and ducts. These penetrations need to be sealed in order to maintain the tightness of the compartment. 

Penetrations are sealed by a combination of coatings, mortars, collars, wraps, sealants and fire retardant insulation. There is no single solution or product that will protect all services, as the service material (plastic, steel, rubber, for example) vary so widely and react differently in a fire. 

What is Active Fire protection?

Active Fire Protection is a group of systems that require some amount of action in order to work efficiently in the event of a fire. These actions may be manually operated, like a fire extinguisher or automatic, like a sprinkler. So, when fire and smoke is detected in a facility, a fire/smoke alarm will alert those who are inside the building and work to actively put out or slow the fire.  Sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers help slow the growth of the fire until firefighter have a chance to get there. Once firefighters arrive, they use fire extinguishers and fire hoses to put out the fire altogether.

Active and passive fire protection systems, although different, are important to a building's overall fire safety. AFP uses systems that take action in putting out the fire, while PFP uses systems that help prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Just because one is working doesn’t mean you should ignore the other, or that one is more important than the other. Therefore, to ensure that a building has total fire protection, both AFP and PFP should be working together in unison.

Fire Testing Performance

Promat’s passive fire protection products and systems are tested by independent, third party testing authorities such as Certifire and Firas.

It is an ongoing assessment process with materials tested periodically to ensure ongoing consistency and technical performance. 

(Other, cheaper, non-accredited alternatives are available from other manufacturers but they do not guarantee system performance.)

Fire testing

Testing for fire V Reaction to fire

There is a difference between testing for fire resistance and reaction to fire.

1. Reaction to fire measures the material behaviour per product and how it contributes to the growth of a fire. This is important in a hotel building, where furniture, curtains, carpets, etc. are non-combustible or low combustible. At Promat, we also test our products for reaction to fire.

2. Fire resistance prevents the spread of fire from one compartment to another and is tested for every system. 

Reaction to fire

Competence of installers
Any fire protection system is only as good as the installation and vice versa.   Substandard versions of either cause long term issues as well as slowing down build time.  

  • Promat recommends installers who are third party accredited by bodies such as UKAS and the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP).
  • Passive fire protection with accredited materials and installers saves lives and protects property.