• fire bedroom
    July 1, 2024

    Passive fire protection is one of the biggest phrases of the moment in fire safety. A critical aspect of building design and construction, it is a key strategy for stopping the spread of fire and safeguarding occupants and buildings. In this blog, we take you through all you need to know about passive fire protection for your business.  

    • Understanding Passive Fire Protection
    • The Importance of Passive Fire Protection
    • Key Components of Passive Fire Protection
    • Benefits of Passive Fire Protection
    • Passive Fire Protection with BusinessWatch


    Understanding Passive Fire Protection

    Passive fire protection involves integrating fire-resistant materials and systems into the very fabric of a building to prevent the spread of fire and smoke and ultimately ensure that people have enough time to evacuate safely.

    Many businesses will be familiar with and will have implemented active fire protection strategies, such as sprinklers and fire alarms that need to be activated, whether by a human or a mechanical or technological process. Passive fire protection, however, does not require any form of invention as it has an ‘always on’ approach which provides constant protection. 

    Passive fire protection methods do this by containing fires within designated areas, allowing for safe evacuation routes and limiting damage to premises.  

    Evacuation plans

    The Importance of Passive Fire Protection

    Passive fire protection was brought into the spotlight in 2017, by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which looked into the reasons that led to 72 deaths and over 70 injuries from fire that broke out in West London tower block, Grenfell Tower. The inquiry looked into the causes and other related issues and affirmed that the building’s exterior did not comply with fire safety regulations and that inadequate fire protection systems were the central reasons for the spread of the fire.

    Grenfell Tower lacked adequate passive fire protection measures which helped to speed up the spread of the fire and disabled evacuation routes for residents. The inquiry found a lack of fire doors, evacuation signage and flammable cladding, to name a few. Because of this, the inquiry has influenced a change in fire safety law in the form of Fire Safety Regulations 2022

    These new regulations were laid under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order 2005 and recommended better passive fire protection and restrictions on materials used in construction and internal fire safety elements within buildings, particularly those with multiple storeys.

    The Grenfell Tower incident highlights the importance of passive fire protection and how without it, devastating events can occur. 

    grenfell tower

    Key Components of Passive Fire Protection

    There are various passive fire protection methods and strategies that can be implemented. Here’s everything you need to know:

    1. Fire-Resistant Walls & Floors

    Fire-resistant walls and floors are constructed using materials that can withstand high temperatures and therefore work to prevent the spread of fire and smoke within a building. These barriers compartmentalise a building into smaller sections, known as fire compartments, which confine a fire to its point of origin for a specified period, typically measured in hours. Common materials include fire-rated gypsum, concrete, and masonry. This gives occupants more time to evacuate the building. 

    2. Fire Doors

    Fire doors are an integral part of passive fire protection and are designed to resist fire and smoke for a specified time, usually 30 to 120 minutes. They are fitted with intumescent seals that expand when exposed to heat, sealing any gaps around the door to prevent the passage of fire and smoke. Fire doors also have self-closing mechanisms to ensure they are always closed in the event of a fire, without any need for human intervention. 

    fire door and stairs

    3. Fireproofing Coatings

    Fireproofing coatings, such as intumescent paints, expand when exposed to high temperatures, forming an insulating char layer that protects structural elements like steel beams and columns from the heat of a fire. These coatings help maintain the structural integrity of a building during a fire, reducing the risk of collapse.

    4. Fire Stopping Systems

    Fire stopping systems are a passive fire protection strategy used to seal openings and joints in fire-rated walls and floors, where services such as pipes, cables, and ducts pass through. These systems prevent the spread of fire and smoke through penetrations, maintaining the integrity of fire compartments. Materials used include fire-resistant sealants, collars, and pillows.

    5. Fire-Resistant Glazing

    Fire-resistant glazing involves the use of specially designed glass that can withstand high temperatures and prevent the passage of flames and smoke. This type of glazing is used in windows, doors, and partitions, providing both fire safety and visibility.

    Benefits of Passive Fire Protection

    1. Enhanced Safety

    Passive fire protection systems provide enhanced safety for building occupants by containing fires and smoke, allowing more time for evacuation and reducing the risk of injury or death. This containment also aids firefighters by providing safer conditions to control and extinguish the fire.

    2. Property Protection

    By limiting the spread of fire, passive measures help to protect the building and its contents by containing the fire and thus reducing fire damage, which is crucial for preserving valuable assets and minimising financial losses for businesses.

    3. Compliance with Regulations

    Building codes and fire safety regulations may mandate the use of passive fire systems, especially in the coming years. Compliance with these regulations is essential for legal occupancy and can also influence insurance premiums and liabilities.

    4. Cost-Effectiveness

    While the initial investment in passive fire protection systems might be significant, the long-term cost savings by reducing potential fire damage and the associated repair costs are worthwhile. They also require minimal maintenance compared to active fire protection systems, meaning there are likely to be fewer ongoing costs.

    Fire and exit

    Passive Fire Protection with BusinessWatch

    At BusinessWatch, we’re experts in passive fire protection. We’re passionate about protecting your people, assets and premises against fire and have several passive fire solutions to help you stay compliant and experience enhanced safety. 

    View all our solutions here or call 0330 094 7404 to speak to one of our fire safety experts.