What is passive fire protection and why is it essential?

FM newsroom – facility management, fire safety. In the event of a fire, measures to minimize the spread are essential to limit damage in a building. Facility operators should think beyond basic firefighting equipment such as sprinklers and extinguishers and implement passive fire protection systems to protect lives and assets.

PFP systems prevent and minimize fire damage

Passive fire protection (PFP) helps safeguard people and limit damage to buildings and their contents from fire and smoke, Buildings.com explains, adding that PFP systems work behind the scenes and are key to a fully integrated fire protection system. Passive systems support active fire protection (AFP) including fire sprinklers or fire alarms,  primarily they are not aimed to extinguish fire, but to prevent and minimize fire spread.

Structural tools to slow the spread of fire

Buildings.com lists four main areas within the structural components that are designed to slow the fire’s spread by removing fuel sources. They include structural protection, opening protection, compartmentation and firestopping materials.

Structural protection: Use products like fireproof cladding, gypsum-based plaster, spray-on intumescent, or mineral wool wraps and insulation to support structural protection, withstanding the fire effects.

Opening protection: Similar to fire and smoke dampers built into the building’s duct systems, fireproof doors and windows serve as fire and smoke barriers.

Compartmentation: Compartmentation of areas behind walls with fire barriers, partitions and smoke barriers, as well as fire-rated floors and ceilings, contain fires and lessen the fire and smoke damage within a building.

Firestopping materials: Fire can easily escape the walls through weak points of a building, such as plumbing or electrical work. Fire retardant coatings on cables and wires, as well as perimeter fire retardants, can improve fire safety measures within a structure.

Products improving a building’s fire safety, such as fire-resisting doors and furniture, fire shutters and curtains, compartment partitions and fire-resisting external walls, curtain walls, and suspended ceilings can often be incorporated following construction. 

Why is it unbeatable to add fire protection to the structural frame?

The use of fireproofing materials can slow down the heating of a steel structure when it is exposed to fire. As steel heats up, it loses strength and stiffness, posing a risk to the structure’s stability as well as the safety of its occupants. (Carbon steel loses 50% of its strength when it reaches 590 degrees Celsius.)

Passive fire protection can slow the heat increase and allow people more time to evacuate the building while reducing irreparable damage or collapse before the flames are extinguished. 


You might also like