In order to have in place a comprehensive strategy in the event of fire, buildings require fire protection, fire suppression and fire prevention components in place. Each of these terms describe a discrete function which, when combined, minimise the risk of harm to people, plant and building structure. In this blog the Wallace fire protection team considers the contribution each system makes in the process of safeguarding against fire.

Fire Suppression – Sprinklers, Extinguishers

Fire suppression is also known as ‘active fire protection’ because it requires an action or manual intervention to work. The aim of fire suppression is to put out the fire using a range of manual extinguishers or an automatic sprinkler system. If suppressants were used as the sole system of safeguarding against fire there would be a high risk of injury to people, equipment and structure.

Fire Prevention – Regulations & Inspections

Fire prevention requires the recognition of fire hazards – blocked fire exits, poorly maintained electrics – and ensures their removal through a regime of compliance and inspection. A workplace with fire safety reps in place, ongoing risk assessments and regular fire inspections will significantly reduce the risk of fire. The risk can never be eradicated, however, so supplementary systems need to be in place.

Fire Protection – Structural Safeguarding Against Fire

This is also known as ‘passive fire protection’ because requires no intervention to protect against a fire or explosion. Fire protection is designed to be part of the building’s structure, so it is an organic form of safeguarding. Its aim is to contain the fire, provide safe evacuation of people, and maintain the structural integrity of the building.

Fire protection utilises specialist materials to compartmentalise the building, stop the spread of smoke, and protect steelwork from the flames. All 3 are integral to creating the time and space for safe evacuation:

  • Compartmentalising – Buildings are compartmentalised, using vertical and horizontal partitions, in order to comply with fire regulations. Each compartment is fitted with fire barriers made from specialist materials that stop the fire from spreading. These go on floors, ceiling and walls to ensure that the fire is contained in a manageable way, for a specified length of time.
  • Intumescent Paints – Steelwork is at risk of collapsing if it overheats. For this reason, steel frames that support buildings are coated with intumescent paint. This material responds to heat by expanding and protecting the steelwork for up to 120 minutes. This allows time for safe evacuation, and the arrival of fire services.
  • Firestopping – For fire protection to do its work properly, compartments need to be completely sealed. Firestopping seals the gaps created by cabling, pipes or ductwork. If smoke or toxic fumes are able to spread, they can be fatal to people attempting to evacuate. Firestopping stops smoke ingress.

About Wallace Fire Protection

Wallace is a specialist provider of bespoke passive fire protection solutions to the construction industries, the commercial sector, utilities and critical infrastructure. We are proud to be one of just six licensed and approved installers of Promat DURASTEEL® across the UK.

We are committed to providing our clients with an unrivalled design and installation service focusing heavily on quality and responsiveness from tender stage right through to contract completion. All our operatives hold industry relevant certificates including Person Training, BESC, Substation Entry and Confined Spaces.

Would you like to know more about Wallace passive fire protection design and installation? Call our specialist team today on 01908 109045