How Does a Passive Fire Protection System Work?

The goal of a passive fire protection system is always to save lives, and keep buildings standing. The term ‘passive’ is used to describe a strategic use of structural design to achieve this aim. Using compartmentation, fire resistant materials, and fireproofing to seal cavities and cracks, passive fire protection contains the conflagration, impedes the spread of smoke and creates a safe passage for evacuation.


Defining ‘Active’ and ‘Passive’ Fire Protection

For most people protection against fire means sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and doors that must not be propped open. These all belong to the category of ‘active’ fire protection, so named because human agency is required to activate them. Passive fire protection is invisible. It is fully integrated into the architecture of the building and will function efficiently – without human intervention – in the event of a fire.

How Does a Passive Fire Protection System Save Lives?

Injury and loss of life are caused by 3 main factors (besides flames) in the event of a fire:

  1. Reduction in Oxygen Levels. Fire reduces the oxygen in the air to levels which cause impaired judgement, unconsciousness and death.
  2. Toxic Gas Ingress. As the fire burns, gases such as carbon monoxide, or hydrogen cyanide from burning plastics, are released. Breathing in these gases can be deadly.
  3. Smoke. This by-product of fire can fill a building very fast, causing disorientation and choking. 50-80% of fire deaths are caused by smoke.

Creating structural compartments to contain both the flames and the smoke allows for the creation of safe exit routes. Passive fire protection materials guarantee a set period of time – between 60-240 minutes – during which a safe evacuation can take place.

Fire Protection for Buildings

The heat generated by fire can do tremendous damage to buildings. Structural steel frameworks will begin to buckle and bend, threatening collapse, once temperatures between 550 – 620°C are reached. In order to maintain structural integrity, intumescent coatings are used on steel to thermally protect the metal against rising temperatures.

The use of compartmentation ensures that valuable assets or critical plant can be protected in the event of a fire. Effective fire protection will facilitate a speedy return to business thanks to the affected areas being isolated from the operational environment as a whole.


Working With Wallace Fire Protection

We are an established provider of bespoke passive fire protection solutions to the commercial sector, the construction industry, utilities and critical infrastructure. Wallace is proud to be one of just 6 licensed and approved installers of Promat DURASTEEL® across the UK.

Wallace Ltd has the in-house capability to design, manufacture and install passive fire protection. Our systems include fire protection barriers to walls, ceilings and floors; tunnels and ductwork including firestopping, sealing of pipework, ductwork and cable penetrations. We can supply and install high quality fire door sets.


Would you like to talk to a Wallace passive fire protection specialist? Call our team today on 01908 109045