The Importance of Passive Fire Protection in the Workplace
For employees, fire safety tends to focus on active fire protection – extinguishers, alarms and sprinklers. These are only half the story, though. Life-saving fire stopping solutions require both active, and passive fire protection to be effective.
UK government statistics show that Fire & Rescue Services attended 15,577 non-dwelling fires in the year 2017/18. 20 fatalities were recorded, as a result of fire, and 994 non-fatal casualties. In the majority of the fires attended, lives were saved as a direct result of passive fire protection enabling the containment of the fire within one area of the building.
The Role of Passive Fire Protection
Passive fire protection design for the workplace has two primary aims:
- To prevent the spread of fire throughout the building
- To maintain the structural integrity of the building in the face of fire
Compartmentation is the core function of passive fire protection design. Containing smoke, heat and flames in one particular area of the building, for a specified period of time, allows an orderly evacuation to take place. Workplaces need to be able to plan and rehearse their response to a fire event; passive fire protection gives them the guarantees required to achieve this.
Compartmentation for Effective Fire Protection
Compartmentation is designed to contain a workplace fire in the area where it first starts. It’s not only the flames which need to be stopped from spreading throughout the building. Heat can cause structural damage to a structural steel framework which could lead to collapse. Smoke inhalation can be fatal for employees trying to find their way out of a burning building.
Compartmentation Solutions for the Workplace
There are a range of passive fire protection solutions that can be designed in to a workplace to ensure effective compartmentation:
- Fire Doors. Impact and blast resistant fire doors ensure that even in high risk environments fire can be contained successfully.
- Fire and Blast Resistant Panels. These are used to protect evacuation routes from heat, smoke and fire.
- Cavity Barriers. Stopping the spread of fire through hidden spaces in the building such as voids, dropped ceilings and raised floors.
Minimising Structural Damage Caused by Fire
Should a fire break out, the immediate priority will be employees safety. At Wallace Fire Protection we design to provide between 1-4 hours of evacuation time. Our design process also takes into consideration post-fire planning. Our design specialists will create a system that minimises the damage to the building, allowing for a speedy repair and recovery to business.
One of the most devastating by products of a workplace fire can be the water damage caused by sprinklers. Containing the fire, heat and smoke to one specific area of the building will minimise the triggering of the sprinkler system, and the length of the remediation process following the conflagration.
About Dunbar Wallace
Wallace Fire Protection is a specialist contractor. We provide passive fire protection to industry, and we have a second-to-none reputation when it comes to designing innovative passive fire protection solutions for high risk environments such as power stations, nuclear plants, and the construction industries.