Firestopping is a critical ingredient in passive fire protection. If it is neglected, or poorly installed a compartmentation system will fail quite quickly. Fire and smoke will spread to outside the area of origin and cause intense damage throughout the building to both the structure, and the occupants. In this blog, the Wallace team considers the role firestopping plays in creating structural resilience and saving lives.
What is Firestopping?
Firestopping is the sealing of apertures created by service routes through walls and ceilings. The aim of firestopping is to prevent flames, smoke or heat from passing through multiple fire resistant compartments. When applied effectively, firestopping prevents vertical or lateral fire spread, and so maintains the guaranteed evacuation period during which people may leave the building safely.
There are two key firestopping materials which are used to deal with service gaps:
- Cementitious Coating. This is a non-reactive compound system using gypsum or cement. Its high melting point makes it an ideal coating around pipes, ducts or cables. A coating density of 10-20mm is recommended.
- Intumescent Paint. This is a reactive coating which is normally water or silicone based. The paint swells in response to high temperature, and this provides thermal insulation for structures. It’s particularly effective when applied to steel.
Both materials do a similar job of stopping the spread of smoke, gases and heat. Intumescent paint is particularly favoured for use with steel structures which are in danger of buckling in high temperatures. Firestopping with either cementitious, or intumescent materials provides up to four hours of fire protection.
Firestopping Installation and Ongoing Maintenance
As a critical element of passive fire protection, it’s important that firestopping materials are installed by trained professionals. It is only when this condition is met that your system can be allocated a rating between 30-240 minutes of fire protection.
Once passive fire protection is in place it requires ongoing inspections, routine maintenance and the replacement of firestopping materials if necessary. This can be carried out by a building/safety manager who knows the service routes, and the firestopping currently in place. Should building work be carried out, any compromised firestopping will need to be replaced with an identical system, and installed by a professional.
About Wallace Fire Protection Ltd.
We are a specialist provider of bespoke passive fire protection solutions to the commercial sector, the construction industry, utilities and critical infrastructure. Wallace Fire Protection is proud to be one of just six licensed and approved installers of Promat DURASTEEL® fire barriers, blast protection and firestopping spray coatings in the UK.
Our skilled and experienced team is committed to providing clients with full-service passive fire protection design and installation. We place great emphasis on quality and responsiveness from tender stage right through to contract completion. All our operatives hold industry relevant certificates including BESC, Person Training, Substation Entry and Confined Spaces.