Why is it Important to Have Passive Fire Protection System in Every Australian Building?
Fire protection involves a plethora of measures, some of which are widely common like fire extinguisher, alarms or sprinklers. These are also known as active fire protection systems and their job includes detecting the potential threat of fire and putting it out before the situation goes out of control.
In a perfect world, these measures would have been sufficient to keep all the buildings safe; however, there can be system failures or other unforeseen circumstances that might render these fire fighting equipment ineffective.
Therefore, along with getting active fire protection systems, it’s crucial to get your building equipped with a passive protection system to contain and restrict the spread of fire. The passive protection systems are usually in the form of fire-resistant sealants and intumescent products that are installed in and around the equipment.
It is important to note that both active and passive fire protection systems work in tandem - you can’t rely on either of them individually to stop the spread of fire.
What is a Passive Fire Protection System?
A passive fire protection system is designed to control and contain the flames in a particular part of the building. These are designed to prevent the spread of fire from room to another and floor to floor. Additionally, passive protection systems also stop the smoke and other toxins from unfurling in other unaffected parts of the building, which can be just fatal as fire.
The basic function of a passive fire protection system is to eliminate the gaps and instal fire stops at any location where the fire might spread or cause considerable damage. By taking certain design decisions, like not using flammable materials like wood in certain parts of the building or installing a specific piece of equipment that seals a gap, can prove to be effective in containing the fire.
Here are the four key areas as outlined by experts that are considered with a passive system:
1. Structural fire protection: The key area protects the primary structural components like steel and joint systems. It can be achieved by fireproofing with flame retardant substances like concrete.
2. Compartmentalisation: It is a proven fact that creating barriers can prevent the spread of fire. The partitions include everything right from fire-rated walls to dedicated flame barriers.
3. Opening Protection: Opening crevices such as doors, air ducts or ducts that can possibly breach a fire barrier need to be strong enough to hold flames. Let’s say for an example, having a special glazing on any piece of glass can prove beneficial.
4. Firestopping - The greatest risk in term of a fire spreading is having small flaws or gaps that allow penetrations in a fire barrier. These flaws can be left (unknowingly) by the contractors like an electrician or a plumber. If these gaps are not protected with a passive firestop product, they can undermine the entire system.
Passive fire protection is a legal requirement as it acts as a safety net and keeps people inside the structure safe in an event of a fire emergency. It’s highly preferable to identify the potential fire threats quickly and put it out with an extinguisher; but with passive protection in place, you can be at peace knowing that there’s another line of defense.