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What is Passive Fire Protection?

Simply put, passive fire protection is about designing a building in such a way that it guards against the spread of fire, if one were to start. This can be contrasted with active fire protection: systems which require a certain amount of motion or response to utilise, for example, fire extinguishers.

In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look into passive fire protection and how it’s implemented throughout buildings.


Compartmentation is one of the most essential elements of passive fire protection, and is achieved by dividing a building up into separate fire compartments through the use of fire doors, fire-resistant walls and other elements. But what does compartmentation actually do?

  • Prevents the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gas to other areas of a building.
  • Provides ample time and a clear path for occupants to safely evacuate the premises.
  • Subdivides buildings into more manageable areas of risk, making it much easier to identify the correct areas to focus on fire prevention.

Ultimately, compartmentation means that, if a fire were to break out, it would be much easier to contain it in a single room. Considering the fact that 44% of people who die in fires aren’t in the room where the fire originated, it’s easy to see why compartmentation is so important.

While many organisations conduct regular fire risk assessments, not all of these will include full compartmentation surveys, especially if the building in question is particularly difficult to assess. However, to maximise a building’s fire safety rating, active and passive fire protection must work harmoniously.

Key features of passive fire protection

Fire Doors: fire doors are one of the most essential parts of passive fire protection. In the event of a fire, these doors can be triggered to close automatically, and their high resistance ratings mean that they can withstand heat far better than regular doors.

Air Sealing: air sealing essentially reduces the number of ingress points for smoke in the event of a fire. Given that it’s often the smoke that kills occupants, not necessarily the fire itself, good air sealing is paramount.

Fire Dampers: given that many buildings will have HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, fire dampers are often installed to prevent these systems from becoming conduits for flames. These dampers are triggered by a rapid rise in heat and will prevent air flow through the system.

Cable Coatings: if a fire breaks out, electricity cabling can cause the fire to spread quickly. However, with special fire-resistant cable coatings installed, the spread of flames is halted. The coatings work by expanding in reaction to extreme heat, creating a secure layer between the cabling and the flames. This often means that, once the fire has been extinguished, the cabling is salvageable.

Target Fire Protection operates throughout Rochdale, Oldham, Bury, Leeds, Liverpool & Manchester working with customers nationwide. Whatever it is you require we offer first-rate fire safety courses, fire risk assessments, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, PAT testing, dry riser and hydrant testing and fire safety signage. For free advice, call our expert team today.

For free, impartial advice, call our expert team: 0800 030 6079

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