Structural Fire Protection – Structural Measures to Prevent Spread of Fire
In this guide we discuss the importance of structural fire protection and some of the different measures that can be implemented in order to prevent fire spreading throughout a building.
What is Structural Fire Protection?
Structural fire protection refers to fire protection methods incorporated into a building’s design and construction. It helps to ensure that the building’s structural integrity is maintained and protected for as long as possible should a fire materialise.
Importance of Structural Fire Protection
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, many building owners have understandably become more concerned about the quality of their fire safety protection.
Structural fire protection is essential for all types of commercial, residential and industrial buildings as it significantly helps to prevent fire and smoke from spreading throughout the property. Not only does this help to contain the damage to just one area and stops the entire building from being affected, but it also provides occupants with enough time to safely evacuate the premises.
Unprotected buildings, on the other hand, allow fire and smoke to spread at an alarming rate, presenting a very serious risk to life.
What Causes Building Fires?
A whole host of different things can cause a fire to occur in a building. Here are some of the most common causes:
Particularly common in restaurants and other buildings that serve food (but also possible in any property with a kitchen area), cooking fires are among the most common types of building fires. This is because of high cooking temperatures as well as flammable oils and grease.
Heating equipment like boilers and radiators can sometimes overheat, thus leading to a fire. Electrical heaters can also cause fire if the wiring is faulty or if combustibles are left too close to them.
A wide range of electrical faults can cause fire. Short/overloaded circuits, old wiring, faulty fuses, and imbalanced electrical loads are just a few examples of electrical problems that can result in a fire.
Cigarettes and other smoking materials such as cigars can start fires if they’re not properly disposed of. Butts dropped on carpet, furniture or any other flammable material have the potential to ignite fire.
Types of Structural Fire Protection
Below we explained some of the structural measures that can be applied to a building to minimise the damage caused by fire.
Comprised of fire-stopping materials like cement mortar or glass fibre, cavity barriers segregate void spaces within walls, above ceilings and below suspended floors. Essentially, they block routes for smoke and flame to spread through concealed spaces or cavities, therefore preventing the rapid spread of fire from one area of a building to another.
Penetration sealing includes compartmentalising buildings and sealing cavities created by penetrations like cables, ventilation and piping. Intumescent sealants are most commonly used and are particularly effective as they expand in the presence of high temperatures and increase volume. In the event that a combustible service pipe melts during fire, the sealant will expand to fill the hole and prevent the fire spreading.
Fire compounding is a fire protective property that is used as a substitute when a concrete slab has penetrations, such as wires and pipework, passing through it. It ensures any gaps are securely sealed and it uses a fast setting gypsum-based system for increased structural integrity. Also, most fire compounds have a load-bearing capability, meaning it can be installed even in areas where there might be light foot-traffic.
Fire curtains physically divide the building into compartments when a fire develops. Made of glass fibre, they automatically descend to block an opening and create compartments, thus stopping smoke spreading between two areas.
A fire door is a specialist type of door specifically designed to withstand fire for as long as possible. They can be made out of a variety of materials – including timber, steel and glass – and have two key functions: when closed, they form a barrier to stop the spread of fire, and when opened, they provide an escape route.
Structural Fire Protection with CPFP
If you’re a building owner looking to improve the structural fire protection measures in your property, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team here at CPFP today.
We specialise in providing the highest levels of passive fire protection to buildings of all sizes, helping to prevent the transfer of fire, smoke and heat through walls, floors and ceilings. We offer a comprehensive range of services, including cavity barriers, penetration sealing and fire compounding, and are third-party accredited with IFCC.
To find out more about our services or to get a quote, contact us today.
See more: Passive Fire Protection Products & Materials
See more: IFCC Accreditation & Passive Fire Protection – All You Need to Know About IFCC & Passive Fire Protection