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The Importance of Passive Fire Protection in Buildings

Importance of Passive Fire Protection in Buildings

Fire protection in buildings is unquestionably crucial to establishing safety. These systems help save lives and minimise property damage by warning people when a fire breaks out.

But much of the emphasis on fire safety is on passive fire protection materials that contain raging fires in buildings, especially during long, hot and dry summers.

Before discussing the passive fire prevention system, let us compare the two types of fire protection systems.

Types of Fire Protection Systems

There are two primary forms of fire-protection systems: passive and active.

Passive Fire Protection Systems

Passive fire protection uses the components of a structure to control or contain a fire. In other words, it keeps fire and smokes out by using fire-stopping materials on walls, floors, and ceilings. For example, a layer of stucco on walls can withstand the passage of a typical fire for an hour.

Additionally, these barriers establish compartments within the structure, which helps regulate the size of a fire. They also prevent it from spreading to other parts of the building. Thus, fire is contained while allowing occupants to escape in an emergency.

Active Fire Protection Systems

Active fire protection, on the other hand, involves direct physical activity to halt the spread of fire or smoke. It is a mechanism that must be triggered for it to function.

The most prevalent types of active fire defence include fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and smoke control systems. To activate extinguishing systems or alert building residents and the fire brigade, they must first detect smoke or heat.

Why is passive fire protection in buildings necessary?

In Australia, residential fires claim more lives than all other natural catastrophes combined. According to studies, smoke accounts for a significant portion of the fatalities. The most disproportionately affected are the elderly, those with impairments, and those living alone.

Most of these fires start in the bedroom or living room when burning embers fall on upholstered furniture. Since modern furniture is often made of plastic and foam, it hastens the growth and spread of a fire.

Plastics have a very high flame spread compared to wood. They also emit a lot of dense, black smoke. Foam, on the other hand, burns quickly. Consequently, it generates high heat, thick smoke, and explosive and hazardous fumes.

But if your building has passive fire protection systems, you can avoid these horrific incidents. Enclosing a building with fire-resistant materials limits its spread by dividing it into smaller, more controllable pieces.

Early detection of fire and smoke is crucial, but so is fire containment

How Do PFP Systems Function?

PFP Systems do not aim to extinguish a fire. Instead, they isolate a fire at its source and prevent flames from spreading throughout the building via clever compartmentation.

That entails dividing the building into smaller sections to contain the fire by using fire dampers or fire-rated walls. The fire eventually dies while remaining within these regulated zones.

PFP Systems Foundation

To understand the passive fire prevention system deeper, let's explore its four primary components.

1. Structural Fire Protection

This area uses fire-resistant or endothermic materials to safeguard essential structural components from the effects of fire, such as structural steel and joint systems.

2. Compartmentation

Partitioning needs firewalls and smoke barriers to keep a fire from spreading throughout a structure. For example, walls can extend from a fire-rated floor to a fire-rated ceiling above to completely protect the compartments. Even if a building collapses, these fire-rated walls will remain standing.

3. Opening Protection

This fire protection measure refers to completing the fire barrier at points in the building where air ducts pass through fire-rated or smoke-resistant components. Examples of opening protection are fire and smoke dampers.

4. Firestopping Materials

Smoke can readily flow upward and spread through the building if it gets into a chase wall during a fire. Fire barriers must be gap-free or sealed with a firestop system.

The Benefits of Passive Fire Protection Systems

To emphasise its significance, here's a quick rundown of the advantages of having passive fire protection in buildings.

  • It gives people more time to leave safely. Furthermore, it provides emergency services more time to respond and put out the fire.

  • Controlling the dispersion of hazardous smoke helps minimise nearby residents' thermal damage and poisoning.

  • It reduces financial risk. Uncontained fires can cause considerable damage to a building, which can be very costly to repair.

  • It continues to function even if the power goes out because it does not require electricity. You won't have anything to worry about if a fire occurs during power outages.

  • It reduces the risk of structural damage, lowering the building's insurance premiums.

Final Thoughts on Fire Protection Systems

Passive fire protection in buildings provides substantial value to the structure and significantly contributes to its residents' safety. But the relevance of active fire protection systems should not be ignored.

Fire prevention is most effective when passive and active measures work together and support each other. Using a combined approach gives residents the best chance of fleeing the building while ensuring their safety and minimising property damage.

Finally, fireproofing your building does not have to be costly and complicated. Simple passive fire safety solutions, such as fire curtains, can help keep your renters safe and lessen the financial impact of a fire.

To learn more about it, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Call us on 1300 226 820 or send an email to

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