It can be all too easy to lose sight of critical fire safety features, either because they’re in plain sight and taken for granted, or because they are hidden away in a building’s fabric – but passive fire protection is far too important to let it slip into the back of the mind.
Unfortunately, all-to-often passive fire only comes to the fore when it all goes wrong and fire breaks out.
However, there’s another layer of fire protection, one that is built-in – out of sight, out of mind – that is perhaps all the more critical. That’s because they limit or at least delay the spread of any fire, allowing the occupants the time to reach safety and let those active fire countermeasures to come into play.
The risks to people and buildings are clear, but with safety measures stretching across disciplines as diverse as mechanical, electrical, plumbing and glazing; it’s understandable that major contractors and building operators find it difficult to keep track.
Don't expose yourself to risk
With a range of disciplines affected, passive fire safety is habitually dealt with piecemeal by each contractor having a share of responsibility, and no one person or company having oversight of the protection. This leads to faults within the fire stopping system that expose building owners, operators and residents to increased risk. Using certified companies that can take a building-wide approach will significantly reduce the liability of contractors and building operators.
Checkmate Fire are a fully third party accredited Passive Fire Protection company with the ability – and 30 years experience in the industry – to manage your projects from inception to completion; whether they are a new build or maintenance project.
Passive fire safety can sometimes be treated as an afterthought during construction, resulting in costly retrofit projects. Ensuring a fire protection contractor is on-site as early as possible means the building adheres to a fire safety strategy and could minimise the number of penetrations in need of fire stopping, which will, in turn, reduce costs. By taking a forward-thinking approach contractors and facilities management companies can save money and ensure effective cover.
Fire stopping is a specialist trade where lives are at risk when things go wrong. In the same way that you wouldn’t select a structural engineering firm without proof that it could do the job at hand, or arrange an operation without ensuring the surgeon is qualified, you shouldn’t place fire safety responsibility with a company without the relevant credentials. Two of the top accreditations to look out for are from The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) and FIRAS. Checkmate Fire is fully accredited which provides you with the peace of mind that all work carried out adheres to the relevant standards.
Ensure products are up to spec
All too often when non-specialists are asked to approach passive fire safety, products are purchased due to cost and not to suit the application and have limited effectiveness. In some cases, where multiple contractors are involved, there is a mixture of products selected that are good in their own right but together, don’t work as a fire stopping system, rendering their effectiveness as limited at best. This may then require a full retrofit to ensure complete cover.
Furthermore, fire doors are probably the passive fire protection system most people are most familiar with; or maybe not. With them being doors, there’s a tendency to take them somewhat for granted. And it’s not just the everyday users or residents of a building that can lose sight of their essential purpose– building professionals are not necessarily immune to such slips of awareness, either.
A fire door is a vital safety device engineered to save lives and property. Its correct specification, fitting and maintenance are the responsibility of each and every person involved in the process from specification to maintenance
Fire doors are critical, of course, but they are not the only component of passive fire protection. The aim, on structural elements, is to maintain load-bearing capacity, but other aspects of passive fire protection are intended to maintain the integrity of compartments – not just to limit the spread of fire, but also heat and smoke – for as long as possible.
Passive fire protection elements include fire-resisting walls and partitions; suspended ceilings; fire-resistant glazing; cavity barriers, intumescent seals, fire-resistant ductwork, and seals for pipes, cables and other services, among others.
When it comes to shielding services from fire, a range of products are available; inserts for electrical socket boxes; loft covers; luminaire covers and fittings for lighting, sleeves for pipe and electrical ducts, and more. They all share one thing in common – to hinder the spread of fire for a specified period of time.
The absence of such passive fire protection elements can be a false economy, as well as a danger to a building and its occupants. Fire and smoke can rapidly spread through any unprotected or incorrectly protected service penetration and hidden cavities, careful selection of the fire protection products will delay or prevent this threat.
Peace of mind
Ensure the right products are specified and installed correctly, and that means third-party certificated products. Anything less is frankly an unnecessary and unacceptable risk
If you need any help or advice in determining whether you’re building is safe, don’t hesitate to contact us. Checkmate Fire can organise a Site Survey, or if you don’t have a Fire Risk Assessment or one that is ‘suitable and sufficient’ send us your details and we’ll be in touch.
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