FAQs

A summary of the most frequently asked questions relating to compartmentation, passive fire protection, fire stopping, and fire door inspection, installation and repair. 

Compartmentation

What is compartmentation in fire protection?

It is the process of dividing a building into smaller, fire protected rooms – almost like turning the building into multiple, self-contained ‘boxes’.

What is the main objective of fire compartmentation?

To slow the spread of fire and smoke down, essentially by containing the elements within the room of origin.

When is fire compartmentation required?

Building regulations say your building needs to be safe in the event of a fire, which includes having compartmentation built into the structure. However, according to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO), it’s not required in domestic premises unless there is a loft.

What is a fire compartmentation survey?

A defined process whereby you identify defects in existing compartmentation against a set agreed protocol.

Passive fire protection

What is passive fire protection?

It’s the built-in safety measures within a building that don’t need activating in the event of a fire. ASFP definition. According to the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), passive fire protection is ‘built into the structure to provide stability and into walls and floors to separate the building into areas of manageable risk – compartments. These areas are designed to restrict the growth and spread of fire allowing occupants to escape and offering protection for firefighters.'

What is active and passive fire protection?

Active fire protection is a detector, which needs a ‘cue’ or a fire for it to work, which then sets off a product, such as a sprinkler or an alarm. Passive fire protection is built into the structure of the building, so functions all the time; however, it is only needed during a fire.

Why is passive fire protection important?

Protecting lives, occupants, buildings and assets, passive fire protection reduces both the spread and the risk of fire. Designed so people can escape in the event of fire, it limits damage to buildings and ultimately prevents total losses.

What is an example of passive fire protection?

An example of PFP is not just simply a product, such as a collar or a fire door, it’s the process of the product being fitted properly to the appropriate, accredited standard. Unless a correctly certified product is installed in line with scope of application by an accredited 3rd party PFP business, it won’t achieve the best results.

When is passive fire protection required?

As a preventative measure for risk, passive fire protection is always required in the appropriate buildings, but particularly at the point in which a fire is in the building.

Fire Stopping

What is fire stopping in construction?

Fire stopping is a term used in Approved Document B, to reinstate a compartment (or room) back to its original fire resistance.

Why is fire stopping important?

Without fire stopping, any compartment which has a service penetration or void is useless in the event of a fire.

What are the fire stopping regulations in the UK?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) provides the overarching regulations. In addition, we also have building regulations and approved guidance (Approved Document B) to satisfy the direction, along with alternative routes such as BS9999.

Who can install fire stopping?

Legally, anyone can install fire stopping, however, only people with proven competence and 3rd party accreditation should be trusted to do so.

What is a fire stopping survey?

A defined process whereby you identify defects in existing compartmentation and door sets against an agreed protocol.

Fire Doors - General

When are fire doors required?

Fire doors are crucial in protecting the means of escape in any building, allowing safe escape through the exits, and are crucial in buildings that have a ‘stay put’ fire plan, as they provide the means to seek refuge in a compartment. However, whilst many fire doors are designed to be kept closed at all times, certain fire doors are designed to stay open under normal circumstances, and close automatically in the event of a fire.

Are fire doors a legal requirement?

Yes! Fire Doors are a fundamental element of compartmentation and are required by Approved Document B in satisfying the building regulations.

Where are fire doors required in commercial buildings?

Commercial buildings are defined in Approved Document B volume 2. To fulfil the functional requirements of the building regulations, fire doors are required in set locations in commercial buildings.

Fire Doors - Inspection

What is a fire door inspection?

A defined process whereby you confirm the door set as installed will perform in the event of a fire. This is done by inspecting all of its components against an agreed pass/fail protocol. Where information required by Regulation 38 is available, this will be considered in addition to the building’s fire strategy.

How often do fire doors need to be inspected?

Attention should be drawn to Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in respect of the requirement for maintenance of fire safety provisions, and that it is advisable you set up a regular planned preventative maintenance programme for fire doors. The following guidance could be adopted as defined in BS 8214: 2016, Clause 13, or in accordance with BS 9999: 2017, Annex I. Depending on the usage and type of fire door the frequency could be monthly, 3-monthly, 6-monthly or annually.

Are fire door inspections a legal requirement?

Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires you to maintain your fire safety provisions; fire doors are a fire safety provision and therefore it is a legal requirement that they should be inspected and maintained.

Who can inspect fire doors?

Inspections should only be carried out by suitably trained and competent individuals.

How long does it take to inspect a fire door?

The time to inspect a door can vary considerably. Factors such as those detailed below all impact how long it takes to inspect a fire door:

  • Documentation available
  • Intrusive checks
  • Access control
  • Door locations
  • Layout of building
  • Age of doors

What to do if fire doors failed inspection?

Just like a fire risk assessment, when there is a failure to a fire safety provision, you should have an action plan to address the issues within an acceptable time frame.

Fire Doors - Installation

Can anyone install a fire door?

It is recommended that fire doors should only be installed by competent fire door installers with the necessary training and experience. Using companies that hold 3rd party certification is one way of demonstrating this.

Do fire doors have to be signed off after installation?

It is good practice to have a sign off process to confirm the installation meets the requirements of the manufacturer of the supplied fire door.

Do I have to install a fire door?

Where required by the building’s fire strategy, if a fire door is part of the design to meet building regulations, then it must be installed.

Fire Doors - Repair

Who can repair fire doors?

Repairs to fire doors should only be carried out by competent installers who have the relevant knowledge and experience.

Fire Risk Assessment

What are fire risk assessments?

A Fire Risk Assessment is a process involving the systematic evaluation within a building or premises, and the factors that determine: the hazard from fire, the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur. There are both qualitative and quantitative methods of risk assessment that can be used, under the current British Standards, PAS 79-1:2020.

Are fire risk assessments a legal requirement?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires any non-domestic premises to always have an in-date fire risk assessment, including measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of fire, and identify persons at risk.

Who is responsible for carrying out a fire risk assessment?

The law states that a ‘competent person’ must undertake the FRA, this includes the building’s ‘responsible person’, who may have no formal fire safety training, beyond the help of standard fire safety risk assessment guidelines. This can in some instances lead to insufficient – and sometimes dangerous – fire risk assessments.

How often should fire risk assessments be reviewed?

Firstly, you should always have an in-date fire risk assessment, and it should be reviewed at least annually, or when the integrity of the building is compromised in any way.

How long does a fire risk assessment last?

If the integrity of the building isn’t compromised in any way, the FRA should be renewed annually.

What is a fire risk assessment report?

A fire risk assessment report typically contains the following 5 key steps.

  1. Identify the fire hazards.
  2. Identify people at risk.
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.