Passive fire protection, and fire-stopping in particular, is a vital component of a building’s fire safety measures. Accurate product selection and installation should be central to fire safety planning to ensure maximum efficacy.
The mere existence of fire-stopping products is not sufficient confirmation of compliant installation. Rather, installation should be thoughtfully planned, meticulously executed and regularly monitored to prevent a ‘tick-box’ approach.
To ensure this, several factors should be considered at the early planning stages:
Consistent collaboration between sub-contractors
Installation requires the combined input of dry liners, fire-stopping specialists, service engineers and joinery companies. However, the requirements of a particular sub-contractor may be overlooked when another sub-contractor is completing works. This can result in problems such as poorly formed service openings in dry lining and insufficient space for fire stopping around pipes or cable trays. All parties need an understanding of the correct detailing and sizing of builders’ work holes for service penetration, and this is best addressed as early as possible to prevent the need for corrective measures. Workshops are an excellent platform for communication and collaboration between designers, sub-contractors and manufacturers, and allow potential oversights to be ironed out.
Early selection of products
Early selection of building products can be beneficial for all aspects of a building programme, but has the added advantage of enabling detailed design. Knowledge of the selected products at the design stage allows their features and parameters to be factored in so that design is compliant with the manufacturers’ details. For example, the correct pipe lagging must be selected where it passes through fire-stopping; correct detailing must also be ensured for HPE mastic for different pipe sizes where it penetrates fire compartments.
Timely consideration of cavity barriers in floor and ceiling voids
Cavity barriers are an important passive fire protection measure that stops the spread of fire and smoke within concealed floor and ceiling voids. If these are overlooked in the early stages of construction, rectifying this oversight can be costly and disruptive. Planning and installing cavity barriers as part of co-ordinated floor, ceiling and services installation prevents this essential aspect of fire-stopping from being missed or poorly fitted.
Use of independent inspection services
Even with solid measures in place, incorrect installation can occur. An independent fire inspector can carry out relevant evaluations and witnessing, and point out any necessary remedial works. Our inspectors undertake inspections of all passive fire protection including external envelopes, compartment wall and floor construction, service penetration, fire-resistant duct work and dampers, fire doors and shutters, fire protection to structural frames, and fire-stopping.
In light of recent concerns surrounding fire safety, placing passive fire protection measures at the top of the agenda is key, from design stages through to completion. Undertaking consistent independent monitoring can prevent the oversight of vital components and ensure compliant installation of fire safety products.
For more information on our fire safety inspection services, please contact Tim Jackson.