FIRE PROTECTION & SECURITY
Fire stopping techniques are the fi rst line of defence should disaster strike and a building go up in
fl ames. Here, John Grenville, managing director of ECEX, provides a guide to the latest fi re stopping
techniques, what applications they’re best suited to, and how they should be used.
Along with kite fl ying, tug-of-war
and solo synchronised swimming,
fi refi ghting was once an Olympic sport.
At the 1900 summer Olympics in Paris,
competitions were held for both professional and
volunteer fi refi ghters, an acknowledgement of the
tremendously important job fi refi ghters perform.
Anything that makes their job less onerous
and helps save lives has to be welcomed and fi re
stopping comes into that category. Fire stopping
products can prevent the spread of fi re, smoke
and noxious gases and effective fi re stopping plays
a critical role in containing a blaze at its source,
reducing its effect on the building’s structure.
There were more than 300 fi re-related deaths in
England between 2015 and 2016 – an appalling toll.
During the same period, fi re and rescue services
attended around 162,000 fi res and there was a 3%
increase in fi res in non-residential buildings.
Fire stopping is a passive form of fi re
protection that is always at work. Based on
compartmentation of fi re and preventing collapse
through structural fi re resistance, when properly
installed and maintained, fi re stopping can save
mechanical services where they penetrate
compartment walls, or pass through fl oors.
Fire pillows, meanwhile, can be laid in courses
to completely fi ll the gaps around penetrations.
When exposed to fi re, the intumescent contents
of the pillow expand to fi ll gaps around services,
creating a rigid barrier against the spread of
smoke, toxic gases and fi re.
2) Protective wraps, bandages and collars
Pipe wraps and bandages are a simple, costeffective
substitute for fi re stop collars for use on
plastic pipework and electrical trunking in walls
and fl oors. Typically, they comprise a polythene
sheath surrounding intumescent sheets, designed
to maintain the integrity of pipework in a fi re.
Intumescent strips and smoke seals contain a
substance which, when exposed to heat, swells
to increase in volume, but not in density. These
intumescent substances are therefore very useful
in providing a fi re-proof smoke seal or barrier
when the temperature rises as a result of a fi re.
lives, assets and the building itself.
Sectioning off different parts of the building
with compartment walls, so that it halts the
spread to other rooms or fl oors, slows the spread
of fl ames should a fi re break out. However, what
happens when services such as ductwork have to
penetrate these compartment walls? And how do
these penetrations impact on the ability of the
building to prevent or slow the spread of fi re? The
solution depends on the application.
Every service passing through fi re resistant
building elements reacts in a different way to fi re,
so there is no single solution or product that will
protect all services.
Here are four of the alternatives:
1) Through penetrations
Sealants, sprays and foams are available as
are sleeves for pipes that penetrate through
compartment walls and fl oors. Indeed, there is
a wide variety of proprietary specialist products
to achieve up to a four-hour fi re rating for both
horizontal and vertical locations. These products
protect the fi re integrity around electrical and Continued on page >>>
APRIL 8 | BUILDING PRODUCTS