FIRE PROTECTION & SECURITY
3) Construction joints
Intumescent acrylic or silicone-based sealants
typically applied by a sealant ‘gun’ are designed
to offer fire resistant sealing to joints and services
penetrations, and to protect against the spread of
smoke, toxic gases and fire.
The sealants tend to vary in movement
characteristics. Acrylic sealants do not move much
so, of course, they should not be used where
movement in joints is high. For good adhesion,
the surfaces of the building element must be free
of dust or grease and suitably primed.
4) Structural protection
There are fire stopping products specifically
designed to protect the structural frame of a
building, enabling it to retain its load bearing
strength for a certain amount of time. Time periods
tend to be stipulated to requirements in building
regulations, safety case studies or safety designs,
according to the type of structure involved.
issue nowadays with the advent of prefabricated
pipework module hangers and multi-service
support systems with cable trays, ladders, ductwork
and pipework all in the same assembly).
But, beware: even with an all-inclusive
approach, designing protection into a building is
not always possible; the fire engineer may have to
retrofit fire stopping products.
Fire resistance in
buildings begins with
compartmentation – the
separation of areas from
each other so that a fire
starting in one place will
spread to others slowly
or not at all, allowing
building occupants time
Any fire stopping product should be tested
before being placed on the market.
That means it should have all of its fire test
information to support whatever claims are being
made in terms of its appropriateness and where it
can be used.
The trouble is that people often fail to fully
appreciate the connection between what was
actually tested and has got that result, and what it
might be used for in reality.
So, the overarching message is: it pays to
employ the professionals.
Fire protection tips
• Bring in the fire protection experts at an early
stage, ideally when designing the building.
• Follow the instructions set out by the fire
• Check service fire dampers annually to
verify that they are operating correctly.
However, beware: the fact that a damper
may function doesn’t mean that the
penetration is sealed.
• Ensure that someone is accountable for
any changes to fire stopping measures and
is prepared to sign them off.
• Identifying appropriate products and
systems is essential to ensuring that the
resultant installation will be fit for purpose.
• There’s nothing wrong with effective and
appropriately installed products that
have gone through the test process. Bad
installation is usually the problem, so seek
professional guidance in the installation of
passive fire protection.
• Any fire protection product should display
all its fire test information to support
whatever claims are being made in terms of
its appropriateness and where it can be used.
• Reinstating compartments is one of
the biggest on-site fire protection
challenges, particularly above ceilings and
below floors, after a building has been
refurbished. Compartmentation can be
achieved by dividing the building into a
series of fire-tight boxes – or compartments
– which prevent the passage of smoke, heat
and toxic gases.
Effective fire protection involves early engagement,
with designers talking to manufacturers and
installers that understand the systems. This
will allow the right systems and materials to be
selected early in the project to ensure that the
building is constructed with the best possible fire
protection in place.
price often trumps
best quality in the
construction sector and
this is typically driven
by the project owner. So
the challenge often lies
in getting them to really
appreciate the value of
having the project built
correctly in the first place.
Exacerbating this, there is often a disjoint
between the work packages. So, who is actually
responsible for fire stopping? Is it the ductwork
contractor, the people responsible for the partitions,
or someone else?
It is vital that the project team understands
who takes responsibility for the different work
packages, and to make this explicit.
Part of the reason for poorly-designed fire
protection stems from looking at fire and ductwork
in isolation rather than holistically, as part of
a system (although this is becoming less of an
So, who is actually
responsible for fire
<<< Continued from page 17
18 BUILDING PRODUCTS | APRIL 2018
Fire stopping work underway