As a facility manager, your fire safety plan must take into account that a great number of people present during a fire will have little to no training on how to quickly and safely respond. Especially in commercial facilities where there is a high percentage of foot traffic. So how can you make sure that your facility is prepared for a fire while keeping your guests safe? The answer is the building’s Passive Fire Protection System!
Passive Fire Protection (PFP) is a group of systems that help compartmentalize a building through the use of fire-resistance rated walls/floors. Compartmentalizing your facility into smaller sections helps to slow or prevent the spread of fire/smoke from one room to the next. This helps to limit the amount of damage done to a building and provides its gusts more time for evacuation. Passive Fire Protection systems includes:
- Fire Doors
- Fire and Smoke Dampers
- Photoluminescent Egress Path Marking System and Exit Signage
Fire Doors are designed to prevent fire and smoke from spreading through fire barriers. These doors serve as a regular door under normal circumstances, but will allowing your guest an easy exit during a fire. The best places for fire doors are leading to a stairwell or any horizontal exits, hazardous areas, hallways or corridors, and any fully enclosed room to another.
Fire and smoke dampers are used in the duct to prevent the spread of fire and smoke within the ventilation system of a facility. Fire Dampers are used to maintain the required ratings of fire rated barriers (walls, partitions, floors) when they are penetrated by ductwork. Similarly, smoke dampers are used in ductwork designed to resist the passage of air and smoke. Combination dampers, are used in areas where both fire and smoke barriers are located to prevent the passage of both flames and smoke.
Firestopping is the maintenance of a building’s fire barrier walls, floors and ceilings. Fire walls, partitions, and smoke barriers are designed to help prevent the spread of both fire and smoke in the event of a fire emergency. Firestop materials are used to seal off any gaps and holes surrounding penetrating items in those particular walls, floors and ceilings. Some firestop materials will swell up or expand in the presence of heat, which prevents a small gap or hole from becoming a larger gap or hole, and allowing for fire and smoke to pass through.
Photoluminescent egress path marking system and exit signs are a non-electrical systems that help visibility in smoky or blackout conditions. It creates an outline of steps, landings, handrails and any other obstacles in a smoky or dark space to prevent accidents. PL is made of quality material that is engineered to last the lifespan of your facility. It allows a building to have continual visual support over traditional emergency lighting which could become masked by smoke.
Most of the Passive Fire Protection Systems are hidden within the building. Out of sight, out of mind. However, it is important to keep up with the maintenance required for each of these systems to properly work.