A Guide To Passive Fire Protection
Passive fire protection is a vital part of the defence against fire in any building. You may
have heard of this term before, but if you’re unsure exactly what it is, how it differs from
active fire protection and how important it is, then this article is for you.
This month, we’re going to introduce passive fire protection and the role it plays in helping to
What is passive fire protection?
Sometimes referred to as PFP, passive fire protection is almost exactly as it sounds:
provision for fire safety that is dormant within your building, but provides protection against
fire should the worst happen. You don’t have to do anything; in the event of a fire, passive
fire protection features will either already be in the right place or are activated by the heat of
a fire. However, this only applies if your building has been professionally constructed and
maintained with passive fire protection in mind.
Passive fire protection is also tied into The Building Regulations, making it a legal obligation
for buildings to meet fire safety standards. This applies to both dwellings and buildings other
than dwellings, with the regulations set out in Approved Document B in two separate
volumes, both updated in 2020.
We’ll talk through the key elements of passive fire protection shortly, but first, a more
detailed look at how this differs from active fire protection.
The difference between passive and active fire protection
Passive fire protection is not the same as active fire protection. The latter is more familiar to
the everyday person, with fire extinguishers, blankets and break-glass call points all
requiring an individual to do something in order to protect against fire – an active element.
Passive fire protection, with the exception of perhaps fire doors, is unfamiliar since it is
largely unseen and is not something people have to interact with in order for it to work.
Let’s look at what those features of passive fire protection are next.
The key elements of passive fire protection
The following are just some of the key PFP elements and how they work:
Structural fire surveys – The whole structure of your building and how it is designed
is the starting point in passive fire protection in terms of construction. This includes
the materials that are due to be used, along with compartmentation in floorplans, to
create a structure that will slow down fires and allow enough time for safe
Fire stopping surveys – This is a professional survey to ensure compartmentation
isn’t breached by gaps, cracks, holes and voids. Any of these could allow smoke and
fire to spread, regardless of whether they were accidentally or intentionally created.
Fire barriers – These include a variety of fire-rated materials used to ensure
compartmentation is maintained within a building. Batts, boards, curtains and collars
are all gap-sealing materials used to block a developing fire, with varying levels of
efficacy depending on the composition of the material.
Fire doors – A more commonly recognised element, fire doors come with different
fire ratings based on how many minutes of resistance they provide when faced with a
fire. These doors remain shut – or have automatic closers – to contain a fire and
provide a safe route of evacuation in an emergency.
Intumescent paint – This paint is designed to coat important parts of a building’s
structure. Expanding when exposed to high temperatures, it can delay the warping
and bending of materials such as steel to allow for safe evacuation and the
attendance of fire and rescue services – potentially securing the building from
Structural steel fire protection – The aforementioned paint counts towards
structural steel fire protection, but this can also include cementitious/fibrous coatings
or fire encasement boarding to protect important structural steel from losing its
Is a fire risk assessment part of passive fire protection?
While a fire risk assessment is not a physical, dormant way of protecting against the flames
of a fire, it is a legal requirement for businesses and identifies key aspects of passive fire
protection within your building. This is why a professionally conducted fire risk assessment
forms a crucial part of your passive fire protection.
At FIS we can advise you for a full fire compartmentation survey to be carried out which will detail the fire lines of compartmentation throughout a building and outline any deficiencies.
Our most popular rire risk assessments (FRA’s) we carry out will be type 2 (non intrusive) and while some assessors will pick up on some elements of passive that they see it is not comprehensive.
At Fire Industry Specialists Ltd, we’re an IFC third-party certified company, providing passive
fire protection services – fire doors, fire stopping surveys and more – to businesses and
commercial operations nationwide, including Lincoln, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham
For expert services and advice to help you stay legally compliant in the construction or
maintenance of your premises, call our team today.