What Is Compartmentation?
Fire safety isn’t limited to just extinguishers and alarms. Sometimes it’s the less obvious
aspects of a building itself – such as the structure and layout – that can play a part in keeping
people safe should the worst happen.
The construction of any building can be used as an effective element in a passive fire
protection strategy. This article will guide you through exactly what compartmentation is
when related to fire safety and construction, as well as how it works and the regulations
surrounding the practice.
What is compartmentation in fire safety?
In the simplest of terms, compartmentation is when a large building is divided up into
different ‘compartments’ in order to better manage the risk within. These compartments are
then fitted with fire-resistant materials, including the use of cavity barriers and fire doors, so
that the space can be isolated in the event of a fire.
Compartmentation can be applied to both residential and non-residential properties, helping
to save lives.
How does compartmentation help to save lives?
The primary aim of compartmentation within a building is to try and isolate a fire in one
specific part of the structure. In preventing the spread of flames and smoke throughout all
areas of the building, there should then be time for anyone inside to safely exit without harm.
Without this measure in place, any fire and smoke would be able to quickly travel throughout
a building, not only putting people in immediate danger but also cutting them off from
Containing a fire also means there is a greater window of time for the fire services to arrive
and tackle the flames before they spread and decimate a structure. This can be a crucial
device if there are hazardous substances or materials within a building that could make the
situation worse. Likewise, if you have valuable infrastructure and assets, such as a server
room, that you need to keep fire away from, compartmentation is a great way of achieving
this as you can protect the space for longer.
What are the fire compartmentation regulations?
To find out what the regulations are surrounding fire compartmentation in building design, we
have to look at Approved Document B. There are a variety of details that pertain to fire
safety in and around buildings within, but here are some of the key points that need to be
considered for compartmentation:
● Minimum periods of fire resistance – this can apply to a variety of elements within the
structure, including walls and floors, with the presence (or lack) of a sprinkler system
having an impact on the minimum resistance levels required.
● Building heights – if your building is over 30m in height, then there needs to be a
compliant compartmentation floor in between every storey of the building.
● Common walls – if a wall is common to two or more other buildings, then it should be
built as a compartmentation wall.
● Permitted openings – where adjoined buildings share a compartment wall, it should
only be disrupted by fire doors or pipework that has been fire-stopped by a
● Beams and joists – where any compartment is connected via a beam or joist, this also
needs to be fire-stopped to ensure flames and smoke cannot spread through
● Cavity barriers and fire-resistant ceilings – where either of these components are
installed in a building, they should be able to withstand fire for 30 minutes at a
Here at Fire Industry Specialists Ltd, we provide a range of services to help you achieve and
maintain compartmentation, including fire stopping, fire doors and fire barriers. Our fully
qualified team of engineers and consultants operates nationwide – including Lincoln,
Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield – to help you ensure your building is
safe for business and compliant with regulations.
Call and book an appointment to discuss compartmentation and fire stopping in your building
today — we’re always happy to assist and advise, providing quotations for work where