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PFPF Campaign: The Importance of Passive Fire Protection Equipment

The Passive Fire Protection Federation (PFPF) is launching a new campaign this month designed to improve fire safety enforcement in relation to the installation of passive fire equipment. They believe there has been a lack of compliance and general respect for fire safety regulations over recent years and, as such, their new campaign aims to articulate the benefits of passive fire protection equipment and how important it is in order to achieve maximum fire safety measures within your property.

Here at Elite Fire, we specialise in all aspects of fire safety and provide a comprehensive range of safety equipment, including a selection of passive fire protection. So, in light of the new PFPF campaign, our experts have compiled a guide about the equipment itself, what it is and its importance in the workplace…

So what is passive fire protection?

According to the PFPF, passive fire protection is “the primary measure integrated within the constructional fabric of a building to provide inherent fire safety.” It works by “responding to flame, heat and smoke” and maintains the “fundamental requirements of building compartmentalisation, structural stability, fire separation and safe means of escape”.

In simple terms, passive fire protection is fire protection on a structural level designed to try and contain and stop the spread of fire, reduce the damage it can cause and aid efficient evacuation. It protects the building itself against the devastation of fire, minimising the danger of fire-induced collapse or structural distortion and limiting the movement of fire and smoke between different spaces.

Passive fire protection includes things such as fire-resistant walls, fire-resistant glass, fire safety doors, intumescent door seals and emergency lighting, and they are usually designed and built into a building by architects, builders and the owners or managers of the property.

However, this is where the Passive Fire Protection Federation believes the problem lies. They suggest that because architects, developers and construction experts are planning passive fire protection measures they are being viewed as a hindrance to their creativity and another restrictive regulation to adhere to rather than a vital and highly important part of the process.

Mike Wood, the Vice Chairman of PFPF, was quoted in fire safety magazine Means of Escape as saying that fire safety is “too often seen as a constraint in design, limiting flexibility, adding cost and preventing the full expression of other cherished design niceties”.  He believes that short cuts are being taken in relation to the installation of passive fire equipment in order to keep costs low and make designing the aesthetics of the building more adaptable.

The Problem…

Mike Wood, the Vice Chairman of PFPF, was quoted in fire safety magazine Means of Escape as saying that fire safety is “too often seen as a constraint in design, limiting flexibility, adding cost and preventing the full expression of other cherished design niceties”.  He believes that short cuts are being taken in relation to the installation of passive fire equipment in order to keep costs low and make designing the aesthetics of the building more adaptable.

Wood believes the problem arises since “the application of fire safety in practice is frequently dependent on those outside the fire safety sector” who “do not have sufficient grounding in fire safety technicalities”. Therefore, their primary focus is not on making the building as safe as possible but, instead, as visually pleasing and practically functional as possible, something which Wood, PFPF and the fire safety industry in general strongly recommend needs to change.

Another concern is that advanced methods of construction and innovative building materials pose new challenges for fire safety as they are often put into existing buildings without being properly evaluated for how they might affect fire resistance in that certain environment. Wood warns that “changes such as modular pod assembly and lighter and less robust constructions raise fundamental questions of basic resilience against fire.”

The PFPF Campaign…

The PFPF campaign aims to highlight the importance of passive fire protection and reiterate just how vital it is. Often a legal requirement, in accordance with British Standard BS 476, it is a regulation within all non-private buildings, including multi-occupancy residences, and should be installed professionally, maintained periodically and recorded in accurate detail as part of Risk Assessment procedures.

The PFPF are involved in developing several new initiatives aimed at bringing the importance of passive fire protection in to the minds of the wider community. One such plan is a national industry training scheme for passive fire protection which, according to Means of Escape, “aims to up-skill contractors involved in the installation of passive fire protection, as well as improve the knowledge base of those involved in the design, supply, inspection and maintenance of passive fire protection.”

Wood states that the PFPF intend to “do everything in its power to spread knowledge and develop understanding, in order to change attitudes and encourage more positive fire safety behaviour.”