When fire breaks out in high rise buildings, residents are advised not to leave the building immediately but to stay inside.
According to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) "Stay Put" policy:
"If there is a fire in your building but not inside your own home, then you are usually safer to stay in your flat unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you. If you ‘stay put’ you should still immediately call 999 for advice and to ensure that the fire and rescue service along with attending emergency crews have been notified."
The logic behind it is to allow easy access for the fire brigade to the entrance of the building and be able to carry the fire fighting equipment up the stairs so they can deal with the fire as soon as practically possible. As for the residents safety the only guarantee is that the building has a reliable passive fire protection installation built in which stops the fire from spreading and stays confined within the room where it has started.
However, there are some issues with this policy.. First, if the fire has started in any of the lower floors, the risk of spreading quickly and cutting off the escape exits for the residents above is only manageable if there is a reliable passive fire protection installation in place, meaning, toxic fumes and fire flames remain contained within the premises where the fire has started. An effective passive fire protection installation can stop the fire in some instances for up to four hours, giving enough time for the fire brigade to put it out and evacuate the building safely. And the second issue is that the residents are putting their lives in the hands of the fire brigade’s judgement to make the call to evacuate the building in a timely manner in case the passive fire installation fails and the fire starts spreading fast out of control. Tragically due to a human error of judgement the call to abandon the Stay Put policy and evacuate the building comes too little too late. What causes the Passive Fire Protection installation to fail in some cases is due to the use of wrong and untested firestop products.
Selecting the correct firestop products for newly built or existing buildings is vital for ensuring an effective passive fire protection installation. Getting it wrong can have devastating consequences and loss of life. Off the shelf "standard" products which offer "up to x hours" of fire resistance can not be applied as service penetrations can vary, therefore only fit for purpose firestop products must be used to ensure effective firestop application.
The responsibility of installing a fit for purpose passive fire protection application is not confined to specialist sub-contractors. All parties involved from the Main Contractors to Architects and building owners and managers must have confidence that their passive firestop installation is compliant.
Identifying the right Passive Fire Protection Products can depend on the construction of the wall or floor that the services are passing through, the size of the overall aperture and what services pass through the hole. If it is Copper/Steel/Metal composite pipes - or - Plastic pipes, Cables and Cable Trays or Ventilation Ductwork, it would matter what is the diameter and wall thickness of the services penetrations. What kind of insulation is being used? What are the minimum distances separate the services from the edge of the substrate and from each other?; How far are the service supports away from each face of the wall or floor? etc. There are a lot of variables to be considered before any application is put in place and even certified PFP installers would need to consult with the product manufacturer's guidelines.
But how can you be sure you are dealing with the a credible supplier?
Here are a few checkpoints to look for when choosing what passive fire protection products to install in your building.
What is the company experience
What their diagnoses and recommendations based on?
CE mark product range
European Technical Approvals ETA which independently verify all fire and other tested properties.
Certificate of constancy of performance - ensures the product you buy is the one tested
Declaration of performance DoP
UL-EU Certificate - Third party certification for the UK/Middle East markets
Rolling program of fire testing
Some of the best fire safety product development and testing facilities are based here in the UK which provides the perfect ground for global companies like Protecta® for example to develop and supply some of the most comprehensive Passive Fire Protection systems in the industry today. All their products are developed and manufactured in the UK by its parent company Polyseam Ltd. At their custom built fire research facility, a team of specialists put all products through the toughest tests to ensure the highest quality. The products are then further analysed through an on-going development and test programme in cooperation with major laboratories including UL, EXOVA, SP and BRE. Their comprehensive manufacturing experience, proficiency, research and development and test programmes are also supported by quality management systems ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
To help their customers be able to identify the right solution for their requirements they offer a diagnostic firestop toolkit which includes:
1. Installation instructions showing in detail tested solutions with fire rating, maximum dimensions and various service types and sizes.
2. PFP Handbook containing detail architectural drawings.
3. Mobile App - that can be used on site for identifying the correct firestop applications. To give you a piece of mind and confidence in your applications you can have instant access to the latest product data fire test results.
4. Installation guidance from CGIs/Videos on YouTube.
5. Customer success helpline - A dedicated team of technical managers to call when outside the scope of testing.
Protecta is a market leader in passive fire protection systems and offer an extensive range of linear gap and penetration seal products. Designed to provide systems that meet the harshest requirements of today’s building and construction projects and supported by our team of through training and expert technical advice. Intelligent chemistry protecting people and property.
You can Download the Protecta Mobile App for free and learn about the new developments in the fire stopping industry.