What is the difference between active and passive fire protection?

Active and passive fire protection systems work together to ensure that a building is optimally protected against the impact of a potential fire. A combination of both active and passive fire protection is required to create the right quality of protection and to ensure that the building’s overall safety level is the best that it can be. These two systems are not the same and it’s worth getting to know the differences between the two to make sure that you have all the bases covered.

Active fire protection

Elements of active fire protection require action in order to have an impact if there is a fire. A prime example is a sprinkler system, which needs to be activated either automatically or manually in order to have an effect. Just like passive fire protection, the more active methods are designed to either stop a fire or to slow it down, but unlike passive fire protection can also be used to extinguish the fire..

The objective is to give people in the building time to escape safely, as well as reducing the damaging impact that the fire has on the building before the emergency services are able to arrive and put it out. Other examples of active fire protection may include fire extinguishers, which are activated by manual use, as well as fire or smoke alarms that automatically sound to alert those in the building that there is a problem.

Passive fire protection

Passive fire protection does not require activation in the same way as active fire protection and is often integrated into the building itself. It usually involves the use of fire-resistance rated walls and floors and features that are designed to compartmentalise the building and to contain a fire in one place. Like active fire protection, the use of passive fire protection is intended to help preserve life and to reduce the spread of fire through a building before the emergency services arrive.

Some examples of passive fire protection may include dampers – which help to minimise the spread of fire and smoke through the duct system of a building -  and fire doors, which act to divide the building into fire proof compartments. Fire walls and floors are also essential to enable the building to be compartmentalised – as long as these are correctly installed and regularly checked they will stop the spread of fire by containing it in a smaller space than would be the case if there was no compartmentalisation.

It’s essential to ensure that your business has adequate active and passive fire protection measures in place. A strategic combination of the two that takes into account the design of the building and the needs of the people in it is an essential part of ensuring fire safety. Active and passive fire protection work together and will also provide backup if the other system fails, for example if sprinkler systems don’t come on as a result of frozen pipes in winter.

If you’d like to reassess and upgrade your passive and active fire protection we can help – contact us to discuss your requirements.

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About Us

Hillmoore Fire Protection Limited are specialist contractors for all forms of passive fire protection. The ethos and aim of Hillmoore is to provide our clients with an un-rivalled service for the Design, Supply and Installation of all passive fire protection requirements, be it within a new build, refurbishment or upgrading project, or as part of the change of use of a property.