The LWF Blog

Passive fire protection for Building Professionals – Introduction – Part 1

January 24, 2020 3:18 pm

In LWF’s blog series on passive fire protection for building professionals and contractors and those with an interest in structural fire protection issues, we aim to give an overview of the important role passive protection plays in the overall fire safety provision of a building. In part 1, our introduction will outline the basics of passive fire protection and how it differs from active fire protection.

The main aim of passive fire protection measures is to prevent fire spread from one area of a building to another, or from one building to another. Passive fire protection is built into the fabric of a building. Some passive fire protection products may be used to seal a gap or aperture to prevent the spread of fire, others may be heat-reactive and are designed to combust to ensure that an intumescent material swells and fills a hole.

In this blog series we will examine a number of different types of passive fire protection measures that contractors, architects, surveyors and specifiers should recognise. These will include fire doors, wall and ceiling linings, ducting, glass and glazing, intumescent products, the importance of third-party contractors and relevance of the specialist knowledge required in relation to assessing and utilising the products appropriately.

Fire protection methods in a building can be split into two disciplines; active fire protection and passive fire protection. Passive fire protection is that which is built into the fabric of the building and, most commonly, doesn’t change if a fire starts – however, there are exceptions to the rule as mentioned above. Active fire protection measures are those which react once a fire has started and might include sprinkler systems, fire and smoke alarms etc.

One of the most commonly recognised forms of passive fire protection is that provided by fire-resistant doors, walls, ceilings and floors.

When a fire engineering consultancy is engaged to work on a new passive fire protection project, they should task themselves with understanding the fire strategy in a building in order to make recommendations of what passive fire protection measures should be taken. A detailed survey must be undertaken of the building layout, contents and occupancy. The resulting information / findings should be laid out in order to provide the basis of the proposed fire safety solution. The resulting plan will ensure that the passive fire protection is located to enable the building to withstand the effects of fire and facilitate escape. Of course, ideally such surveys and plans must be completed before construction begins to as to avoid unnecessary works and to ensure that adequate fire protection is provided at all stages.

LWF has seen many instances where the project was not managed efficiently and the failure to employ a fire engineering consultant at an early stage has led to unnecessary products being fitted in inappropriate locations where no benefit can be achieved, resulting in thousands of pounds of financial loss for the project overall.

In part 2 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the benefits of the initial survey and consider the different types of passive fire protection available. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact this office on free phone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest are fire engineering and fire risk management consultants who have over 30 years’ experience in providing fire safety advice to Architects, Developers, Contractors and End User Clients.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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