The LWF Blog

Passive Fire Protection for Building Professionals – Part 18

May 21, 2020 9:06 am

In LWFs 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 17, LWF discussed the natural path of a fire once it is ignited, how it travels and how it can be addressed in terms of fire protection and construction. In part 18, we will continue looking at the construction of fire-rated ceilings to avoid the spread of fire in a building.

Most fire-rated ceilings are constructed from a system of framed tiles, which means it is a system with a number of components and it should be fitted as a system of parts capable of working together.

The components of a fire-rated ceiling include the points of attachment between the ceiling and floor plate above the framing system in which the fire-rated ceiling is suspended, and the ceiling tiles themselves. Each component should have been subjected to testing as a fitted ceiling. It would be inappropriate to use materials for a ceiling which had only been rated for use as a wall, as such materials and methods of installation are rarely transferable.

When considering the installation of a framed tile fire-rated ceiling, it is necessary to prevent the tiles from moving in the event of overpressure from a fire. One solution is to require the tiles to be clipped to the framing system by substantial metal clips, most commonly these are steel extrusions and steel clips. The framing system for a fire-rated ceiling is also generally constructed from steel, as most other materials conduct heat to such an extent that it would degrade the ceiling’s performance or potentially melt at a lower temperature than is required for fire protection purposes.

Effective maintenance is essential for a fire-rated ceiling. It is common for tiles to be broken or removed/unclipped when light fittings are replaced or maintained. Any alteration or incident which affects the integrity of the fire-rated ceiling causes the protection afforded to be compromised, which could cause the fire to spread quickly to other floors of the building and endanger any building occupants and the premises themselves. It should also be noted that no other tiles should be substituted for the originally approved and fire-rated design, as this too would negate the fire protection provided.

In part 19 of this series, LWF will discuss an important area in the provision of passive fire protection to a building – ducting. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

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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