Jan 2021
How to Balance Active and Passive Fire Protection for Safety

Fire protection can be easily defined as the capability of the building or the infrastructure to detect, withstand, prevent as well as reduce any kind of damage caused by sudden, unexpected fire, caused either by natural phenomena or man-made interventions. Several case studies have made the importance of adequate fire protection in each building extremely clear and apparent. The appropriate knowledge about the various protection measures is scarce and most people know only smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, whereas there are so many other components and elements that make for a wholesome protection unit. Here we focus on looking at the correct fire protection services and how to strike the perfect balance between both active and passive fire protection methods.

Passive Fire Protection

Passive fire protection measures are often overlooked but are fundamental to the fire protection process. The core of PFP lies in the creation of a barrier to compartmentalize the fire and smoke, providing buffer time to enable the escape of any individuals in the building, keeping the infrastructure’s essential assets safeguard from the hazardous fire. Passive fire protection measures, also known as PFP, are materials that are always present and available in the building located evenly in each action of the edifice. Such installations do not rely on the operation of any mechanical device to get activated or triggered in case of an emergency.

A Few Examples

Usually maintenance-free, PFP has been adopted by almost every builder and civil engineer for effective construction. Some of the most recommended passive fire protection steps that are encouraged in a building, be it domestic, commercial, or for any other use are as follows. Fire doors, insulation, secondary containment structures (bund), and cavity barriers are required for improved efficacy to combat the fire.

Active Fire Protection

These are a group of measures and systems that require some amount of action or motion to work effectively in the emergence of a fire hazard. These actions are privy to being known to most individuals and are the ones that step into the picture for complete control over the fire. A few years ago these were the conventional and only measures taken by the architect in lieu of fire safety in the construction industry. The action of active fire protection measures alone does not suffice to protect the lives of people and the structural integrity of a building.

A Few Examples

Fire suppression systems can be considered as the prime example of AFP, some of which include carbon dioxide systems, clean agent systems, and industrial dry chemical agents. Other commonly known components of active fire protection are fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and sprinkler systems.

Striking the Perfect Balance

As and when the engineer is designing an efficient fire protection system they need to ensure that there is an appropriate implementation of both active and passive measures. Try scenario-based fire modeling to come up with the most worthy combination of both methods. The passive method prevents escalation, while the active measure is necessary to manage and mitigate the fires. Opt for a prescriptive or performance-based fire safety design for the infrastructure. The former ensures that you follow specific industry guidelines, codes, and government regulations while the latter flexibility in the implementation to meet the goal of fire safety.

Wrapping Up

Conduct a thorough fire hazard analysis with the help of experts and renowned professionals to quantify and understand the essentials for risk reduction in the specific area. These will help gauge the adequate amount of passive fire protection services required while construction and an extensive list of other appropriate mitigation options for maximum safety.

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