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Fire Protection Basics for Building Owners and Building Safety Managers

Are you a building owner? Are you the person responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a building? If so, here are the basics you need to know about fire safety requirements for buildings of any size. 

Fire compartmentation in buildings

To start with, your building should have a fire strategy and supporting drawings that will identify where the compartment lines are and what those lines are required to achieve if a fire were to develop in the building. The compartment is constructed and designed to protect both the building occupants and the building itself from the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases.

Bear in mind that the compartment walls and floors often end up having holes put in for necessary services such as cables, ducting and ventilation, or even doors.

Fire door surveys

The new building safety bill that was recently passed concentrated on the requirements for buildings to have compartmentation surveys and inspections primarily completed on fire doors. In a building, doors receive the most use in terms of traffic, and sometimes abuse, and therefore need to be maintained. If a fire door does not perform correctly, it leaves a big hole in the wall that allows smoke and fire to pass through and spread around your building. It is advised that doors are inspected from every month to once a year depending on the building type and occupancy.

Damper inspection and surveying

Aside from fire doors, your dampers also require regular inspections as per BS9999. Fire and smoke dampers are fire protection products used to prevent fire and smoke from spreading through ductwork from one conpartment to another. Dampers should be inspected and serviced at least every year to ensure they are installed correctly and work properly. There are some disturbing images on the internet of dampers that don’t work and the consequence when they don’t is devastating.

Passive fire protection

Along with dampers, another important fire safety requirement that often gets overlooked or forgotten is Passive Fire Protection (PFP). For those of you that are not sure, it’s the white batts with pipe, cables, or cable trays passing through it. Did you know that these items have a life expectancy and require some maintenance over their lifetime? If they are not installed correctly, or maintained, they can allow smoke or fire to pass from compartment to compartment and put lives at risk.

All of the above should be looked at during your annual Fire Risk Assessment (FRA). These will also be reviewed if your local fire authority pays a visit. If they don’t like what they see, they have the authority to issue an improvement or enforcement notice which could result in closure of your building. Imagine the loss in revenue, income or homes for people if this was to happen to your building.

With this knowledge in mind, you should now be looking for fire safety experts to do these various surveys and guide you through the other requirements you need to carry out as a building owner or safety manager.

Here at FCS, you can rely on us to complete a fire compartmentation survey on your building for all of the above, or just certain parts like fire doors or dampers. We will advise you on your building status, if it is safe, compliant and what your risk is, if any. We can also help you manage any remediation that may be required, ensure that any work completed is complianty, and assist with maintaining records. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.

This blog post is part of our “Director’s Dispatch” where our Technical Director shares information, tips, and advice pertaining to Fire Safety issues and best practices. Our Technical Director has had 20 years experience as a qualified plasterer and dryliner, with 10 of those years teaching in an Academy run by one of the UK’s largest manufacturers where he was also Technical and Training Manager. Over the years he has trained site managers working for Tier 1 contractors and house builders, and ran courses on installation of stud partitions, MF ceilings, plastering, jointing, and others. His training videos for the academy are still in use.