Important Aspects of Passive Fire Protection

New passive fire protection products become available all the time, so users must keep up with the latest developments to see how they may be able to include them in their work. When selecting a passive Fire Protection system, in all cases, the manufacturer’s specifications must be followed.

However, when discussing your situation, some simple questions are going to be raised by the manufacturer. Without answering these questions, you might not have a satisfactory answer or sometimes not have an answer at all.

The important aspects of passive fire protection, which you should inform the manufacturer for selection of the system are FRR, substrate, penetrating element, and insulation.

The Fire Resistance Rating (FRR) is the fundamental parameter for passive fire requirement, and that indicates the time you expect that system to work. Different approaches can achieve different ratings, and usually, manufacturers have a whole range of options to offer. Informing the required FRR will help to narrow it down to relevant systems.

The substrate is the construction element that forms the boundary of the fire cell (i.e. walls, floor, ceiling). The substrate is the element where the FRR is expected to be achieved. When there is a penetration through the substrate, a breach happens on its protection. When installing a passive fire protection system, it is the goal to reinstate this protection.

When providing the substrate information, you shall provide the orientation, material, and dimensions of the substrate. Only referring to it as “120mm concrete slab floor” or “2x13mm Plasterboard wall” already indicates the orientation (horizontal for floor and vertical for walls), the material (concrete or Plasterboard), and the dimension (120mm or 2x13mm).

The dimension is important because the thickness of the substrate may affect the FRR.

The Penetrating Element is the construction element that penetrates the substrate. It is most common for it to be services such as electrical, hydraulic, or mechanic, but sometimes it is also structural or supporting elements.

When providing the penetrating element information, you shall provide the type, material, and dimensions of the element. Examples of penetrating elements are “Ø100mm PVC pipe”, “2xTPS cables”, and “Ø16mm Copper pipe”.

The dimension and material of the element are essential because it may affect the FRR. It is necessary to be very specific on the material as different materials may have different results in a test. Only referring to it as “plastic pipe”, “metal pipe” or “cables” is not enough for a proper selection of a system.

Insulation is the insulating material that covers the penetrating element. The use of insulation materials is not present for all penetrations, but it has a significant influence on the FRR.

When providing the insulation information, you shall provide the type, material, and dimensions. Examples of penetrating insulated elements are “Ø16mm copper pipe with 25mm thick Armaflex insulation”, and “Ø160mm steel pipe with 40mm thick Mineral wool insulation”.

These aspects are essential on the selection of the system and during the installation. The installer should always be attentive to the specific application as these are also the parameters defined as limitation of a system. The manufacturer may also indicate, based on the information provided, that the system does not achieve the requirements and propose some variations on the installation to make the system compliant.

From a substrate perspective, substrate type and fixing methods shall be observed. For a wall lining, for example, additional patches of the lining may need to be applied. Patching should make up the thickness of the wall to that specified by the manufacturer.

Note: The patch, when required, should be securely fixed to the wall and preferably to framing members.

From a penetrating element, oversized or multiple components in the same penetration will make this system much harder to be fire rated. The manufacturer may suggest for a pipe to be resized, material to be replaced, elements to be separated into different penetrations and cable bundles to be split in smaller sizes.

The insulation requirement in a project is often harder to be achieved. The manufacturer may also suggest insulation material to be added into a bare pipe to achieve the required FRR.

In general, it is expected that the person specifying or installing a passive fire system will have a good knowledge of the project and will be capable of providing this information. Having it during the specification stage can avoid non-compliant installations, resubmission of systems, and possible delays in the project.

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