BRE Global discusses the importance of correct installation of passive fire protection
LPCB (part of BRE Global Ltd) offers third party approval schemes for installers to ensure that clients, constructors and manufacturers are all working to a common goal to provide good quality built-in passive fire protection.
Fire Compartmentation and Means of Escape
Buildings must have 'built-in' fire containment measures designed to limit the spread of fire and smoke. Fire resisting walls, floors, ceilings and doors are designed to create escape routes and fire compartments which delay the spread of fire.
Compartmentation is a key role for PFP. It divides a building into smaller discrete fire zones, which are designed to contain the fire to within the area in which it started. It is often regarded as one of the most effective means of limiting fire damage. Examples of two important types of passive fire protection systems are fire stopping and ductwork as discussed in the next two sections.
A critical weakness in the safety of any building can be when the fire compartment walls and floors are penetrated by building services such as pipes, cables and ductwork. As soon as these walls and floors are breached, the potential for the spread of fire and smoke through the openings is greatly increased.
Fire stopping is a method used to prevent this fire and smoke spread through openings in walls, floors and ceilings. When correctly installed fire stopping can help saves lives and limit collateral damage to the building structure.
There are many different products used in fire stopping applications including specially developed mortars, coated mineral wool slabs (called batts), and various composite products using intumescent products and sealants. Even if these products and systems have been tested to a recognised test standard, their fire performance can be severely compromised by poor installation or application, which could have severe consequences in the event of a fire.
Fire-resisting Ducts and Dampers
An important consideration when assessing the performance of a fire-resisting duct or damper is the design of the wall, partition or floor that the duct or damper is penetrating. A similar problem can occur with fire-resisting dampers. If a damper has only been tested in a masonry wall, for example, it may not be suitable for installation in a steel-framed partition.
An incorrectly installed damper within a steel-framed partition may result in the damper frame twisting and preventing the blades closing as required. This could have extremely dangerous consequences as fire and smoke could rapidly spread throughout the ducts. Dampers must therefore be installed with a fire-stopping system that has been shown by test to work successfully with the appropriate damper mounted in the relevant type of wall, partition or floor.
The parameters that govern the correct installation of fire-resisting duct and/or damper systems when passing through fire-resisting walls, partitions or floors are discussed in more detail in BRE Good Building Guide 81, installing fire-resisting ductwork and dampers, available from www.brebookshop.com.
Importance of Installation
A critical aspect of fire compartmentation and means of escape is the quality of the installation of built-in fire protection. The task of ensuring that a building has compartmentation correctly specified and installed is a major challenge. A main contractor will often use various sub-contractors to complete a project and these can include specialists in drylining, carpentry, heating and ventilation, plumbing and electrical contractors, many of whom will not have been trained in the importance of passive fire protection and in its correct installation. Even some fire protection contractors will be unaware of all the considerations necessary.
Therefore, there are a number of trades that have a responsibility for installing a range of passive fire protection products. A major issue raised by this, is that often many different products are in used; some of which may not have been independently fire tested and some may also be installed by inexperienced and untrained installers. In addition each trade is often unaware of the effect one system may have on another in fire conditions such as in the example of a fire damper mounted in a partition discussed earlier.
Norman Macdonald, Principal Consultant of the Fire Section for BRE Global Ltd says: 'In the absence of third-party product certification, there will be some doubt whether the product tested is the same as the product or system that is currently marketed.'
He added: 'A third party installer scheme will enhance confidence that the systems have been installed correctly.'
The LPCB Scheme, LPS 1531 - Requirements and tests for LPCB Approval and Listing of companies installing or applying passive fire protection products. Provides a passive installer scheme that has been developed to offer third party approval to companies involved in the installation or application of passive fire protection products. This scheme currently has over thirty companies listed in the LPCB Red Book (www.redbooklive.com) the benefits of third-party approval are detailed below.
LPCB and Third Party Approval of Installers
The use of a company approved to LPS 1531 will give confidence to specifiers, building control officers, fire authorities, insurers and clients that the passive fire protection has been installed correctly.
LPCB Scheme, LPS 1531 ensures that a company:
- Has sufficient training and expertise to install the product or system.
- Uses third party approved products (where available), which have been checked to ensure that they are fire tested and fit for purpose.
- Has up to 15% of its passive fire protection installations inspected by LPCB inspectors.
- Maintains and records in-process inspection checks prior to, during and after the product/system installation.
- Environmental checks are recorded as required by the passive fire protection product manufacturer.
- Checks that the design of the specified system will perform as required.
- Issues numbered LPCB Certificates of Conformity for each installation.
The LPCB carry out regular site inspections and installations are checked for standards of workmanship, application and installation of the product to the manufacturer's instructions including correct environmental conditions. All listed companies are required to label their work where possible, produce 'marked up drawings' as required and record quality inspection records for each installation.
LPCB operate other installer schemes as follows.
LPS 1500 - Requirements for the LPCB Approval and Listing of companies installing construction elements used to provide compartmentation in buildings
LPS 1197 - Requirements for the LPCB Approval and Listing of Companies undertaking the maintenance and repair of doorsets, shutters, and active smoke/fire barriers
LPS 1271 - Requirements for the LPCB Approval and Listing of companies installing fire and security doorsets and shutters, and smoke barriers
For a full up to date list of LPCB approved installers, products and services please visit www.redbooklive.com.
For further information on LPCB's third party approved passive fire protection installer schemes, please contact Ian Stewart at [email protected]
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LPCB (part of BRE Global Ltd) offers third party approval schemes for installers to ensure ...