Passive Fire Protection – An Important Element of Fire Safety Strategy

Promat 01/10/2018

passive fire protection
fire protection
fire safety
structural fire protection
fire resistance
reaction to fire

Fire safety is an important factor for constructing a safe building. It includes the total amount of measures, which are planned and implemented in a building, and also those which are taught to occupants of the building. 

As per importance of fire safety most of the countries have developed elaborated legislation regarding fire-safe construction. It helps assure the entire fire strategy is considered when constructing a building and therefore protect people’s lives and help quantify losses in case of fire. Our mission at Promat is to know and understand specific rules in each country and develop fully tested passive fire protection solutions, according the regulations and real life scenarios. 

What is passive fire protection?

Fire protection is an important part of any fire safety strategy and includes active fire protection (suppression, detection) and passive fire protection (structural fire protection, compartmentation).

Passive fire protection (PFP) is based on structural fire protection and compartmentation and allows safe exit of occupants out of the building and entrance of fire brigade into the building.

Structural fire protection ensures the stability of structural elements (such as steel beams/columns or timber beams/columns) in a building in case of fire. This is reached by applying adequate products onto the structural element, such as boards, paints or sprays.

fire compartmentation
fire compartmentation

Compartmentation is a defined area in a building, which limits the spread of fire and smoke. The size and number of compartments are defined in all national building codes – dependent on the floor area or volume and the amount of fuel in each level. Building codes differ from one country to another. Compartments are always vertical (fire rated floors/ceilings) and horizontal (fire rated walls). As all kind of services are required in those boxes, openings are created, which have to be protected again. An obvious and always visible protection is a fire door. But also where all kind of services such as cables, pipes, ducts, etc. are running through, the tightness of the compartment has to be ensured again by installing adequate penetration seals.

Those penetration seals are mostly a combination of several products such as coatings, mortars, collars, wraps, sealants, backing material and here the key questions is how materials interact. At Promat, we test full wall and ceiling systems with all of the potential service penetrations in situ.

Fire Tests & REI

As all systems are fire tested the result is a certain fire resistance, which is shown in a fire rating value. All test standards, EN/ASTM/BS/, define clearly how the fire rating has to be indicated in reports.

For loadbearing elements additionally the applied load and/or load level shall be included. For penetration seals and joints additional elements are required such as pipe end configuration.

Most important are the definition of Stability, Integrity, Insulation and Loadbearing capacity. 
stability and integrity

Stability and Integrity (E)

stability and integrity

These are the times in completed minutes for which the test specimen continues to maintain its separating function during the test without Ignition of cotton pad, or passage of gap gauge, or sustained flaming.


Insulation (I)


This is the time in completed minutes for which the test specimen continues to maintain its separating function during the test without developing temperatures on its unexposed surface which, increase the average temperature above the initial average temperature by more than 140°C (not valid for penetration seals); or increase at any location above the initial average temperature by more than 180°C (valid for penetration seals).

load bearing capacity

Loadbearing capacity (R)

load bearing capacity

This is the ability of the element of construction to withstand fire exposure under specified mechanical actions, on one or more faces, for a period of time, without any loss of structural stability.

Fire ratings

So a fire rating of EI120 means that the system will keep the tightness of the compartmentation in case of fire for the passage of flames (E) for 120 minutes and for the passage of heat and flames (I) also for 120 minutes. A fire rating of E120 and EI90 would mean an integrity (E) - passage of flames - of 120 minutes and insulation (I) - passage of heat and flames - of 90 minutes.
reaction to fire

What is the difference between fire resistance and reaction to fire?

reaction to fire

Fire resistance is preventing the spread of fire from one compartment to another and is tested for every system.

Reaction to fire measures the material behaviour per product and how it contributes to the growth of a fire. This is important in a hotel building, where furniture, curtains, carpets, etc. should be non-combustible or low combustible. Passive fire protection materials do not have to be non-combustible, as their fire performance is proved in a fire test in the adequate system. At Promat, we also test our products for reaction to fire. 

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