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Fire Compartmentalisation - Passive Fire Protection

Compartmentalisation is a frequently used term within the fire industry and is one of the core principles of Passive Fire Protection (PFP). An example of compartmentalisation would be the installation of (minimum) 30 minute fire rated barriers separating each distinct area throughout a property. The creation of layered pockets of fire resistance ensures a fire can be contained within a relatively small area, and therefore enables people to exit the building safely and minimises any damage to the property.

A common sign of compartmentalisation is a fire door. Fire doors should be rated to a minimum of 30 minutes fire resistance and are designed to completely seal off a doorway to prevent flames and smoke from passing through. Of course, fire doors must be accompanied by fire resistant walls and ceilings in order to prevent the spread of fire.

Care must therefore be taken to protect any penetrations made in walls, floors or ceilings as these can become conduits through which fire can spread. Intumescent products are designed to surround holes made in any fire resistant surfaces, and seal them in the event of a fire, maintaining compartmentalisation. Further information about intumescent material can be found in the Intumescent material section of this guide.

The provision of compartmentalisation is required by building regulations for both domestic and non-domestic properties.

Whilst it is vital to slow the passage of smoke and flames throughout any type of building, it is especially important in buildings providing care to anyone with limited mobility. In these types of premises, it is common to see a series of points marked as areas of refuge. These areas are designed to protect anyone unable to be safely evacuated in the early stages of a fire. These areas of refuge serve as a fine example of the importance of compartmentalisation, as they would not be possible without the consideration and application of passive fire protection during construction.


Reviewed: 01/10/2019 (doc:102 V1.1). Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. Please note that we provide abridged, easy-to-understand guidance. To make detailed decisions about your fire safety provisions, you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.


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