Structural Fire Protection

Fire protection in building structures

Structural fire protection measures include integrating fire safety into the design of a building. When builders and designers work with fire safety in mind, they should use fire resistant materials to help prevent fires from starting or slowing down their progression when they do start. Structural fire protection includes fire curtains, doors, glass, and shutters, and these materials and fittings are regularly integrated into a building design.

Fire curtains provide functional fire protection in a minimally obtrusive form. They deploy quickly, and can also be installed almost invisibly, in areas where space is an issue but fire protection is a must. Today's technology allows for a fire curtain fabric to be developed to the point where it can offer up to two hours' fire protection in the right type of installation.

Smoke curtains are deployed to control the movement of smoke in a building during a fire. Toxic fumes from smoke are, to trapped victims, the deadliest product of building fires. Smoke also blinds evacuees' path to an escsape route. Smoke curtains are life saving in that they keep the non-burning parts of the building accessible and protect vital escape routes, but also allow more time before a burning building becomes toxic.

A fire door has a fire-resistance rating and is used to reduce the spread of fire or smoke between rooms and compartments and to enable safe evacuation from a building or structure. The door frame includes the fire or smoke seals, door hardware, and the structure that holds the fire door assembly in place. Together, these components form an assembly, typically called a "doorset" which holds a numerical rating, quantified in hours of resistance to a test fire.

Fire door holders enable fire doors to be legally held in an open position to give ease of access through a building. This enables disabled access through every entrance and exit to comply with disability and discrimination legislation. Fire door holders also exist to give good ventilation through a building whilst enabling the fire door to protect in the event of fire. Fire door holders come in two main designes - wired and wireless, and can be wall, floor or ceiling mounted.

Fire rated glass also called fire rated glazing, used for windows or glass panels within buildings, can withstand exposure to fire and heat. Fire resistant glass is supplied with varying levels of protection which are measured to defined time periods, normally 30, 60, 90 120 or 180 minutes.

Fire shutters are fitted to compartmentalise a building and therefore help prevent a fire from rapidly spreading. Fire shutters allow people to evacuate safely, also helping to make the work of the emergency services easier. A fire shutter only moves into its operational position in the event of a fire, and is normally wired into the building's fire detection system and close automatically on a signal from the fire alarm.