What is the difference between active and passive fire protection?

Protecting your property against fire is incredibly important for ensuring the safety of the occupants. Whether you’re a landlord, property manager, or business owner, you should always provide fire protection, both passive and active. So, what are active and passive fire protection measures? Read this helpful guide from NW Fire Solutions to find out the difference.

What is active fire protection?

Active fire protection is a group of systems that require some action or motion in order to work in the event of a fire. These actions can be done manually, such as operating a fire extinguisher, and can be automatic, like a sprinkler system.

Active fire protection systems include things like fire and smoke alarms, sprinklers, fire extinguishers and even firefighters arriving on the scene to tackle the flames.

Each aspect of an active fire protection system does different things and produces different results. Fire and smoke alarm systems are used to detect fire and smoke within a building. Sprinklers are used to slow the growth of the fire, while fire extinguishers are used to tackle and put out flames.

What is passive fire protection?

Passive fire protection is a group of systems within a building that, through the use of fire-resistant materials in walls, floors and doors, help to protect against fire. Gap-filling measures are also undertaken as part of passive fire protection in buildings.

Compartmentalising buildings into smaller sections also helps to slow down and prevent the spread of fire and smoke from one room to the next. Passive fire protection therefore helps to limit the amount of damage done to buildings and also creates more time for any occupants to escape safely.

Common passive fire protection includes fire and smoke dampers, fire doors and firewalls and floors. Dampers are used to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through ductwork, while fire doors help to compartmentalise a building. Fire stopping helps separate the building to increase the prevention of fire spread.

Difference between active and passive fire protection

So, active and passive fire protection measures are both used to protect a building and its occupants from fire. But, what are the main differences between the two?

The main difference between active and passive fire protection is that active detects fire and tackles it, while passive uses certain measures to slow down the spread of fire throughout the building.

When assessing both types of fire protection, it’s important to know that using both together is the best way to protect a building and its occupants from a fire. Not only is it responsible to ensure the building is protected as best it can be, but the passive fire protection system can kick into action if the active system fails.

For example, through poor maintenance, the sprinkler system could fail. Frozen pipes could result in a lack of water supply and adequate water pressure. If the sprinkler system fails to protect against fire, the passive system’s fire doors and walls will, in most cases, give occupants enough time to escape.

In the same way, if the passive fire protection system fails, the active system is there to detect and slow the spread of fire. One major issue with passive fire protection is building quality can, occasionally, be sub-standard. For example, the quality of construction could be poor, while inappropriate materials may have been used. This can lead to a failure in the passive protection system.

Both active and passive fire protection measures are put in place within buildings to save lives. Active systems must be maintained properly, while passive fire protection systems should be checked to ensure the correct materials are in place so they can work effectively when called into action.

Fire protection at NW Fire Solutions

One way to adequately ensure your building’s fire safety protection is up to scratch is with a commercial fire risk assessment. You can hire NW Fire Solutions to make sure your building is safe in the event of a fire, and a fire risk assessment will help to spot any safety issues you may have.

If you require a fire strategy to be put in place on your premises, we can also help you with that. Active and passive fire protection systems are just two ways you can protect your building and its occupants from fire. But there is more you can do. To find out more, contact NW Fire Solutions on 0151 665 0124 or info@nwfiresolutions.co.uk.