Passive fire protection is the first line of defence in the preventing the spread of fire. As opposed to active fire suppression, such as fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems, passive fire protection doesn’t actively put the fire out.Its aim is to contain the fire and smoke within a compartment of the building, allowing the safe evacuation of the property, and preventing further damage to the structure. If the location of the fire prevents the evacuation of all areas, then passive fire systems provide protection to any trapped personnel allowing the fire brigade to attend the scene, and effect the safe removal of those trapped.
An important piece of fire protection advice to remember is that passive fire protection can, and does, save lives as well as property.

· Fire protection to the structural frame of the building
· Fire-resisting doors and fire door furniture
· Fire shutters
· Compartment walls and floors
· Fire-resisting walls and partitions
· Suspended ceilings
· Fire-resisting glazing
· Fire doors and hardware
· Industrial fire shutters and curtains
· Fire fighting shafts and stairwells
· Fire-resisting dampers (mechanical or intumescent) used in horizontal or Vertical air distribution ducts
· Fire-resisting ductwork
· Fire-resisting service ducts and shafts
· Linear gap seals
· Penetration seals for pipes, cables and other services
· Cavity barriers
· Fire-resisting air transfer grilles (mechanical or intumescent)
· The building envelope, e.g. fire-resisting external walls, curtain walls etc.
· Reaction to fire coatings
· Hydrocarbon structural fire protection systems
The fire resistance of a component, such as a steel column, is its ability to resist the effects of fire for a period of time and this is usually measured by submitting the component to a fire test as defined in a nationally or internationally recognised standard.
In extreme heat, any steel under load will buckle and warp, for example in a fire situation the stability of steel framed buildings may be affected. Intumescent paints protect the steel from the heat, by forming an insulating layer between the metal and the heat source. The paint also gives off a small amount of moisture, further cooling the steel.
Intumescent means “to expand”. In a building sense, an intumescent product is used to describe a passive fire product that expands when in contact in heat.
Intumescent products are based on three basic materials:
These are the active elements of intumescent products.
Clay was widely used in the early days of passive protection, but is now only used in specific areas. Clay based intumescents have tendency to become brittle with age, and are unsuitable for use in intumescent door strips, as the intumescent material could breakdown and fall out.
Graphite used in intumescents is similar to that used in pencils, and is the most commonly used form of intumescent.
The most important goal of PFP is identical to that of all fire protection: life safety. This is mainly accomplished by maintaining structural integrity for a time during the fire, and limiting the spread of fire and the effects thereof (e.g., heat and smoke). Property protection and continuity of operations are usually secondary objectives in codes.
Examples of testing that underlies certification listing:
· Europe: BS EN 1364
· Netherlands: NEN 6068
· Germany: DIN 4102
· United Kingdom: BS 476
· Canada: ULC-S101
· United States: ASTM E119
These specialist coatings work by way of forming a protective layer of insulation, which prevents the heat from a fire reaching the limiting temperatures of the buildings structural design and subsequent failure.
Intumescent paint and coatings have long been used to prevent the structural failure of buildings when exposed to fire. They are extremely effective when applied to steel frames, as they form a protective thermal insulation layer or char caused by the expansion from the fire’s heat.
There are two benefits to this: the first one is that the steel members remains at a temperature below that which could cause failure by collapse and allow the safe evacuation of the building. The second one is that intumescent coatings can be decorative and therefore act as an aesthetic product providing colour and appearance as well as a life safety system.
As the title suggests, these types of coatings do not react or expand when exposed to the effects of a fire. They’re usually lightweight and are an alternative to the reactive coatings. Examples of these types of coatings are fire resistant boards and cementitious or gypsum sprays.