Over 70 percent of businesses involved in a major fire either do not reopen or subsequently fail within three years of the fire. It is crucial for businesses to have proper fire protection in place. Passive fire protection is an essential component of fire safety and structural fire protection for businesses. Along with active fire protection, these two systems work together to suppress and stop fires, allowing people to evacuate quickly, and minimizing damage to important equipment, machinery, and documents.
Active vs Passive Fire Protection
Passive fire protection breaks the building into “compartments” and prevents the spread of fire through the use of fire-resistance rated walls and floors. It utilizes fire doors to help further compartmentalize the structure and dampers to prevent the spread of fire and smoke throughout the ducts of the building. Another common protection element in buildings with multiple floors is photoluminescent path markers. These markers aid in the evacuation process by lighting the way through dark or smoky stairwells.
Active fire protection, on the other hand, focuses on some sort of action to stop a fire. Some of these systems are automatic, such as a sprinkler system, and others may be manual, like a fire extinguisher. Fire alarms, smoke detectors, and even firefighters are all considered active fire protection systems. In general, there are a few different categories of active protection:
- Detection - primarily takes place using sensors that detect heat, smoke, or flame and send a signal to alarms throughout the building.
- Suppression - anything that can put out a fire through direct action either manually, such as fire extinguishers, or automatically with indirect or direct release systems.
- Ventilation - keeping evacuation routes smoke free with fire-resistant fans.
Which is Better?
One system is not better than another. Both active and passive fire protection play a key role in protecting buildings, equipment, and people. Passive fire protection is about containing the fire while active fire protection is about stopping the fire. While the systems work independently, but both systems need to be functioning properly to suppress and stop a fire.
Learn how an active fire suppression system can augment your building’s passive fire protection.