By Tony Jones, Regional Operations Manager with Wormald
Passive fire protection (PFP) uses a building’s structure to limit the spread of fire and is integral to protecting people and property. Although it is mandated by the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards, PFP can be easily and accidentally compromised by everyday changes within a building.
PFP is not a ‘set and forget’ fire safety strategy; ongoing management of PFP is essential to help maintain the integrity of fire compartments.
Identifying and documenting where fire compartments are located is essential. All penetrations and fire rated walls (and their fire resistance level) should be clearly identified in a building’s PFP register. This is known as baseline data. Australian Standard 1851-2012 Routine servicing of fire protection systems and equipment requires the upkeep of a PFP register as well as regular inspection of sealed penetrations to ensure their integrity is intact and identify any unprotected penetrations. This requires accurate records of fire-rated walls and penetrations.
If building managers are unsure which walls are fire-rated, they are encouraged to promptly seek accurate information and records. Fire-rated walls can be identified in the building plans or building approval documentation. If facility managers are unable to access this information, a fire protection specialist such as Wormald can identify fire-rated walls and assess the suitability of existing PFP measures.
It is advised that PFP measures are inspected annually, as per AS1851-2012, as this can help to manage any fire safety breaches that may result from everyday works within the building.
As part of maintaining PFP measures, building managers should establish a procedure for any works that may impact fire rated walls. This may include establishing guidelines for or imposing contractual obligations on tradespeople or building services that may penetrate fire-rated walls (for example, electrical contractors, plumbers or security camera installers).
Procedural guidelines may also stipulate the engagement of PFP specialists to fill in penetrations by using or applying the appropriate and accredited products once the work is complete. There are a number of products and materials that can be used, including fillers, fire pillows, and fire collars. These products vary in their fire resistance level and are very specific to their application. It is important to ensure all materials and methods of application are compliant with the Building Code of Australia.
For more information on Wormald’s comprehensive range of fire services, including engineering advice and inspection and testing services for passive and active fire protection solutions, visit www.wormald.com.au or call 133 166.