Integrating Passive Fire Protection Into Your Commercial Building Design

Passive fire protection, or PFP, is as integral to keeping your building safe as a sprinkler system and alarms are. If you are planning to build a commercial structure for your building, you should partner with an expert in fire protection engineering to come up with a passive fire protection plan that ensures the safety of all people in your building. Here are a few elements you may want to consider as you lay out your fire safety plan.

Fire Dampers

Fire and smoke can travel quickly quickly through your building's HVAC ducts. To prevent this from happening and to try to keep the fire contained at its point of origin, consider adding fire dampers to your ductwork. The dampers are crafted from fire resistance-rated steel, and they look similar to window shutters. These shuttered sections close off to prevent the flow of smoke and flames through the building.

Fire Doors

Fire doors serve a similar purpose to fire dampers. They are designed to contain fire and smoke in the building to help prevent from consuming the entire structure. The doors can be made from a range of materials, from wood to steel, and they must meet certain construction requirements to qualify as fire doors. For a commercial building where employees are present, business owners must comply with OSHA guidelines. Exit openings in the building must be secured with a fire door that features a self-closing mechanism. This mechanism allows the door to close on its own after it is opened to prevent fire from spreading.

Intumescent Paints

Intumescent paints offer a unique type of fire protection. When they meet with flames from a fire, the paint begins to swell, offering insulated protection from fire. These paints are used on metal beams and substrate, helping to maintain the structural integrity of a building during a fire. Talk to your fire protection engineer about the different ways you can use these paints during the construction of your building.

Fire-Rated Windows

Fire-rated windows are crafted from fire-resistant glass and often feature wire mesh between the glass layers. This prevents the glass from exploding under the high temperatures of flames, thereby keeping fire contained and compartmentalized in the building. Fire-rated windows also prevent injuries for people exiting the building.

Your fire protection engineering specialist can walk you through these and other options for passive fire protection in your building. By constructing your building with these safety features, you can minimize the damage done in the event of a fire and keep your employees safe while on the job.