Why passive fire protection solutions play a vital role in high-rise buildings

When fire breaks out in a high-rise, the immediate challenge for firefighters is how to overcome the fact that an average fire hose won’t spray any further than 50ft and as such, the fire can therefore only be fought from an adjoining structure, or from the inside.

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t is easy to see why firestops are critical to prevent the passage of flames, smoke and noxious gases from one floor to the next. Chris Hall, Commercial Development Officer of SIDERISE, feels that passive fire protection solutions play a vital role in high-rise buildings mitigating the effects of fire, saving lives and property.

Fires in high-rise buildings generate large quantities of smoke that tend to spread vertically throughout the building, even if the fire is contained to only one room. When the linear gap at the perimeter edge between the floor and curtain wall is not properly sealed, flames and smoke will spread vertically to higher floors. Addressing these linear gaps by properly installing firestops maintains the floor’s fire compartmentation of the building. This delays vertical smoke spread and reduces the risk of smoke-related deaths in the upper floors of the building.

Tried and tested solution

The perimeter barrier firestops seal the linear gap between the edge of the compartment floor slab and external curtain wall. Due to project designs and site tolerances, this linear gap can be variable, so the firestop system used needs to have a degree of ‘dynamic’ movement capability – compression and recovery – in order to accommodate serviceability movement. What is critical is the firestop system must do this in combination with the primary functional requirement, which is to maintain continuity of fire resistance between the compartment floor and the external wall. The installed firestop system needs to match the same period of fire resistance as the compartment floor.

All firestop systems need to be tested to two criteria – Integrity and Insulation (EI). Integrity (E) refers to the ability of the system to prevent the passage of flame, smoke and combustible gases either through or around the material, or through joints in an assembly; while Insulation (I) refers to a measure of the increase in conducted heat transferred from the exposed to unexposed surfaces of 180°C rise above ambient.

These two criteria are critical in the development of curtain wall perimeter firestop products. The most effective products combine a number of material features – density, thickness, resin content, fibre structure and controlled compression – which together determine the resistance properties.

When looking at the Integrity (E) criteria, the material chosen must be impervious to the transfer of flame and gases; easy to install with minimal site management and accommodate all real-world requirements at interfaces, joints and details. In order to meet the fire and smoke-stop requirements in all external facade applications, the Certifire-approved SIDERISE CW-FS perimeter barrier and firestop systems offer an unrivalled combination of fully-qualified performance, practical installation and service benefits.

The principal function of the SIDERISE CW system is to maintain continuity of fire resistance by sealing the linear gap between the compartment floors or walls and external curtain walls both horizontally and vertically.

SIDERISE perimeter barriers and firestops for curtain walling use a patented method of manufacture that provides a resilient lateral compression. This facilitates installation, ensures the requisite tight fit and enhances fire Integrity (E). Throughout the range, the materials comprise a one-piece product with a pre-compressed non-combustible stonewool core. The products also have integral aluminium foil facings to provide an overall Class A1 rating and excellent resistance to the passage of smoke. SIDERISE CW-FS perimeter barrier and firestop systems also offer an unrivalled combination of independent third-party Certifire-approved performance data for both horizontal and vertical applications, Certifire certificate No CF563 refers.

The systems can offer tested fire rating options ranging from 30 minutes to five hours and can accommodate void widths up to 1200mm. In addition to providing an effective seal against the passage of smoke and fire, the products will also function as an effective acoustic barrier and plenum lining.

Whilst specifying the correct product is vital, the quality of installation is equally as important. Contractors installing life-saving measures such as perimeter barriers and firestops must have adequate training on the particular manufacturer’s products and be qualified to install it in the first place. When it comes to saving lives and protecting businesses and property, a well-designed and installed system can make the difference.

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