October is usually the month where fire safety gets a lot of attention – maybe it’s the thought of all those candles in jack ‘o lanterns.
Seriously, though, this issue is an important one due to the sheer number of fires and the resulting injuries and property loss. Here are some key statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) based on 2015 events:
- 501,500 Total Structure Fires
- 2,685 Civilian Deaths
- 13,000 Civilian Injuries
- $10.3 Billion in Property Damage
When it comes to fire protection systems in non-residential buildings, a lot of attention is paid to active systems such as fire and smoke sensing, alarms, and suppression equipment, such as sprinklers and chemical extinguishing systems. This attention is vital since these active systems are the backbone of fire protection.
However, it’s just as important to also incorporate passive fire protection (PFP), and specifically products like smoke barriers, fire-stop doors and expansion joint fire barriers. Why? Because the function of PFP, is to compartmentalize a building to slow the spread of heat, fire and smoke thus allowing adequate time for the safe evacuation of occupants. A secondary function is to limit damage and preserve the building if possible, but that is a distance second – the main goal is to get everyone out alive and unharmed.
A logical question one might ask is: Why worry about passive fire protection if active fire protection is in place? Another might be: Why worry about active if you have passive?
The simple – and legal – answer is: You need both.
AFP systems certainly serve a role in alerting occupants to fire, and in working to suppress or extinguish the fire. But, AFP systems can fail for any of a number of reasons.
Passive Fire Protection systems – including expansion joint fire barriers – play an equally important role in compartmentalizing flame, heat and smoke to allow building occupants time to evacuate.
Both AFP and PFP work to control fire … both work in concert to help save lives.
Download our Primer on Active vs Passive Fire Protection to learn more about your fire prevention options.