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Passive fire safety

James Reid, our passive fire safety expert at Gunfire Limited, outlines his top tips when specifying a fire stopping system.

Passive fire safety all too often hits the headlines when things go wrong.

The risks to people and buildings are clear, but with safety measures stretching across disciplines as diverse as mechanical, electrical, plumbing and glazing; it’s understandable that major contractors and building operators find it difficult to keep track.

 

Tip#1 Don’t expose yourself to risk

 

With a range of disciplines affected, passive fire safety is habitually dealt with piecemeal by each contractor having a share of responsibility, and no one person or company having oversight of the protection. This leads to faults within the fire stopping system that expose building owners, operators and residents to increased risk. Using certified companies that can take a building wide approach will significantly reduce the liability of contractors and building operators.

 

Tip#2 Plan ahead

 

Passive fire safety can sometimes be treated as an afterthought during construction, resulting in costly retrofit projects. Ensuring a fire protection contractor is on site as early as possible means the building adheres to a fire safety strategy and could minimise the number of penetrations in need of fire stopping, which will in turn reduce costs. By taking a forward thinking approach contractors and facilities management companies can save money and ensure effective cover.

 

Tip#3 Check accreditations

 

Fire stopping is a specialist trade where lives are at risk when things go wrong. In the same way that you wouldn’t select a structural engineering firm without proof that it could do the job at hand, or appoint a window cleaner to install glazing, you shouldn’t place fire safety responsibility with a company without the relevant credentials. Two of the top accreditations to look out for are from The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) and FIRAS. At Gunfire, we ensure all our operatives have these accreditations, which enables us to be flexible to the specification and the work carried out adheres to the relevant standards.

 

Tip#4 Ensure products are up to spec

 

All too often when non-specialists are asked to approach passive fire safety, products are purchased due to cost and not to suit the application and have limited effectiveness. In some cases, where multiple contractors are involved, there are a mixture of products selected that are good in their own right but together, don’t work as a fire stopping system, rendering their effectiveness as limited at best. This may then require a full retrofit to ensure complete cover.

 

Tip#5 Quality checking and sign off

 

Up until recently, fire safety audits used paper-based systems, which were cumbersome and subject to variation. Latest technology developments have allowed us  to streamline this process and enable real-time checking of the fire safety system, with images and product details geo-tagged to the specific part of the building. This allows the information to be available and accessible, not just for the quantity surveyor at sign off, but also the facilities managers across the full lifespan of the building. Upon completion, clients are provided with access to a detailed database which plots relevant fire safety installations against a floor plan of the building, including images and costs. This marks a revolution in the way that fire safety installations can be monitored and recorded.

For more information about passive fire protection, James can be contacted on 01480 566440 (ext 308) or via email: james.reid@gunfire.org.uk

 

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Accreditations 2018