Understanding Passive Fire Protection - Promat UK Ltd


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Understanding passive Fire Protection objective 

The objective of this CPD is to provide specifiers with an improved understanding of passive Fire Protection solutions associated issues and current fire regulations. Agenda we will be looking at these topics what happens in a fire UK legislation and regulations fire the statistics passive Fire Protection environmental impact summary and finally about Promat.


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Active versus passive protection.

This CPD will focus on passive Fire Protection solutions however it is important to note the role that active Fire Protection solutions such as sprinklers have to play in the Fire Protection program of a building. Where possible we recommend a holistic approach incorporating both active and passive measures. However we recognise that this is not always practical or economically viable.


What is passive Fire Protection?

Fire Protection systems that do not require power or water to operate and that you cannot turn off. Fire Protection that creates barriers to prevent the spread of smoke and fire. This would include fire rated partitions floor structural steel protection fire doors fire and smoke rated ductwork and penetration seals. Passive Fire Protection remains passive until called upon to provide the desired period of Fire Protection. The opposite would be active Fire Protection systems like sprinklers fire alarms and gas activated fire suppression systems. Four stages of fire. This chart shows the process of a fire and the testing requirements for both materials and products during a fire. Fuel oxygen and heat are all required at the initiation stage that is also known as the fire triangle.


Flashover is achieved when flammable smoke and gases ignite. Growth steady state and decay are related to tests on complete constructions and not just the materials performance. Material performance to BS 476 part 20 fire curve. BS 476 part 20 will actually reach a maximum temperature in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius. The chart provides an insight into the performance of various materials from polythene to steel. Notice the ignition temperature of cellulose at approximately 250 degrees Celsius, and the temperature of 550 degrees Celsius when structural steel loses approximately 50% of its ambient strength.


What happens in a fire the majority of deaths are caused by smoke inhalation? How long would it take to fill a room of 3 metres by 3 metres size with smoke filling from a pencil sized hole? It could take as soon as three minutes and 40 seconds to fill with smoke. Smoke is capable of travelling up to 3 metres per second. CDM regulations 2007. The CDM 2007 regulations applied to most common building civil engineering and engineering construction work and are enforced by the health and safety executive. The regulation state that designers are required to avoid foreseeable risks as far as is reasonably practicable. Taking due account of other relevant design considerations. The greater the risk the greater the weight that must be given to eliminating or reducing it. The aim of the CDM regulations is to make health and safety an essential and integral part of the planning and management of projects. And to make sure that everyone works together to reduce the risk to the health and safety of those who work on the structure, who may be affected by these works or who will use it as a place of work once it's completed.


Regulatory reform fire safety order. The regulatory reform fire safety order came into force in October 2006 and is designed to unify many previous forms of legislation. The RR FSO is based on a risk management approach and dispenses with fire certification. The onus is now on the responsible person to ensure adequate fire safety measures are in place. The regulatory reform fire safety order has been enforced for over 5 years now, however the common view is that as many as 1 in 4 businesses are not even aware of their responsibility under the order. Even amongst those that are aware it's difficult to say how many are taking their responsibilities seriously or using a self-assessment approach to neglect fire safety measures.


Approved document B building regulations for safety are covered in approved document B ADB which provides guidance for some of the more common building situations. If this guidance is followed the resulting design could be considered as meeting the fire safety requirements of the building regulations. The document is based on relatively prescriptive guidance which states how the building should be constructed to meet the requirements. Approved document B England and Wales European draft supplement came into force in March 2003. Scottish technical standard sections D&E and Northern Ireland technical booklet E BS476 specific to fire with various sub sections including part 4 non combustibility, part 21 fire resistance of load bearing elements, part 22 fire resistance of non-load bearing elements and part 24 for fire rated ventilated ductwork systems.


Fire the statistics. Fire and Rescue services attended 499 thousand incidents in 2010 to 2011, of which 227 thousand were actual fires. There were a total of 36,000 property fires and 321 deaths in this period, with an additional 7400 non-fatal injuries. The last data available shows that the cost of insured property losses was over £1.3 billion. During 2008 a trend which has continued into 2009 and 2010. The ASFB calculated that 44% of people killed in fires are outside the room where the blaze started, therefore 144 deaths last year might have been avoided if the fire had been contained using appropriate past Fire Protection measures.


Typical penalties

Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of larger fines and even imprisonment as a result of breaches of the RRO. These have been handed down to companies such as the Cooperative group £210,000, Tesco £119,000, shell international £300,000 and clothes store new look £400,000. If these larger corporations are failing to comply with the order, it begs a question about what the level of awareness and compliance among smaller and medium sized businesses is. Fire safety lawyers have also recently warned that penalties under the RRO could reach as high as 100 million pounds in serious cases.


Passive Fire Protection there is no such thing as a 30 minute Fire Protection board. All systems need to be independently fire tested depending on system design requirements. These can include testing for load bearing capacity, R. Integrity, E and insulation, I. Promat also recommend third party accreditation for passive Fire Protection systems to ensure structures are robust to perform under pressure from a fire. Promat subscribes to the certifier and LPCB third party accreditation schemes.


Passive Fire Protection like any system the compartmentation of a building is only as strong as its weakest link. Promat recommends a holistic approach to passive Fire Protection to ensure robust compartmentation is achieved. Promat are the only UK supplier able to offer systems and provide technical guidance for all aspects of the building envelope. We will look at each of these categories. Fire resistant glazing ceilings floors and roofs partitions and external walls penetration seals fire stopping ductwork and enclosures soffit lining and structural steel.


Fire resistant glass the pictures show Promat system glass glazing system installed at Cisco Systems in Galway. Installation in stairway areas corridors and glazed screens including doors are all common applications for Promat system glass. Promat system glass is a fully patented butt jointed insulated I Fire Protection glazing system. Promat system glass can provide up to 120 minutes full insulation single glazed barrier. The system is free standing and can be silicon jointed or incorporated into metal supports structures. Door systems can also be included for 30 minutes fire insulation I and 60 minutes fire integrity E.


Fire rated suspended ceilings and timber floor protection.

The main drawing shows typical protection to a timber floor built from below. 120 minutes Fire Protection can be achieved using Promat supalux. 120 minutes Fire Protection can also be achieved for the protection of mezzanine floors with steel joist instead of timber. Existing laugh and plaster ceilings can be upgraded to achieve up to 120 minutes Fire Protection. These systems are quick and easy to install and only require a single layer to achieve up to 90 minutes and double layer for 120 minutes.


Fire rated suspended ceilings and membrane ceilings.

Self-supporting membrane ceilings provide the period of fire resistance with no other elements included, i.e. timber joists or timber flooring, spans up to four metres and fire resistance comprising of full periods of fire insulation I up to 120 minutes can be achieved with self-supporting membrane ceilings. Other forms of metal grid systems can be used typically suspended from concrete structures to provide up to 120 minutes Fire Protection. The use of Promat Supalux bevelled edge ceiling tiles provides both Fire Protection to the timber floors and steel beams where moisture performance is required within an environment that is subject to damp and cold conditions. Promat supalux bevelled edge ceiling tiles are direct replacements for asbestos tiles.


Fire rated suspended ceilings.

Self-supporting and suspended systems using Promat Durasteel can be used to provide 240 minutes Fire Protection and blast protection up to 0.34 bar pressure. Promat Durasteel ceilings can be used as plain and ceilings and can also be used as support for secondary ceilings or services. These systems are also load bearing and can withstand loadings up to 5K newtons per square metre.


Partition and external walls Promat Supalux

The picture is showing a traditional metal stud partition with single layer construction up to 120 minutes, double layer construction for 240 minutes. Promat super Lux partitions are achieving after 240 minutes in terms of E integrity and I insulation impact resistance ranging from lightweight to heavy duty as defined in BS5234 depending on construction acoustic performance up to 55 DB ease of construction due to single layer construction up to 180 minutes and only double layer gypsum materials can be up to 4 layers for 240 minutes. Moisture resistance means systems can be installed before the building envelope is watertight. Ease of construction due to simple timber framework and single layer constructions.


Partitions and external walls Promat Durasteel

First installed in 1938 Promat Durasteel can be used to provide up to 240 minutes fire resistance for internal or external walls. Systems also tested to withstand impact blast sprinkler and fire hose action. Thermal shock of cold water onto the system heated at 1000 degrees centigrade. UL FM Lloyds certifier approved installed via licensed installers network certificate of conformity provided by Promat post installation.


The right side picture shows Bass brewery Warrington and brewery and bottling plant but under building regulations did not require any form of compartmentation between the brewery and the bottling plant. The clients insurers were concerned with minimising their losses in the event of a fire and insisted in some form of subdivision of the building .a lightweight barrier solution comprising of 9.5MM Promat Durasteel sheet fixed back to rolled steel angles RSA with an overall height in excess of 10 metres was installed instead of block work, to form the compartmentation between the brewery and the bottling plant. The inevitable happened with a fire occurring in the bottling plant after the fire in a storage area within the bottling plant the total bottling plant was destroyed. The left hand side picture shows the line of the Promat Durasteel barrier very clearly.


The Promat Durasteel barrier had the supporting steelwork exposed to the fire and the roof trusses also impacted the barrier. The water which was used to extinguish the fire and dampen the roof area on the non-fireside did not degrade the barrier. The specification required the barrier to achieve 120 minutes actually achieves 240 minutes. However, it actually lasted in excess of 300 minutes in practice. The barrier had a maximum height of 10 metres and was constructed in a single layer of 9.5MM Promat Durasteel. Many products would not have maintained their performance when the fire service sprayed water onto the barrier. The fire side reached temperatures in excess of 800 degrees Celsius, and the thermal shock of the cold water hitting the barrier would have caused collapse if constructed from other types of partitioning systems. No panels were replaced after the fire and the barrier acted as the external skin of the building for a period of time until the building was refurbished.


All six pictures show the issue with regard to fire stopping where services door openings etc penetrate through the compartment wall and breached the required fire period of fire resistance. Building regulations require all openings for pipes, ducts, conduits or cables to pass through any part of a fire separating element should be kept as few in number as possible kept as small as practical and fire stopped, which in the case of a pipe or duct should allow for thermal movement.


Fire stopping best practice recommends a fire glass LPC be approved installer and certifier or LPCB approved products to provide adequate audit trail. Note the clearly label details of contractor performance and installation date.


Promat Promaseal fire stopping. There are no test requirements within BS476 regarding fire stopping there for only the principles of BS476 apply. The most common methods of fire stopping are intumescent and Silicon mastics rockwool bats and fire rated compound. Other specific products are available including Unicollar a unique pipe colour system fire barrier for rain screens and traditional pipe wraps.


Fire barrier

Promat Promaseal fire barrier is tested and independently certified for up to 240 minutes for walls and 120 minutes for floors. The product is lightweight easy to cut and install and allows the fitting of additional services after installation. Fire compounds Promat Promaseal fire compounds have been tested and independently certified for up to 240 minutes and can provide an effective seal to a horizontal span of up to 1500 mm without reinforcement.


Fire rated ductwork

Promat are able to provide a full range of fire rated ductwork systems to protect existing metal ductwork systems or self-supporting ductwork. Fire rated ductwork Promat Promatect L 500 is fully compliant with BS476 part 24 and BS5588 part 9 to achieve up to 240 minutes fire performance for a self-supporting ductwork system suitable. For natural and mechanical ventilation smoke extraction and including metal liner kitchen extract systems. Can be constructed to utilise surrounding structures ensuring they are fire rated to form 1 2 or 3 sided encasements.


Duraduct SMT new generation of ductwork systems using traditional metal ductwork technologies including 6MM Promat Durasteel to achieve after 240 minutes Fire Protection. Lightweight off site manufacture for ease of installation, installed in traditional metal ductwork methods via threaded rods and support framework. Fire rated systems to provide up to 240 minutes protection to service enclosures including oil and gas pipes cable trays and trunking and other services. Easy to fix using simple framing method.


Soffit lining thermal upgrade

Promat offer a broad range of fire and thermal performance soffit lining systems including Promat TL board. Promat TL board provides thermal performance only for upgrade to concrete structures, such as underground car park and sellers. Promat TL board is classed as CFC and H FC free ozone depletion and has A+ BREEAM rating and is BBA certified.

Soffit lining fire and thermal performance pro match TL FR board is tested in accordance with BS EN13631:1999 and EN V133813:2002 and provides up to 180 minutes Fire Protection to a structural concrete soffit. 


Fire rated soffits and dormer cheeks

There is a major concern with fire in UPVC soffits so pro Matt developed a system that comprises of Promat supalux and a pre-decorated board with mineral wool in the cavity providing 74 minutes integrity E and insulation I. Recent developments from Promat now utilise rock wall rock panel as a pre decorated option. That Promat and rock panel system achieves up to 60 minutes fire integrity E and 60 minutes full insulation I.


Case study - Windsor tower fire Madrid. 

At 96 metres 32 storeys the Windsor town was one of the tallest buildings in Madrid. With an insurance value of 84.2 million euros completed in 1979 it was undergoing refurbishment to upgrade its fire rating when disaster struck. The worst fire in Madrid's history according to Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardo gutted the building in February 2005, burning for 8 hours but smouldering for 2 days. The newly installed glazed facade fixed direct to original left a gap which was never fire stopped with catastrophic results with temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius. The fire started on the 21st floor but spread as far down as the second via an external curtain wall but although the upper 6 floors caved in miraculously the building did not collapse entirely. Before the refurbishment started no proactive or passive Fire Protection at all had been applied to the Windsor tower. When it caught fire only some flaws have been equipped with Promat Fire Protection products and measures, but it was this protection that prevented the building from collapsing completely both during and after the fire.


This image shows clearly the unprotected columns have lost load bearing strength and buckled in comparison to the protected columns which have retained their shape.


Structural steel behaviour in a fire

This graph shows how the load bearing capacity of steel changes in a fire in relation to the temperature.


Structural steel protection. Promat is the only manufacturer able to provide Technical Support and steel protection systems for all three passive Fire Protection technologies. Fire Protection boards cementitious coatings and intumescent paint.


Structural steel, Fire Protection boards Promat Vermiculux. Promat Vermiculux is classified as a material of non-combustibility, tested to BS 476 part 4. Promat Vermiculux can achieve up to 240 minutes Fire Protection to structural steel when tested to BS476 part 21. Board thickness ranges from 20MM to 60MM in 5MM increments and is easily fixed with either screws or staples. The boards have rebated edges and are screw fixed to each other. If the rebate has been removed or cutaway then a cover strip is required behind the board joint. As described in the previous slide Promat Vermiculux is not affected by moisture dampness or cold weather conditions and can be installed early during the construction programme.


Structural steel Fire Protection boards

Promat Promatect 250 this is a cost effective alternative to Promat Vermiculux however, it does not have a similar product performance. It only achieves 120 minutes protection and should not be subjected to high levels of moisture. Easy to fix and decorate thickness range being 15MM 18MM  20MM22MM and 25MM.


Structural steel protection Rock fibre. Promat TD board can provide up to 240 minutes fire performance achieved in single layer construction. Thickness range being 20MM to 55MM in 5MM increments. Options of standard script face tissue or foil face to admit fibre migration. Promat DT board is specific for being protection only and has been tested to both 550 degrees Celsius and 620 degrees Celsius for beams. Very cost effective and can provide the ideal structural steel package when used in conjunction with Promat Vermiculux.


Structural steel protection sprays. CAFCO 300 is spray or trial applied single package factory controlled premix based on vermiculite and gypsum for internal use. CAFCO 300 is a lightweight coating that provides very efficient fire resistance up to 240 minutes with minimal thickness to steel and concrete frames metal floor and roof decks and to return air plenums. CAFCO 300 can only be used in internal applications for semi exposed applications CAFCO Mandolite CP2 is available.


Structural steel protection sprays and paints, for fully exposed applications CAFCO Fendolite M2 provides up to 240 minutes Fire Protection. CAFCO Fendolite M2 produces a monolithic coating able to withstand the thermal shocks experienced in a high intensity hydrocarbon fire. Concrete structures in particular will be protected from explosive spalling when coated with CAFCO Fendolite M2. CAFCO spray film WB 2 and WB 3 is a water based intumescent coating consisting of polyvinyl acetate resins and fillers for the Fire Protection of structural steel. CAFCO spray film WB 2 and WB 3 is preferably spray applied directly to the contour of primed I and H sections and columns and beams and hollow sections to provide Fire Protection for up to 100 20 minutes. In a fire a chemical reaction takes place causing product to expand and form an insulating layer which prevents the temperature of steel rising to a critical level.


Promat and the environment

Sealed water system utilising all water usage within the manufacturing process including preparation of raw material, the manufacturing process and cleaning. Cellulose fibres used within the manufacturing process are sourced via sustainable managed timber resources within Europe. 85% all waste calcium silicate is recycled within the manufacturing process, the other 15% are supplied to landfill. Up to 20% of the finished product can comprise of recycled material. Calcium silicate can be recycled either back through the manufacturing process as described above or reapplied into another specific product application. 38% of the packaging material is recycled, which satisfies both the European directive and the UK packaging regulations. Promat has not used as best ask within its manufacturing process since the mid-70s. Calcium silicate is formulated without man made mineral fibres or any other inorganic fibres. No formaldehyde or any other preservative treatments are used within any of our manufacturing systems. Promat products do not contain CFCs or HCFCs which are detrimental to the ozone layer and ultimately the environment. Calcium silicate is benign to both handling during construction and after the material has been installed. As a company Promat manufacturing sites are working towards the environmental standard EN14001. ETEX environment statement is available upon request and covers various fields of concern including use of substances facilities and operations customers and users, etcetera.


Third party accreditation there are three principal third party accreditation systems for passive Fire Protection in the UK. Certifier LPC B and BM Trada. Promat promotes and supports the certifier product scheme and the FIRAS installer scheme.


About Promat

Promat is part of the Etex group that is a global manufacturer of building products. Other leading brands and companies within Etex include eternit building materials Marley and thermolite to name a few. Promat has a nationwide coverage of technical representatives who are able to satisfy your issues and specifications queries in relation to fire with calcium silicate solutions. Literature is specific to Fire Protection applications and includes the respected Fire Protection Handbook. National building specifications NBS clauses are available via NBS specification writer NBS specification manager and our technical services Department. The technical services Department is available on the telephone numbers presented and would typically have a response within 24 hours. CAD and drawing support is available depending on project size and commercial justification.



As shown within the presentation:

  • There are distinct market application solutions with the key emphasis on fire and other benefits including moisture impact and acoustics.
  • The brand of Promat is synonymous with quality and reassurance of performance.
  • We offer technical expertise are flexible fast track response and we offer complete solutions to the specifier.
  • Life cycle cost savings can be gained by the specification of calcium silicate due to its long term performance, which makes it practically maintenance free.
  • Promat growth has been through innovation and this innovation has been in partnership with the specifier.
  • New product development and new application areas are welcome challenges for Promat.
  • Worldwide support assists the specifier with complete confidence, whether the project is in the Far East, Africa or Europe. 
  • Promat are able to provide support and service from the design office in one country to the site in another.
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