You are on page 1of 2



Many changes can take place during the life of a building, including the components
of passive fire protection.
By Ed Soja, BRANZ Senior Fire Safety Engineer

assive fire protection doesnt have to protected path in a building, a smoke-resistant
spray water or sound an alarm like lift lobby or a smoke-stop door.
an active fire protection system, but Fire separations that bound exitways should
it still needs to be maintained. After be visually inspected each day for signs of
passive fire protection is installed, satisfactorily damage or deterioration that could adversely
inspected and given a Code Compliance affect their fire-resistance function, particularly
Certificate indicating compliance with the with respect to closures, exposed fire-stopping
Building Code, the building must be maintained and surface finish and new penetrations without
so that the passive fire protection can carry on suitable fire-stopping. Doors that form part of
providing its fire or smoke separation function. an escape route must be openable and not
Passive fire protection includes any fire safety fire safety in the building will be reduced until be locked, barred or blocked. Further checks
measure that does not actively respond to the the defect is rectified. should also be carried out at least yearly to
presence of flame, high temperature or smoke A passive fire protection scheme can consist ensure that:
and comprises aspects such as fire-resistant of several components, each with unique doors are not damaged or obstructed
walls and doors, design of evacuation routes, maintenance requirements. Some passive fire door leaves or fire shutters close and latch
passive signage, passive smoke venting and so protection, such as fire doors and fire dampers, automatically from any position
on. Fire and smoke doors, for instance, which may be part of a combined active-passive double-acting doors and double-leaf doors
need to close in a fire, are considered passive system. This is a special case known as an stop with the leaves in line with the frame
fire protection even though they are activated integrated system, which is not discussed here. and seals (where fitted) are in contact at
by an alarm. meeting stile and/or frame
The elements of passive fire door leaves on self-closers shut with an
Inspect and correct protection acceptable maximum closing force
It is essential to maintain, inspect and undertake The Building Code does not require regular hardware is securely fixed
corrective actions on a passive fire protection inspection of some passive fire protection no unauthorised hardware is attached
system to maximise its reliability and ensure elements, such as firewalls or penetrations fire doors in exitways can be opened without
it continues to meet the requirements of the that are not part of an escape route. However, keys to allow ready egress from the building
relevant design, installation and commissioning building owners should carry out their own at all times
procedures until the next scheduled activity. inspections on a regular basis, particularly after fire door to frame clearances comply with
Maintenance and inspections must be carried work is carried out on the building. AS/NZS1905.1:1997 or as tested
out by qualified persons, such as an approved FIRE AND SMOKE SEPARATIONS the manufacturers label is on the fire door
independent qualified person (IQP) or the Examples of a fire separation include a fire door leaf or shutter and frame where installed in
manufacturers representative (the inspection or wall that forms a safe path within a building, accordance with AS/NZS1905.1 (and where
period should be defined in the compliance a fire-rated floor in a service cupboard within the door installation has been subject to a
schedule). Any defects must be remedied as a means of escape or a fire-resistant wall that building consent, the labels comply with C/
soon as possible, with provisional measures put separates parts of a building. Examples of a AS1 Part 6)
in place to compensate in the meantime, as the smoke separation include a wall forming a fusible link/rollers/cables can be activated

56 BUILD 124 June/July 2011

doors or windows are not kept open by Final exits should be inspected to ensure
methods other than hold-open devices that they can be opened from inside the building
comply with C/AS1 and are in good working and are not locked, barred or blocked. Door-
order latching devices must be clearly visible, easily
doors have not been relocated without operated without a key or other security device
suitable fire separation in the ceiling space and configured so they do not prevent or over-
above the door ride the direct operation of panic bolts fitted to
separations are not damaged or deteriorated any door. Maintenance must include measures
in a way that could adversely affect their fire- to ensure that final exits are clearly identified,
resistance function free of obstructions, unlocked and easy to use.
separations do not have new penetrations SIGNAGE
without suitable fire-stopping. Signs communicate important information
SMOKE CONTROL SYSTEMS during an evacuation. Exit signs, no exit signs
Smoke control systems are not a dedicated and directional evacuation signs are just three
escape route pressurisation system or part of examples of signs that facilitate evacuation and
the buildings normal mechanical ventilation must be inspected regularly.
system. They may include a mechanical Illuminated signs should be inspected each
ventilation system, such as dedicated fire month to ensure they are present, legible,
mode extraction fans and relief air dampers, in illuminated, of the correct type and in the right
addition to passive smoke control features, such locations. Illuminated signs should also be
as bulkheads, smoke curtains, pressure relief tested to ensure they remain illuminated in the
and venting openings. event of a failure of the main lighting supply.
Smoke control systems usually have Signs that do not need to be illuminated should
mechanical components, such as automatic be similarly inspected but on an annual basis.
vents and automatic smoke curtains, but may The same principles of regular inspection
use natural smoke control, such as a plenum and maintenance apply to other passive fire
area for collecting smoke, or contain passive protection items found in buildings.
components like smoke curtains, vents and
so on. In buildings that include passive Frequency of inspections
smoke control features, the maintenance and The frequency of inspections varies with the
inspection is confined to ensuring the smoke activity in the building and type of passive
separations will function as planned. Items to fire protection. At a minimum, passive fire
check include: protection should be inspected:
additional installations in a plenum that daily when the building is in use, for crowd
would reduce the planned volume of smoke occupancies and for all buildings where
collecting building work is occurring that may affect a
any damage, deterioration or penetrations in fire separation
the installation of the smoke separations that 6-monthly for crowd occupancies when not
would allow smoke to penetrate in use
alterations in the rest of the building affecting monthly and annually for all other
smoke movement. occupancies
FINAL EXITS after any work has been carried out on the
A final exit is defined in C/AS1 as the point building.
at which an escape route terminates by giving Signs should be inspected monthly and annually
direct access to a safe place. A safe place is a regardless of type of occupancy.
location where people may safely disperse after For more information on passive fire
escaping the effects of fire. Examples of final protection systems and maintenance, see
exits include an exit door from the building to the Department of Building and Housings
the street, an exit gate at the base of an external Compliance Schedule Handbook, AS 1851-
stair or between an enclosed yard of a building 2005 Maintenance of fire protection systems
and the street, a door between two evacuation and equipment, AS/NZS 1905.1:1997
zones in a hospital with staged evacuation or Components for the protection of openings in
a door between two buildings where either fire-resistant walls Fire-resistant doorsets and
building is a safe place for the adjacent building. compliance document C/AS1 Fire safety.

BUILD 124 June/July 2011 57