The Difference Between Active And Passive Fire Protection

The Difference Between Active And Passive Fire Protection

Fire protection throughout a building is generally found in two forms, active fire protection and passive fire protection. While these two forms of fire protection serve different purposes, both are required to provide the most comprehensive protection against fire threats.

What Is Active Fire Protection?

Active fire protection refers to a group of systems that perform some sort of action to detect and extinguish fires. Active fire protection systems are largely designed to combat fire directly, acting to control a fire before it gets the chance to spread.

An active fire protection system can be deployed either manually or automatically. Manual fire protection systems are human operated which commonly include handheld fire extinguishers and fire blankets to smother and extinguish fires. 

Automatic fire protection systems require no human intervention in order to function, and often include fire detection systems, fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, and smoke ventilation units.

Active Fire Protection Examples 

Active fire protection systems are considered to be a proactive approach to controlling and extinguishing fires. These systems initiate an immediate response to suppress a fire while it’s still in its early stages of development.

Most active fire protection systems will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Detection: Fire detectors are able to detect the presence of a fire using smoke and heat sensors. When a fire is detected a signal gets sent to trigger fire alarms, which alerts building occupants to evacuate the vicinity.
  • Suppression: Fire suppression describes the use of water, chemical agents, inert gases, and other extinguishing agents to control and extinguish a fire. This can be carried out either manually with fire extinguishers and fire hoses, or automatically with installed fire suppression systems. Our blog on the different types of fire suppression systems explores this category in further detail.
  • Ventilation: Dense smoke from fires often causes further damage by suffocating building occupants and blocking escape routes. Ventilation systems help clear out smoke from a building to ensure safe evacuation routes in the event of a fire emergency.

What Is Passive Fire Protection?

Passive fire protection refers to the structural components of a building that helps prevent a fire from spreading throughout the building. Passive fire protection systems compartmentalise a building into smaller sections to limit the growth of a fire by containing it in a single area and preventing the fire from spreading to surrounding rooms.

Compartmentalisation Passive Fire Protection

The compartmentalisation of a building is achieved by installing fire resistant barriers, such as firewalls and fire-doors. This plays an important role in the overall fire safety strategy of a building.

The intent of passive fire protection is to contain fires long enough for building occupants to evacuate the premises, keep emergency evacuation routes clear from smoke and fires, limit property damage, and ultimately protect the lives of people.

Passive Fire Protection Examples

Fire Door Active and Passive Fire Protection

The most widely used examples of passive fire protection include:

  • Fire Doors: Fire doors are fire resistant doors that are used as part of a passive fire protection system. It is installed in the opening of a fire barrier to reduce the spread of fire and smoke between separate compartments.
Fire Walls Passive Fire Protection
  • Firewalls: Firewalls are fire resistant barriers that are designed to prevent the spread of fires. Fire resistant walls help compartmentalise a building into smaller sections to contain a fire within a specific area.
Fire Floors Passive Fire Protection
  • Fire Resistant Floors/Ceilings: Fire resistant floors and ceilings are designed to prevent the spread of fires from one floor to the next. It is a fire resistant barrier that divides a building into separate compartments.

The Difference Between Active and Passive Fire Protection

Active fire protection can be thought of as an offensive strategy that reacts to the presence of a fire. These systems take action to suppress and extinguish any detected fires.

Whereas passive fire protection can be thought of as a defensive strategy that isolates a fire and prevents it from spreading throughout the building. These systems function to contain and control a fire to restrict the fire’s growth.

FST Active and Passive Fire Protection Systems

FST is a leading supplier of automatic fire suppression systems that serves as active fire protection. Many other supplementary fire protection products can be found on our online store, including fire detection devices, fire alarm systems, pressure relief vents, fire door hold/release units, and more.

Contact us for active and passive fire protection systems that will ensure total fire safety throughout a building.