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Protecting Your Building Against Fire: Passive Vs Active Fire Protection

11th May 2020 Print

Fire is a destructive force that can render a building worthless and lead to the loss of life. Keeping in mind that buying or building a new building can be very expensive, every building owner should take steps to ensure they protect their building against fires. Although there are so many different ways of protecting a building against fire, many building owners do not fully understand the difference between passive and active fire prevention methods. This guide should give you a better idea.

Passive Fire Protection

Passive fire protection techniques involve the use of the building’s structures and components to control the spread of a fire. Some of these components include walls, ceilings and floors. All these and more can be designed to resist fire and in that way limit its spread. 

Because these components and structures are designed with compartmentalization in mind, their ratings have to be checked to ensure that they can provide adequate protection. For example, a wall built with a one-hour fire rating should not be used in buildings with highly flammable materials because these can burn through walls in less than the time provided.

Remember that unprotected structures, such as walls, ceilings and floors, do not work well if they themselves catch fire. Once they do, they can spread the fire around. Even when they burn completely, it is important that the structure remains standing if you want to salvage the main structure of the building. 

A good way of ensuring this happens is to protect structures like steel beams using intumescent paint for steel. This paint coats steel beams and structures to ensure they do not reach a critical state when temperatures get too high and can prevent the total collapse of a building. Intumescent paint for steel from Nullfire provides such protection. They provide building and homeowners different fire protection systems and solutions. If you want to learn more, read this guide to steel protection using intumescent paint.

Active Fire Protection

These are measures that involve physical contact to reduce the spread of a fire. These are usually fire sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and fire alarms. These identify the presence and location of a fire and can either put it out or provide more time for you or the fire department to deal with the fire.

While extinguishing features are used to put out a fire or limit its spread, smoke control systems limit the spread of smoke thereby giving people time to evacuate before they suffocate.

Choosing Between the Two

Usually, you want both active and passive fire protection in your building. If you cannot afford both, at least have active fire protection in place. A sprinkler or even a fire extinguisher can save your property or give firefighters time to get to the scene before things get too bad.


Every building owner has to take measures to protect their building and its occupants from fire. While passive fire prevention is crucial, it would be best to at least have active fire prevention measures in place if you cannot afford passive fire protection.