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What is Compartmentation?

We all know that fire is an incredibly unpredictable foe.  One of the biggest dangers in a fire is the spread of smoke and poisonous gases.  People need to be able to exit a building through safe areas – that which can hold back the spread of smoke and fire.  A compartment is constructed so that it mitigates and controls the spread of smoke and fire for a prescribed length of time.  Picture your building as a box with small boxes placed inside it and each small box is a compartment. Fire must be contained in each box, to decrease risk to life and the building and to control the fire.

What is a Fire Compartmentation Survey?

A detailed and methodical inspection of the fire compartment walls and floors in order to record any breaches and issues.

Except….there’s a bit more to it than that!   It actually means we look into all the nooks and crannies, above suspended ceilings, checking bin chutes, service risers, squeezing into tight spaces, clambering into loft hatches, edging along dark and cobwebby roof voids with the aid of crawling boards and a torch!

That’s the easy part! All you need now is to have detailed knowledge of the relevant legislation and building regulations that apply to your property and the know-how of the correct fire-stopping materials and method of application to fix the issues. Using plans with compartment walls marked on and knowledge of the building, we will provide you with a comprehensive inspection with the defects and their locations complete with photos of issues found so you don’t have to do the clambering and climbing yourself.

Fire compartmentation and passive fire protection are often misunderstood.

Want to test your knowledge? See our frequently asked questions about Fire Compartmentation below.

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Frequently asked questions

We have sprinklers; do I still need compartmentation?

Yes you do still need compartments within a property if over a specific size even if you have sprinklers because it will still reduce the risk of fire and smoke spread through the property and protect escape routes

Why are breaches made in compartment walls?

Breaches are often made by third party contractors carrying out electrical, plumbing, IT works and holes are drilled through walls which aren’t firestopped.  We recommend that you ensure any works done to your property are checked to ensure they are firestopped with correct products for the application.

We don’t have a stay-put policy; why does compartmentation matter?

Whatever type of evacuation policy your building has, it is important that it is split into compartments so that any fire is restricted within a certain area for a certain time which would allow the occupants to move to an area of safety.

What is the purpose of compartmentation?

Compartmentation is a very important part of the structure for fire safety design of a building.  Large areas are divided into smaller areas with compartment walls so that if a fire starts it can be contained in one area and restricted from travelling to other sections of a building.  Compartments are built differently depending on the type of building and its use. An example is a commercial premise compared to a premise with sleeping accommodation.

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