February 28, 2023

What is fire compartmentation?

Contractors walk around site

What is fire compartmentation?

Fire compartmentation is when the overall building is divided into smaller compartments to prevent the spread of smoke and fire for a specified period of time. These compartments are constructed with fire-resistant materials, including fire doors, duct dampers, and fire rated glazing etc and all service penetrations suitably fire stopped.

The overall aim is to ensure that if worse comes to worst, and a fire does break out, the fire is contained and restricted to one part of the building for as long as possible. Successful compartmentation will ensure that occupiers have clear escape routes, free from smoke and fire to enable safe egress from the building. If compartmentation is effective, the other subdivisions of the building will be protected for a period of time, allowing fire services enough time to arrive to tackle the blaze and limit toxic gases, smoke, heat, and flames penetrating other parts of the building.

What is a compartmentation survey?

A compartmentation survey should be undertaken by a qualified and competent individual who has the necessary experience and skills of not only fire safety but also a broad and sound knowledge of the overall construction process and materials of a building.

The process should include:

  • Review of current fire strategy and understand of where compartment lines should be
  • Review site-specific information such as previous fire risk assessments and asbestos surveys
  • An extensive visual inspection of all current fire compartmentation provisions including (but not limited to) floors, walls, ceiling voids, doors, glazing, shafts, and risers. It will be imperative that access is gained to all applicable areas to ensure a comprehensive and fact-based opinion can be made and reported back
  • An assessment of the construction materials forming the compartmentation lines and if these are of a material and constructed in a manner to provide the required protection
  • An assessment of the compartment condition and if it has any subsequent defects e.g holes, linear gaps at abutments, unsealed service penetrations etc
  • Inspect any certification for the fire doorsets, which there will be if they have been installed with third party certification. Inspect the doorsets to see if they are of the required rating, are fire and smoke seals fitted, are the gaps to the door surround and threshold correct, is the glazing fire rated, are the hinges and ironmongery fire rated, is there any damage, is the frame to surround sealed correctly
  • Inspect any existing fire stopping to gaps, holes and service penetrations, does it have installers stickers with identity tags? if there is no installer identification are the materials used typically what would be expected and installed in a manner that would be expected? Are service penetrations stopped with the correct method e.g wraps, collars, ablative batt, high pressure or intumescent mastic etc?
  • A clear action plan that outlines the locations of any defects, should include photographic evidence and recommended actions to be taken to remedy any existing issues

Why are compartmentation surveys important?

Compartmentation Surveys are a vital part in ensuring compliance with fire protection regulations and industry standards. They make sure a building is in line with current regulations and more importantly, the property provides the required protection in the event of a fire to enable all occupants to evacuate the building without smoke and fire compromising their escape.

At Concertus, our team have the perfect skillset to conduct comprehensive compartmentation surveys, giving you total peace of mind. We will deliver a detailed report on the condition of all structural elements, leaving you with a clear plan of action where required. If you would like more information, contact us today.