When you think about fire protection systems installed in commercial and residential buildings, images of fire alarms, sprinklers and fire extinguishers come to mind. These systems and instruments play a vital role controlling the spread of fire and providing a window of opportunity for the occupants to evacuate the fire scene. However, there is more to an effective fire protection plan than just sprinklers and extinguishers. A comprehensive fire protection plan consists of the following two components:
- Active Fire Protection Plan
- Passive Fire Protection Plan
The purpose of both plans is to ensure the safety of occupants and to minimise damage to the building. In the event of a fire, it is imperative that both active and passive protection plans work together. In order to implement a comprehensive and cohesive fire protection plan in your home or workplace, you need to have a complete understanding of active and passive fire protection plans: what they are and how they work. Let’s have a look at them in detail:
Active Fire Protection Plan (AFP)
Active fire protection plans or AFP are systems or items that demand some sort of action to come into play. They require something or someone to trigger them for them to fulfil their roles against fires. Both fire detection systems and fire suppression systems fall within the category of AFP. This action can be done manually, like using a fire extinguisher. The action can be automatically triggered. Take the example of smoke activating the sprinklers. Fire detection systems such as fire alarms, which are automatically activated in the presence of smoke, heat or flame, also fall under this category.
Passive Fire Protection Plan (PFP)
Passive Fire Protection (PFP) includes all systems or items that contain the fire or slow its spread. The essential function of PFPs is that it compartmentalises a building through a series of fire-proof dividers, making it harder to fires to spread across divisions and more likely to be contained in specific areas. Using fire rated doors at various exit points is a classic example of PFP. Spray-applied fireproofing, fire-resistant glass, fire rated walls, windows, doors and cable coatings are examples of equipment making up the PFP.
Both active and passive fire protection plans work together symbiotically. The active fire protection system is instantly triggered into action in the event of a fire emergency. The fire alarm system gets activated as soon as it detects some sort of smoke or fire in the building. Fire alarms alert occupants to the presence of a fire while simultaneously triggering off other AFP systems to fight the fire. While the active fire protection systems are working to put out or diminish the fire, passive fire protection systems help by hindering the fire from spreading, minimising damage caused and maximizing the time for occupants to evacuate from the building or home.