Why is Compartmentation Required?
One of the biggest risks in a fire is the spread of smoke and toxic gases. If not handled correctly, escape routes will be rendered ineffective by the spread of smoke. Airflow between doors, rooms and available roof space will allow smoke to spread throughout a building. Compartmentation aims to mitigate this effect to ensure peace of mind, controlling the spread for a period of time aligned with the building's structural fire protection strategy.
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Expert Fire Compartmentation Surveys
The CLM Fireproofing team is highly experienced in compartmentation surveys and installations for residential and commercial properties. Our operatives share a single goal: raising the bar on building compliance and safeguarding tenants and occupants.
For compartmentation to be successful, all potential sources of airflow must be protected using fire-resistant materials. This includes joints and rafters, pipes, air ducts, and ceiling voids. Compartment walls and floors should also be installed for parts of buildings that serve separate purposes, such as offices with different companies within a business complex.
Compartment solutions must be reviewed regularly in case of any inadvertent breaches. For example, third-party contractors such as plumbers or electricians can unknowingly compromise fire compartments. These breaches can be found in cavity barriers, roof voids, joint seals, and penetration seals. Regardless of size, any breach in a compartment will render it ineffective against fire spread.
Working with CLM Fireproofing
CLM Fireproofing will conduct thorough and comprehensive inspections of fire compartments. As part of this, we will request access to a building’s fire strategy, building layouts, O&Ms related to existing installations, and details regarding any vulnerable building occupants. We will also work with a Resident Liaison Officer so that surveys are completed with minimal disruption for residents.
At the time of the survey, if we find there are minor works we can complete quickly, we will often do so in the interest of risk management. Regardless, we will complete compartmentation surveys with recommendations of remedial actions to be actioned by our team. With our in-depth knowledge and project management experience, we can also help clients source products and resources for a foolproof compartmentation system.
While the core principles of compartmentation are the same for walls and floors, a key practical consideration for floors is their load-bearing capabilities. CLM Fireproofing will create bespoke fire protection packages to meet varying structural requirements. For instance, our team uses slab systems alongside other installations that are purpose-built for fire protection between floors. This reduces the risk of flames and smoke rising between floors in the event of a fire.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main areas of focus when inspecting compartmentation systems?
When our specialists are inspecting existing compartments, the first thing they look for are breaches that could facilitate the spread of flames and smoke. Breaches are most often found in service penetrations made by installing cables, pipes and other systems.
Defective firestopping solutions are another key area of focus. For example, holes may have been filled with materials that are either combustible or inappropriate such as pink foam. There is also the possibility that firestopping solutions have been made non-compliant through a new service penetration.
What tools and technologies are used by CLM Fireproofing in compartmentation surveys?
Our operatives use borescope inspection cameras to scrutinise compartments and firestopping installations for breaches or any other signs of damage.
CLM Fireproofing uses BORIS, a cutting-edge compliance management technology, across an entire range of passive fire protection installations. As specified in the Building Safety Act (2022), there must be a chain of evidence showing all efforts made to adhere to fire protection regulations. BORIS helps to create this chain through a digital audit trail, so our team can keep meticulous and transparent records.
How does CLM Fireproofing recommend remedial actions to help buildings comply with the latest regulations?
BORIS can be used to generate client-facing reports, making it as clear as possible what remedial actions are required to bring buildings up to code. These reports include pictures with date and time stamps, information about what is compliant and non-compliant with descriptions of defective items, and what specific remedial actions are required for buildings to be compliant.
What remedial actions are the highest priority in terms of risk?
Any instance of non-compliance poses a risk to a building’s structural integrity in the event of a fire. However, if there are compartment breaches around escape corridors in buildings, these could hinder the safe evacuation of a building and must be rectified as a priority. Another example of high-priority remediation is when there is no evidence of firestopping in a compartment whatsoever.
How does CLM Fireproofing work with clients to implement remedial actions?
First, we provide a scope of work, which broadly speaking is a breakdown of required actions. We will then schedule this work around the day-to-day operations of a live building. Costs will then need to be agreed on – more information on the impact of remediation costs on leaseholders can be found here. CLM Fireproofing will then finalise the programming of the work alongside any health and safety considerations.