What is the difference between active and passive fire protection?

It has become more apparent over the years how important it is to have adequate fire protection in every building. For most people, what comes to mind when they think of fire protection are sprinkler heads and fire extinguishers. However, these two elements only cover a small portion of the fire protection services you should have at all times. There are many parts to a building’s fire protection and its contents that often go overlooked.

There are two types of fire protection: active fire protection (AFP) and passive fire protection (PFP).

Active Fire Protection

Active fire protection is a group of fire protection systems that require some action or motion to initiate the system in the event of a fire.  This action may be manual, like using a hand tossed Stat-X First Responder®, a traditional fire extinguisher, or an automatic fire detection and suppression system.  The action that results from active fire protection is initiated by some sort of alert or signal. The action itself will help contain, suppress, or extinguish a fire that has already started.

Although fire suppression systems are the most obvious examples of active fire protection, fire detection or fire alarm systems are equally as important and are also considered active fire protection.  After picking up a signal, these systems will trigger a response such as alerting the fire department, activating a system like an aerosol fire suppression total flooding system, or closing fire doors. Working fire alarm systems and fire suppression systems can greatly increase your chances of suppressing a fire or even extinguishing it before it causes harm.

Passive Fire Protection

Passive fire protection is a vital component of the structural fire protection and fire safety strategy in a building. PFP are a set of stationary physical barriers used to compartmentalize a building to contain fire and smoke, keeping the fire to its original area stopping it from spreading throughout the building. PFP gives people time to escape from a building that has a fire by using fire-resistant walls, floors, and doors. The intent is to protect human life and limit the impact of damage to buildings and their contents as well as limit the downtime of a business. PFP system needs to comply with the appropriate listings and approvals for AHJ compliance, and provide the effectiveness expected by building codes.

Why you need both

Active fire protection and passive fire protection perform fundamentally different tasks that are equally as important to the total protection of the building.  Active fire protection takes action in order to put out a fire. Passive fire protection will help prevent a fire from spreading or resist the initial ignition.  They work together by alerting people inside the building of a fire and safely containing the fire so that people may evacuate and/or try to suppress the fire.

A complete safety plan includes both active fire protection and passive fire protection together for comprehensive fire protection. It is important to understand the difference between AFP and PFP so that you are confident that your assets are protected.

Fireaway manufactures the Stat-X® condensed aerosol fire suppression product line and provides active fire suppression systems.

Contact us today to speak with a professional to protect the enclosed special hazards in your buildings!

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