Passive fire protection refers to the use of construction elements within a building that are designed to prevent or delay the spread of fire and/or smoke to different parts of the building.

What is passive fire protection?

Passive fire protection prevents and slows fire spread, decreases property damage, and ensures stability in safe paths and egress routes in the event of a fire for occupants and emergency services to safely evacuate. Passive fire protection includes fire rating of building elements & structure.

Why is passive fire protection important and why is it required?

Passive fire protection is the system that you don’t think about and don’t commonly see, but it is also the system that will prevent fire spread and keep your building structurally safe to allow building occupants to egress and emergency services to work safely.

Passive fire systems work in combination with active fire systems such as sprinklers and fire alarms. Active fire systems rely on passive fire systems to contain fire and smoke spread to allow them to work properly.

The New Zealand Building Code (NZBC), specifically Clause C, details clause objectives for C2-C26 with the goal to:

  1. safeguard people from an unacceptable risk of injury or illness caused by fire

  2. protect other property from damage caused by fire, and

  3. facilitate firefighting and rescue operations.

These clauses give guidance around building design to allow firefighters and rescue services to access the building and evacuate people safely.

Fire Engineers utilise the NZBC and related acceptable solutions when designing fire reports and fire specifications for buildings. The NZBC, C/AS1, C/AS2 and C/AS3 provide clear information to engineers which allow them to specify what active and passive fire systems are required to be installed. System installation requirements are dependent on building risk group / purpose groups, building size / height of escape route and occupancy levels.

FSS passive fire protection service

Fire Security Services have a team of experienced passive fire specialists ready to support you for your building needs. Our team includes experienced experts and Independent Qualified Persons (IQP’s) to provide clear and precise information on passive fire requirements.

Our compliance team complete monthly and annual inspections of your smoke and fire separations. We report back on any compliance issues in our online software with our real time customer portal. We complete inspections for the following systems:

  • SS3/3 Interfaced fire or smoke doors or windows

  • SS13/3 Smoke curtains

  • SS15/3 Fire separations

  • SS15/5 Smoke separations

Should systemic issues be present in your building, FSS can provide a comprehensive passive fire survey detailing every single defect into a comprehensive building report. Each defect has a picture, location, and description of the fault. This is particularly useful for new property being acquired, to ensure you are not inheriting historical passive issues with your building.

Working closely with relevant stakeholders (client, councils, and fire engineers) is a key element to success, to ensure everyone is on the same page, and that an as near as reasonably practicable approach is adopted by all. It is accepted best industry practice to use a risk-based approach when remedying the passive fire safety of a building, to identify which penetrations should be sealed immediately and which are of a lower priority. It is also accepted by councils, fire engineers and IQPs that not all penetrations will necessarily need to be sealed, as to do so, would be very expensive and disruptive for the building owners/users.

Fire Security Services has the skills and experience to project manage specialist passive repair / fire stopping sub-contractors. We can also work with any nominated building contractors to ensure that the repair is completed as per compliance requirements and that the correct paperwork is issued.

Fire Security Services are your comprehensive solution when it comes to all things Passive Fire Protection.


Case Study: Grenfell Tower Fire 

The Grenfell tower fire originated from an fridge electrical fault inside a flat. The fire quickly spread horizontally through the flat until it reached the external/vertical walls. The fire penetrated the wall cavity and spread vertically up the building, around the building and then back down the columns. 

Failings include: 

  • Lack of horizontal fire-resistant materials inside flat – allowing fire to quickly spread to external cladding.

  • External cladding was not fire resistant but instead acted as a propellent – allowing the fire to quickly spread up the building.

  • The lack of passive fire separations saw the fire spread quickly through multiple areas of the building, compromising egress routes and multiple passive cells.

  • Poor building engineering, poor installation and poor identification and rectification of risks resulted 72 people losing their lives. 

A lot can be learnt from the Grenfell tower fire. New buildings in New Zealand are being engineered to code requirements using a combination of active and passive fire systems. 

Some buildings in New Zealand may be at risk due to historical failings in engineering, poor identification of passive fire risks and failure of building owners to act and rectify passive fire defects.

If you would like a comprehensive passive fire survey to identify compliance defects for your building, FSS can help you, please get in touch for more information.