The speed at which fire spreads in a building can vary significantly based on several factors. These include the type of material burning, the availability of oxygen, and the presence or absence of fire safety measures. In residential buildings where materials like wood, fabric, and paper are abundant, fire can spread at an alarming rate. Even a small flame can turn into a major fire in just 30 seconds. Within 3 to 5 minutes, the fire can become life-threatening, engulfing entire rooms and producing toxic smoke. Commercial buildings filled with paper, furniture, and electrical equipment are similarly at risk.
Fire spreads through three primary methods depending on the surrounding environment. These include:
Understanding these methods is crucial for implementing effective fire prevention and safety measures.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to mitigate fire from spreading by using fire prevention devices and thoughtful fire safety planning. These include:
Fire doors are specially designed to resist the spread of fire and smoke between different compartments of a building. They are an essential component in a building’s passive fire protection system and are usually made of a combination of materials such as steel, gypsum, and glass. When closed, they can hold back fire and smoke for a specified period, usually between 30 to 120 minutes, allowing people to evacuate and firefighters to do their job in extinguishing the fire.
Cavity barriers are used to seal the cavities in walls, floors, and ceilings to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. They are often made of fire-resistant materials like mineral wool or intumescent products that expand when exposed to heat.
Fire stopping involves sealing around service penetrations (pipes, ducts, etc.) where they pass through fire-resisting walls and floors. This prevents fire and smoke from spreading from one compartment to another.
This involves dividing a building into different fire-resistant compartments to contain the spread of fire. Walls, floors, and ceilings in these compartments are constructed of fire-resistant materials, and they are designed to limit the spread of fire for a specific period.
Fire curtains are retractable or stationary barriers made of fire-resistant materials. They can be deployed manually or automatically and are used to contain or channel smoke and fire, thereby aiding in evacuation and firefighting efforts.
Passive fire protection measures are designed to contain fires or slow their spread without the need for human intervention or mechanical systems. These include the fire doors, cavity barriers, fire stopping, compartmentation, and fire curtains mentioned earlier. At Ark Fire Protection, we specialise in the installation and maintenance of such systems, which can be tailored to the specific needs of a building.
Understanding the dynamics of fire spread and implementing appropriate preventative measures can dramatically reduce the risk to life and property. It’s not just about following regulations; it’s about creating an environment where people can live and work with peace of mind.
This guide aims to answer that question, outlining the day-to-day duties, monthly tasks, emergency responsibilities, legal requirements, and training processes involved.
Fire can be a devastating force that can consume entire buildings in minutes if the conditions are right. Our latest article aims to provide insights into the speed at which fires can spread, the mechanisms behind fire spread, and ways to mitigate this potentially disastrous phenomenon.
We have partnered with Kings Secure Technologies (KST)! This collaboration allows KST, in conjunction with its group companies EFire for active fire & life safety systems and Quidvis for fire risk assessments (FRA) and fire door inspections, to enhance their service capability.