Active vs. Passive Fire Protection

Take a moment to think about the ways you’re protecting your building or workplace from the risk of fire. Maybe you have smoke alarms fitted. Perhaps you have a sprinkler system. Everything that comes to mind is probably considered to be ‘active’ fire protection. However, a fully protected property isn’t just about active systems; it’s about a mix of both active and passive fire solutions.

Understanding active & passive systems

Active fire protection refers to any sort of system that actively works to stop a fire in its tracks. This may be through early detection, through suppression, or through extinguishing the flames. These systems almost always require some sort of trigger to kick into action. For example, smoke, heat, power failure, or manual input, either by employees themselves or by the Fire Brigade.

They’re called ‘active’ systems because they require some sort of action to do their job.

Active fire protection systems may include:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Fire alarms
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Dry & wet risers
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire hose reels

These systems typically require greater maintenance, but are more powerful suppressors.

Passive fire protection, on the other hand, refers to ‘everyday’ systems that sit in the background. They don’t require intervention to work, nor do they help stop a fire. Instead, they feature inherent, built-in properties that naturally help to slow down the spread of fire. This can aid a safer evacuation, and help to reduce the extent of fire damage to people, property, and livelihood.

They are called ‘passive’ systems because they’re always quietly working, whether required or not.

Passive fire protection systems may include:

  • Fire doors
  • Fire-resistant wall & floor materials
  • Fire-resistant coatings
  • Compartmentation (division of a building or space)
  • Fire curtains

These systems generally need less maintenance, although they still require regular checkups.

There’s a common misconception that active fire protection is best. And it’s easy to see why. After all, it’s always better to stop a fire completely than it is to simply prevent it from spreading. But the truth is that neither strategy can work in isolation. Active fire protection is essential for detecting a fire and reducing the severity of the event. But not every fire can be extinguished completely using suppression systems alone. Passive fire protection is the crucial second line of defence, helping to minimise the potential impact of a fire, and containing it throughout the evacuation process.

It’s clear that no business can ever be considered to be fully protected with only active fire protection, or only passive fire protection. There has to be a balance between the two systems to create a comprehensive, well-rounded solution that ensures you’re prepared for the worst.

Protecting your business

Every business should have a blend of both active and passive solutions to best protect people and property. If you’ve got a gap in your fire protection strategy, get in touch with us at Eversafe. We’re experts in the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of essential active fire protection systems. And we’re here to help ensure your business is well-prepared to handle any fire risks.