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Fire compartmentation

How to protect warehouses and factories from the effects of fire

When designing or working on industrial projects such as warehouses, factories or industrial sheds, architects and designers must consider fire compartmentations to limit the risk of fire, heat or smoke from spreading throughout the building.  Compartmentation provides added protection to ensure potential highly flammable products or materials are stored in a safe location within the premises, often protected away from a path of egress.

What is the purpose of compartmentation in warehouses and industrial premises

Fire compartmentation aims to prevent the loss of goods or greater damage to the premises.  Good design allows containment of the fire but more importantly provides added protection  to facilitate worker’s safe evacuation from the premises in the event of a fire.

Dividing the building or structure into multiple smaller areas (fire compartments) is also a cost-effective form of passive fire protection as it may reduce the need for costly active fire protection systems such as sprinklers.
Depending on the use of the building (such as a warehouse or factory), its height, floor space and whether or not a sprinkler system has been installed. These factors will determine the level of fire compartmentation required.

In terms of warehouses for example, fire protection has to take into account the fact that fire and smoke often spread vertically, due to the high stack heights of products within the warehouse.  Factories often contain complex production processes that can spread fire and smoke by means of conveyor belts and other electrical machinery. 

How does compartmentalisation work? What product can you use to protect your premises

Firewalls are commonly used to separate the different areas from each other and stop any fire from spreading and engulfing an entire warehouse or factory.

Unaffected areas of the warehouse or factory will be sealed off from the fire and smoke, while affected areas will be segmented into smaller, easier to manage sections. The effective use of fire compartments allows safe passage for firefighters to  enter the building and begin to get the fire under control.

Progressive Materials supplies Promat’s range of fire rated boards that can be used for wall, ceiling and steel protection systems.

PROMATECT® 100 – Lightweight firewalls
PROMATECT® 100 is the leading board for constructing lightweight fire walls. It is developed from matrix engineered mineral and gypsum technology using PROMAXON® and can be used for walls, ceilings and steel protection systems for up to 4 hours fire protection.

Product features:

  • 120 Minute FRL with a single layer on each side of studs
  • No insulation required in the cavity to achieve FRL
  • PROMATECT® 100 is tested to AS 1530.4 for up to 240 minutes

 

DURASTEEL®  systems – Extremely strong blast, impact and moisture resistant board
DURASTEEL® is a composite panel fire protection board, consisting of a fibre-reinforced cement core mechanically bonded to punched steel sheets on both outer surfaces.

The systems are installed by approved installers as fire barriers, blast walls, transformer barriers, fireproof ceilings, service protection, fire doors, valve box enclosures and fireproof storage vaults.

The systems have been tested to a wide range of standards around the world including Factory Mutual (FM), Underwriters Laboratories (UL and ULC), Certifire, Dubai Civil Defence and Lloyds Register.  

Product features:

  • Up to 4 hours fire protection
  • Blast resistant – tested to 2 Bar (200KN/M² OVERPRESSURE)
  • Weather proof

 

Promat SYSTEMPANEL ® 2G – Easy and fast to install light-weight flooring system
Promat SYSTEMPANEL ® 2G is a non combustible matrix engineered mineral board reinforced made of select fibres and fillers and designed to provide fire protection from above or below while also carrying a heavy load. It is formulated without inorganic fibres and does not contain formaldehyde and is manufactured to meet environmental standards.

Product features:

  • Loadbearing fire rated floor and ceiling system
  • Available in 60,90 and 120 minutes systems
  • Manufactured to meet environmental standards and also has fire resistance approvals to AS 1530.4

 

Fire safety checklist – identify Fire Hazards in your warehouse or factory

In addition to fire compartmentalisation, evacuation procedures and fire protection strategies are also essential components for warehouse and factory fire protection.

What you should consider part of your fire safety strategy:

  • Organise the product storage to minimise the risk of fire (keep the warehouse tidy) and avoid blocking fire systems such as fire sprinklers and smoke alarm
  • Store chemicals correctly and at the right temperature to avoid an explosion and fire
  • Keep exits and evacuation paths clear of any obstacles to facilitate the evacuation of the premises should smoke be detected in the warehouse
  • Have the right fire safety equipment installed by professionals, including smoke detectors, automatic fire safety sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers (in every section of the warehouse and for the right type of fire that could occur), as well as other fire safety equipment such as fire blankets, fire hose reels, electrical fire alarms, exit lighting and voice communication systems
  • Every single warehouse and factory facility should have clearly marked exit signage, fire evacuation routes and muster points which are practised and made known to all staff and visitors on arrival
  • Conduct a fire-risk assessment for warehouses and factories every year and get the fire safety equipment checked and tested regularly

 

If you are looking for advice on Fire Protection for Warehouses and Industrial premises, you can get in contact with one of our technical consultants. We also offer training sessions for Architects, Engineers, Certifiers, Contractors on how to correctly specify, install, inspect and maintain our wide range of systems. You can register your interest by completing the form at the end of the article.

 

FAQ

 

Why is compartmentation critical?
Compartmentation is a key component of fire protection and can help effectively protect people, assets and the environment from the dangers and effects of fire. 

Compartmentation using fire rated boards in addition to fire stopping systems for service penetrations will contain the fire in the room or area of origin, limiting the spread of heat and smoke thus providing safe refuges and safe escape routes to the occupants.

 

What is the maximum height I can build a firewall to?
Using Promatect 100 firewalls can be constructed up to 15m high

 

Can I install fire doors within my fire rated wall?
Yes fire doors tested and approved to AS1905 can be installed within a fire wall.


20 Dec 2021

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