The Importance of Compartmentation

Posted at 08/12/2017 12:02:24 Category: Articles

The importance of compartmentation

There are many instances when an open-plan design just won’t do. In hospitals, schools, offices and hotels; protective corridors, stairways and shafts are needed to isolate the rest of the building in the event of a fire.

To meet Building Regulations; all new, extended or adapted places of work and public buildings, need to adhere to fire safety regulations. One of the ways of protecting people in the event of fire is to create compartmentation within the building. Compartmentation simply ensures that there are physical, or “passive” barriers in place to restrict the movement of fire and smoke within the building. Passive barriers are the fire resistant walls and ceilings’ constructions that divide the building up.

When sub dividing a floor layout with compartment walls, significant weaknesses within the passive fire safety design of the building can occur. These weaknesses within the walls are often demonstrated with fire resistant doors not fully closing. Weaknesses could also be attributed to broken self-closing devices, or by self-closing doors not being correctly maintained. A weakness in a passive wall can be the difference between life and death - which is why buildings where there are high traffic areas, such as corridors; need to adhere to these vital regulations.

One of the easiest ways to ensure a compartment wall is complete  (with no weaknesses), is to create a safe barrier between occupants and a potential fire hazard - with a fully working self-closing door device that is continually maintained throughout the life-cycle of the building.

The way compartmentation can be achieved is simple. Using fire resistant walls and ceilings to break up spaces will make sure that fire and smoke is contained in one place and will enable more time for the occupants to move away from the fire to a place of safety, without panic. 

A self-closing mechanism fitted to fire doors can save lives because it provides more time for people to escape, restricting the internal spread of flame and smoke.

In England and Wales, the Building Regulations 2010, Part B requires self-closing devices to be used on all fire resistant doors that are located along protective corridors and protective lobbies, doors opening onto a protective corridor and places of high hazard (plant rooms - commercial kitchens).

Once a building is occupied, the users or owners of these buildings then have a legal duty to ensure all the passive fire measures, such as self-closing devices to fire doors are in good working order. If this key part on fire safety regulation is not adhered to then then the local Fire Authority have the powers to enforce all aspects of fire safety, ensuring the correct materials are installed and maintained, and if these are not applied then the local Fire Bridge has the legal power to shut the whole building down.

A range of overhead door closers are available from Door Controls Direct, which are a simple but highly effective mechanism for self-closing doors. Installing these can ensure that compartmentation is achieved, and your building remains safe and legal in the event of a fire.

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