Fire Protection Design in Commercial Buildings

A building’s fire protection system is a set of technical tools designed to detect fire, identify the source, stop its spread, and extinguish it. Incorporating fire protection in the property’s design can protect the asset and its occupants against loss and injury.

One type of fire safety system is passive fire protection. It involves limiting the reach of the risk present when a fire breaks out in a building, specifically preventing the spread of heat, flames, and smoke. Fire doors, thermal insulation, non-combustible cable coating, fireproof cladding, and fire-resistant walls, among other building components, can be used as passive fire protection.

Strategically designing fire-rated floors, ceilings, and walls can prevent smoke and fire from quickly moving through the building through barriers such as doors and walls. These barriers can create compartmentation and divide a building into sections to minimize the size of a fire. A wall with a one-hour fire resistance rating can stop a fire from passing through other parts of a building for one hour.

A typical compartmentation system utilizes an assembly of fire-rated doors and walls to contain a fire and prevent the fire from spreading horizontally. Fire ratings for doors are often lower than the walls’ fire ratings. This is because the building’s furnishings that can fuel the fire are usually situated along the walls. As such, doors can be less vulnerable to fire than walls.

Building codes provide the recommended design, installation, and maintenance of fire protection systems for commercial buildings. Conducting a commercial building inspection NJ is critical to verify if the fire-rated assemblies comply with established regulations.

A building owner must routinely inspect the fire protection system of their building, as several activities can compromise fire-rated assemblies. An example is electric plumbing modification that leaves open penetrations in fire-rated walls. Building owners can ask that a fire protection inspection be conducted as part of the standard Property Condition Assessment NJ

A fire protection system in a commercial building is critical for the safety of building occupants. Building owners must enlist the help of experienced and competent professional engineers to review their buildings’ blueprints and actual construction.

For more information about fire protection design in commercial buildings, here is an infographic by Lockatong Engineering.

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