ESM-24 

The Importance of Fire Stopping in a Building

AUST Hendry advises that essential safety measures known as ‘fire and smoke resistant structures (walls and ceilings)’ play a critical part in building occupant fire safety. Essential safety measures regulations have recognised this fact by the recent strengthening of the Regulations relative to fire stopping. Hendry Group advises that substantial essential safety measures statutory penalties under most state regulations, apply to building owners and occupiers that knowingly allow any inadequately sealed penetration in fire rated structures or breaches in fire and smoke resisting structures to exist by not providing adequate fire stopping.

Equally severe penalties exist for simply chocking open fire and smoke resisting doors in a fire isolated stairwell or passageway. To comply with the provisions of the Regulations and AS 1851-2012 ‘Routine Servicing of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment’, Section 12, all building service penetrations through fire and smoke resisting structures should be inspected regularly for fire stopping, depending on the state.

Where inadequately sealed service penetrations or breaches are found they must be rectified in a prescribed time frame. Over the years many people have had to be evacuated from buildings, in particular one in Melbourne and two in Queensland. A large hotel, a department store and an apartment building as a result of minor fires that caused undue smoke penetration through the buildings because of inadequate fire stopping.

Although in that case there were no major personal injuries there was however considerable disruption to businesses, loss of revenue and some minor personal injuries. In Queensland, fines may apply to the owners of these buildings if their mandatory inspection records for maintenance of the passive Fire Safety Installations were found not to be up to date or there are breaches of the fire and smoke compartmentation (fire stopping) in their building
under the QFSR. AS 1851-2012 ‘Routine Servicing of Fire Protection’

The implications of these fires could have potentially been much worse. Refer to the following examples found by our Building Assessors for the types of issues that compromise fire and smoke compartmentation in buildings.

Breaches in lightweight resisting construction

Breaches in fire resisting construction – Inadequately protected PVC pipe penetration and compromised fire stopping (fire collar damaged).

Inadequately installed fire stopping (fire pillows) and non existing fire stopping around service penetrations through fire resisting construction.

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