Elixirengg

Fortifying Fire Safety in Residential Buildings: The Unsung Heroes – Fire Stopping and Sealants

Introduction:

The structural integrity of the building comes from the continuity of Beams and Columns. Any break / puncture in the continuity of the beams and columns can lead to the strength of the entire structure being compromised – sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Similarly, the fire safety of the building is also greatly compromised when the continuity of the floor slabs / fire wall is punctured. This can allow the heat and smoke from fires in the lower floors to rise to the upper floors – leading to a very heavy toll of life and property damage.

Fire Safety and Punctures:

The continuity of floor slabs and fire walls is of utmost importance in maintaining fire safety within a building. Unfortunately, due to utility requirements such as electrical cables, plumbing pipes, and garbage chutes, it becomes necessary to puncture these slabs, creating potential pathways for heat and smoke during a fire. This compromises fire safety and increases the risk of life and property loss.

Sealing the Openings with Fire Sealants:

To prevent the spread of heat and smoke through these openings, it is imperative to seal them with fire-resistant materials. Fire sealants are specially designed to fill the gaps and provide effective barriers against the movement of heat and smoke. There are various types and ratings of fire sealants available, with the most common being those with a 120-minute rating. These sealants ensure that they can withstand fire for a period of 120 minutes (2 hours), giving occupants ample time to evacuate safely.

Importance of Fire Stopping in High-Rise Buildings:

In high-rise apartment buildings, the risk of fire spreading to upper floors is greater due to the flue or chimney effect. In such cases, fire stopping or using fire sealants becomes even more critical. Failure to properly seal the gaps in slabs, walls, and other openings can result in the rapid spread of smoke and heat, endangering the lives of occupants, especially those on higher floors.

Compliance with Building Codes:

National Building Code of India (NBC 2016) in its Foreword to Part 4 – which deals with Fire and Life Safety – says “Experience has shown that ….. Vertical ducts and horizontal shafts tend to act as flues / tunnels during a fire. Provision should therefore be made to provide fire stopping in such spaces.”

Further clause 4.4.2.5 states that “In building design compartmentation plays a vital part in limiting the spread of fire and smoke. The design should ensure avoidance of spread of smoke to adjacent spaces through the various leakage openings in such as cracks, openings around ducts and pipes, airflow grills and doors. In the absence of proper sealing of all these openings, smoke and toxic gases will obstruct the free movement of occupants through the exits.”

Consult our Fire Advisors:

To ensure the highest level of fire safety in your building project, it is recommended to consult a fire advisor or licensed agency with expertise in fire safety measures. They can provide you with detailed information and guidance on fire stopping requirements specific to your building design.

Conclusion:

Maintaining the continuity of beams, columns, slabs, and fire walls is crucial for the structural integrity and fire safety of buildings. By sealing openings and punctures with fire sealants, the spread of smoke and heat can be effectively prevented, giving occupants more time to evacuate during a fire. Compliance with building codes and consulting fire advisors or licensed agencies are essential steps towards ensuring the utmost safety in construction projects. For further details or assistance, please contact us at 022 3946 4343; we’ll be happy to help.

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