Your Full Guide to Fire Compartmentation Surveys
Posted on 27th November 2023
Fire compartmentation surveys are integral for maintaining the passive fire protection rating of your property. Compartmentation is one of the best and most effective ways of limiting the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building, preserving its structural integrity and protecting the lives of occupants.
As a Responsible Person in a building, it’s essential to ensure your property has sufficient compartmentation in place.
In this article give you an overview of everything you need to know about compartmentation surveys before you book one..
What is Fire Compartmentation?
In passive fire protection, compartmentation is the process of dividing a building into smaller compartments in order to prevent fire from spreading. This is normally achieved using fire-resistant materials, such as fire doors, fire walls and floors and fire stopping. Fireproof glazing is also used in fire doors facing internal escape routes.
If a fire does break out within a particular area of a commercial or residential building, fire compartmentation measures help contain it in this area for a specified period of time. This provides occupants with sufficient time to escape by keeping escape routes clear. It also allows fire brigades time to arrive and put out the flames.
Compartmentation is integral not only for preserving the life safety of occupants, as well as protecting your property from damage.
What is a Fire Compartmentation Survey?
A fire compartmentation survey is a complete, detailed inspection of the compartmentation in a building, assessing its ability to contain fire for the required period of time.
For a lot of cases an annual Fire Risk Assessment would be sufficient enough to stay compliant with industry regulations, however, a survey might be necessary in the following circumstances:
If there is reason to believe there are serious defects with one or more of the fire stopping components which can’t be determined during a Fire Risk Assessment.
If any concerns are raised during a Fire Risk Assessment regarding the compartmentation in areas that are not easily accessible. Those include above ceilings, under floors, roof voids, cavities or service cupboards.
What Does a Fire Compartmentation Survey Cover?
Generally the full scope of a fire compartmentation survey will include:
A visual inspection of the condition of the existing fire compartments.
Detailed inspection of the integrity of fire seals going through service penetrations within the compartment walls.
An assessment of the materials used to seal service penetrations and joints, in particular their fire rating and installation.
An inspection of all fire doors installed on the premises and their condition
A detailed report of any unprotected structural steelwork within the compartments that might impact the effectiveness of the fire compartmentation.
An action plan with photographic evidence and notes of any found defects as well as recommendations for the remedial actions required.
When are Compartmentation Surveys Required?
Under the Building Regulations Fire Safety: Approved Document B, commercial and residential buildings of multiple occupants should be effectively divided into self contained compartments via fire doors and fire walls.
The regulations require compartments to provide a barrier between escape routes and high-risk areas, reducing the spread of fire and smoke throughout the building. There are no legal requirements of how often a survey should be carried out, however, it is highly recommended to have one done on an annual basis.
Why is a Fire Compartmentation Survey Important?
This type of survey is particularly important in certain types of premises, for example, occupied buildings including care homes, hospitals, university halls, hotels and high-rise blocks of flats. These settings are often occupied by vulnerable people who may need more time for evacuation. If a fire breaks out, you want to ensure the compartmentation methods in place will allow occupants enough time to safely leave the premises.
Therefore, it’s vital to maintain compartmentation within the building through regular inspections and remedial work, should it be required.
Who Should Carry Out a Fire Compartmentation Survey?
Compartmentation surveys should be carried out only by competent individuals with the necessary qualifications, skills and experience for the job. Unlike the standard Fire Risk Assessment, a survey involves elements of intrusiveness, so having the right training is crucial. Knowledge of building structure, materials and design is also important.
How is a Compartmentation Survey Different from a Fire Stopping Survey?
Although fire compartmentation and fire stopping surveys are closely related, there are significant differences in their scope.
A fire stopping survey as the name suggests, inspects the fire stopping measures and systems in place within a building. During this type of survey a qualified engineer will highlight problem areas, including any degradation of fire-resistant floors or walls.
Fire Compartmentation Surveys with GRJ Surveying
Do you need an expert to carry out a fire compartmentation survey of your premises? GRJ Surveying can help. Our third-party accredited team of fire protection consultants carries out compartmentation surveys in commercial and residential buildings of all scales. In addition, we also inspect fire doors, structural steel and your overall passive fire protection.
Once your survey is completed, we can also carry out all the remedial work needed to ensure your building is compliant with the latest regulations.
Contact Our Team
For more information about our services, please fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch.
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