Fire Protection Design in Commercial Buildings


A building’s fire protection system encompasses technical tools that detect fire, identify its origin, slow its spread, and extinguish it. Its main goal is to curtail the impact of fire and avert personal harm and financial losses. 

One type of fire safety system is passive fire protection. This system is integrated into a building’s blueprint and construction. Passive fire protection includes fire doors, thermal insulation, non-combustible cable coatings, fireproof cladding, and fire-resistant walls. 

Another fire safety system is active fire protection, which employs dynamic systems that typically operate manually or automatically. Fire alarms and sprinklers, among other types of active fire protection devices, can be triggered through heat, smoke, or flames. 

Both active and passive systems safeguard occupants and properties. Thus, they must be properly integrated within the building through the help of a structural engineer Mercer County

Building laws and standards provide guidance on the proper installation of fire safety systems. An example is the Standards on Types of Building Construction (NFPA220). This outlines the categories of building construction based on the combustibility and fire resistance rating of its structural parts. 

NFPA 220 has five primary types–Type I, II, III, IV, and V. Type I relates to fire-resistive constructions. These buildings are made of non-combustible materials, usually steel or concrete. Type I buildings have the highest fire-resistant rating among all kinds. Structures under Type I are made to withstand fire for an extended period without collapsing.

Following this is Type II, referring to buildings with non-combustible construction. Type II buildings are composed of steel that is bolted, riveted, or welded steel together. Its steel members may be vulnerable to expanding and relaxing, which can cause an early collapse in the event of a fire. 

Types III, IV, and V are considered fire-prone buildings as they are made of combustible materials, like wood and lumber joints. 

More details about the different building construction types and tips for fire protection can be found in this infographic by Lockatong Engineering.