Regulations and grounds
The purpose of a fire sealing is to break up the penetrations required by cables, pipes, chases, channels, flues and conveyor equipment that run through the separating elements, so that the separatability of the element is not substantially weakened (Finland's National Building Code E1 / 7.4.1). In case of a fire, a fire sealing prevents the spreading of flames, heat and combustion gases through the penetrations to the structure for a fixed fire endurance period, secures the safe exit of persons and prevents the damage from spreading.
Buildings or their fire compartments are grouped according to their main use. The starting point is the operating time (daytime, evening or night), users' familiarity with the premises and rescuing preparedness in case of a fire. Methods of use include for instance apartments, accommodation, institutions, production/storage spaces etc. Generally, the building should be divided into fire compartments in order to limit the spreading of fire and smoke, to secure the safe exit of people, to facilitate the rescue work and fire extinguishing as well as to limit the damage to property.
The basics of fire sealings are defined in legislation (Decree on Building Products 1.7.2013 / Act on the Approval of Building Products L, The Land Use and Building Act 5.2.1999/132 and Rescue Act 29.4.2011/379 (3rd chapter, section 9) as well as in other documents that set requirements, such as insurance companies' precautionary guidelines.
Solutions and implementation
Fire sealings are not made for the sake of authorities, but they are an extremely important part of structural risk management. Small openings in compartmentations may cause major damages.
There are several different options in the fire sealing products. It is essential to find technically the most functional but still the most cost-efficient solutions. Marketing of fire sealing products in the field is misleading in some solutions, as the customer may get a wrong impression of the solution's fire technical functionality upon purchasing the services or using the products.
Some of the most common product groups and features that affect their selection are listed below:
- Fire sealing bulks – durability, cost-efficiency
- Fire sealing fillers – small openings, elasticity, bloating tendency
- Fire collars / bloating breaking and pipe strips – plastic tube penetrations / construction joints
- Fire sealing coatings – part of wool-type solutions in light-weight structures
- Penetration reservations – cable penetrations
- Fire bags – temporary solution (during the construction or in maintenance)
- Modular fire sealings, prefabricated penetration pieces
Further information about the approval procedures and technical features of fire sealing products can be obtained via us.
In building projects fire sealings have usually been "an additional untranscribed item of expenditure", but during the past few years both developers and builders have, in cooperation with the operators of the field, created operations models that promote fire safety. With these models it has been possible to also ensure the quality of the implementations in a cost-efficient manner.
In the design stage we determine the compartmentations, the installations, the sizes of the openings = the general requirements for fire sealings. In the execution phase the fire sealing contractor executes the installation works on the basis of the fire sealing plan and complements the hand-over material with a separate implementation and quality control plan (competence of installation personnel, demonstrating the eligibility of the solutions/products, site-specific expert statements, location documentation / marking principles as well as usage and maintenance manual material).
Inspections and maintenance
So-called hidden damages are usually the biggest problem in compartmentations of old properties. These damages have usually existed ever since the completion of the property. Another practical problem lies in the post-sealing of penetrations that have broken during new installations. These sealings are either entirely unfinished or they have been executed incorrectly (the common misconception is that these issues are in order).
A survey made by an expert focuses on these problematics, including a comprehensive review of the building's compartmentations based on compartmentation limits in accordance with the building permit. At the same time the executed changes are considered, the users' future needs are forecast, solutions that facilitate the maintenance are selected and correct instructions are provided.
Below are some examples on the inspection locations of compartmentations, in which deficiencies are discovered:
- Cable rise centres / lines (floor or walls), main distribution room, cable routings (wall penetrations and tube tunnels of the basements) and important equipment spaces / machine rooms (under a raised floor)
- Ventilation engine rooms / wellholes (wellhole walls, dampers)
- Storage spaces that function as compartmentations (basements, attics) / fire load
- Upper lines of fire doors (behind the false ceiling)
- Fire doors/lids: closing and locking
Palokatkomiehet provides planning and inspection services as well as local installation services for fire sealings with over 30 years of expertise and thousands of sites.