Fire stopping is the sealing of gaps, breaches or issues found around fire resistant floors, doors and construction. These elements have been put in place to help slow the spread of fire through a building, and they must be able to resist fire for a reasonable period of time. However, cracks or openings around them might prevent them from doing the very job they’re in place for, which ultimately puts lives at risk.
In order to determine whether there are any issues, a Fire Stopping Survey is conducted. This will assess where fire resisting walls have been breached, and highlight where remedial works need to be performed to restrict the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building.
The survey will identify problem areas and the surveyor will go through a detailed inspection above suspended ceilings, loft spaces and between floors to ensure fire cannot extend through the building by means of travelling through the voids.
Fire Risk Assessments
If you’ve had a Fire Risk Assessment, you may believe that this is enough. However, a risk assessment is a very different thing to a Fire Stopping Survey. The risk assessment will cover a broad range of areas, and will simply identify that there are fire stopping issues. You will then need a Fire Stopping Survey to properly evaluate these issues and understand the appropriate action that needs to take place to remedy them.
As with a risk assessment, there is no law in place that says you have to take any actions. The survey will make recommendations on what needs to be done only. However, responsible people have a duty of care. Should the worst happen and a fire spread through your building, questions may then start to be asked. If you knew there were problems and you did nothing about it, you are knowingly leaving risks and making the people in your building vulnerable.
At RM, our advice is to always take action. If your survey makes recommendations to do work that will help secure a building, then the safest thing you can do is follow the recommendations. It’s not worth the risk to lives leaving a problem unresolved. It really can come down to a matter of life and death in these situations.
If you are looking to resolve issues highlighted in your survey, the next thing to do is make sure you are using a competent person. Doing the work incorrectly is often as bad as not doing it at all.
When it comes to sealing a breach that will help to prevent fires, not just any material can be used. The right processes with the right tools have to be used to ensure it’s properly safe. That’s why it is advisable to always use a third party certified contractor for this kind of work. Using someone certified means they know what products to use and they will complete the job effectively.
There are numerous contractors out there that could complete the work for you, but if you don’t question whether they are certified or not, then the work may not be worth anything at all. Doing it incorrectly can cost lives. It sounds shocking, but it’s true.
If you’d like details of a third party contractor with the right skills to complete your fire stopping work, please contact us a RM Risk Management. We can recommend trustworthy, certified suppliers to help you complete the work.
Don’t leave your building or your people at risk. Stop fires before they stop you. If you’re not sure what to do, please contact us and we can help.