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Care must always be taken when it comes to fire safety

Fire safety is a major concern for many in the building services industry.

With virtually all mechanical and electrical applications needing to penetrate through fire-rated building elements at some point, it is not enough to simply specify service products and surrounding insulation that achieve a high level of fire performance.

Care must also be taken to ensure the number of penetrations are kept to an absolute minimum and that any required are cut or drilled as tightly as possible.

Furthermore, Approved Document B of the Building Regulations in England and Wales also requires that these penetrations are effectively fire stopped. Failure to do so may undermine the compartmentalisation of the building, allowing flames and smoke to spread uninterrupted vertically and laterally through any concealed cavities – putting both property and lives at risk.

Simple solutions

There are a number of fire-stop options on the market, but for pipework applications the simplest solution is often to fit a fire sleeve that maintains vapour barriers as the insulated pipework passes through the building element.

Fire sleeves typically comprise an intumescent layer inside a metal facing, which is sealed at both ends with compressible rings. In the event of a fire, the heat causes the intumescent layer to swell to several times its original size and form a hard char, closing any gaps between the pipework and penetration edge.

Fire sleeves are available in a range of sizes to suit most applications and are often fixed in place with a straightforward clasp fastening. When combined with a fire-rated insulation product, sleeves can provide a fast-track, fuss-free route to compliance – and a safe solution.

Carl Davison is technical services manager at Kingspan Tarec Industrial Insulation

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