Difference between Active and Passive Fire Protection


Due to the destructive nature of fire, efficient fire protection is critical to saving lives and minimizing the damage to property whenever such incidences occur. It is recommended that residential, commercial and industrial premises are equipped with essential fire protection systems and fire safety products. However, a majority of people still find it challenging choosing between active and passive fire protection.

Active and passive fire protection systems work together, facilitating the immediate detection and response to fire emergencies. But, they entail different kinds of systems and solutions that you should clearly understand in order to make informed decisions about the most suitable fire protection approach for your living and work spaces. Without knowing the difference between active and passive fire protection, you could end up with systems that will not appropriately resolve the fire threats on your premises.

What is Active Fire Protection?

Active fire protection refers to a series of fire protection systems that work to detect and stop fires on buildings. As the name suggests, these systems require some sort of activation either manually or electronically. Active fire protection systems work in three main ways during fire emergencies; detection, suppression and ventilation. Detection occurs through sensors that detect heat or abnormally high room temperatures, smoke and flames. Whenever a fire occurs, these sensors detect the threats and signal the alarms to alert the occupants.

Suppression mainly refers to the actions involved in putting out fires. Active fire protection systems can extinguish fires manually or automatically depending on their functions. Ventilation on the other hand, emphasizes keeping escape routes safe for the evacuation of occupants during fire emergencies. The main types of active fire protection include fire sprinklers, fire alarms, portable fire extinguishers, wet & dry riser systems, smoke control systems and fire suppression systems.

What is Passive Fire Protection?

Passive fire protection also integrates different kinds of fire protection systems and fire safety products but, segments the premises and uses fire rated doors and floors to prevent the spread of fire. Dividing the building into sections and installing fire resistant walls and floors also offers the occupants an ample time to evacuate the building before the fire gets bigger. Passive fire protection also uses dampers to avoid the spread of smoke and flames through the HVAC systems.

For high rise premises with multiple floors, passive fire protection systems like exit & emergency lights are recommended to ensure the safe evacuation of people during fire incidences. Smoke escape masks, fire blankets and fire smoke control dampers are also important passive fire protection systems for ensuring fire safety in homes, offices, warehouses, schools, hospitals and other public spaces.

Choosing between Active and Passive Fire Protection

Active fire protection focuses on taking the necessary actions for putting out fires safely and quickly. Passive fire protection emphasizes on preventing the spread of fire and smoke. Despite their disparities, both active and passive fire protection systems are essential to the overall fire safety of a building.  The fact that one is working does not mean you should ignore the other or that the other systems are less significant to fire safety.

There are times when some active fire protection systems may not be effective. For example, fire sprinklers usually experience faults in winter as a result of freezing of the pipes. Besides, fire hydrants may also freeze in very cold environments. That means you could be in great danger whenever fire emergencies occur during those times. For better fire safety, you will need alternative passive fire protection systems to prevent the spread of the fire before finding an appropriate solution to extinguish them.

Generally, active and passive fire protection systems are essential for total fire safety in residential, commercial and industrial spaces. They both work collectively to ensure the early detection and proper response to fires, thereby saving lives and reducing the risks of property damage. The choice of the particular active and passive fire protection systems to buy for a building will mainly depend on the potential fire threats, areas to be protected, fire safety regulations Singapore and your budget.

In case you are having problems choosing between active and passive fire protection, talk to Fire Safety Singapore for assistance. We offer custom QP consultancy services for home owners, businesses and industrial establishments Singapore.