In the year ending March 2009, there were approximately 75,000 fires in UK buildings, resulting in some 350 lives lost and about 10,000 non-fatal injuries. In addition, the annual cost in lost property and lost business is several billion pounds, making it vital to keep buildings as fire-safe as possible.

A critical weakness can be the penetration of fire compartment walls and floors by building services such as cables, pipes and ductwork, including dampers. Because ductwork is specifically designed to distribute air around a building, the potential for fire spread via a ductwork system is of particular concern. A fire attacking any such system that is not designed and installed properly has the potential to spread fire, smoke and toxic gases extremely rapidly throughout a building, with major consequences for the structure and consequently, life safety.

The latest "Good Building Guide", published by the BRE (Building Research Establishment) and entitled "Installing fire-resisting ductwork & dampers" (GBG 81), is therefore very welcome", comments Bob Chapman of established fire-resistant ductwork system manufacturer, Fire Protection Ltd (FPL).

The new publication (available from BRE - Email: or, is designed to illustrate the importance of installing fire-resisting ductwork and dampers correctly, to ensure the safety of building occupants and the protection of the property, in the event of a fire. It includes some key fundamentals for the guidance of specifiers, manufacturers, contractors and approval authorities, together with a checklist decision tree and useful references to more comprehensive documents.

The Guide also stresses the benefits of good quality, robust third a party certification schemes. Such schemes include regular audits of factory production control for the product and review the supporting test and assessment evidence for the systems, to ensure they continue to meet the appropriate standards. In the absence of such schemes, there will always be doubt as to whether the product tested is the same as the product/system currently being marketed.

"This commendable document emphasises important installation factors in the use of these critical building components", comments FPL's Bob Chapman. "The correct choice and installation of damper and fire resistant ductwork is vital in protecting and maintaining adequate levels of compartmentation under fire conditions. This is a pre-requisite for controlling internal fire spread, protecting means of escape and affording access protection for Fire Services".

FPL's Flamebar BW11 fire-resistant ductwork system is constructed from galvanised sheet steel, sprayed with a specially formulated water-based fire protective compound. The unique BW11 coating provides a number of distinct benefits that include the provision of in excess of 2 hours insulation when handling internal gas temperatures of 400°C. Flamebar BW11 has been successfully tested for international use, under cellulosic fire conditions, to give in excess of four hours fire resistance in the event of a fire. It can confidently be specified and installed for smoke extract, car park extract, kitchen extract, and stair pressurisation systems.

  • 17 May 2011

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