Passive vs Active Fire Protection: What’s the Difference?

How to Create a Wildfire Evacuation Plan
August 10, 2021
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Passive vs Active Fire Protection: What’s the Difference?

Fires can be devastating, and as wildfires become more and more frequent throughout the United States, it’s important for homeowners and business owners to understand what steps they can take to protect their homes against these catastrophes. To protect your property from fire, the first step is to implement a fire protection system. Generally speaking, there are two types of fire protection systems: passive and active fire protection. These systems work together to help prevent ignition and stop or contain active fires. To better understand the differences between these types of systems, let’s take a closer look at passive vs. active fire protection.

Protect your home from wildfire by installing a Frontline Wildfire Defense exterior sprinkler system. For more information, contact us today for a free consultation.

What is Passive Fire Protection?

Passive fire protection is meant to prevent or reduce the spread of fires throughout a building. Instead of actively working to prevent and suppress fires, passive fire protection systems aim to contain fires to their original location.

Passive fire protection materials are often built directly into buildings. This can include using fire-resistant building materials to construct walls, floors, and other building features, or using dual-pane windows and fire-rated glass for fixtures. This can be combined with fire curtains, smoke baffles, and other passive fire protection materials to reduce fire spread potential.

Together, these materials help keep fires to a small, contained area. This reduces the overall damage caused by fires and makes them easier for active fire suppression systems or firefighters to put out fires.

For homeowners, passive fire protection may also include creating a defensible space around your home. This includes regular landscaping to keep shrubbery under control, and regularly trimming tree branches to create more space between vegetation. You should also remove flammable items from directly around your property to make it more difficult for fires to spread to your home.

Passive fire protection systems should be installed throughout your entire property— particularly in areas that are prone to smoke and fires (e.g. kitchens, laundry rooms, etc.).

What is Active Fire Protection?

Active fire protection systems are meant to directly combat fires and attempt to suppress them.  This can include manual systems, like fire extinguishers, that a person can use to combat fires, or automatic systems, like sprinkler systems, that deploy once smoke or fire is detected.

Common types of active fire protection include:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Smoke detectors
  • Smoke ventilation
  • Fire alarms
  • Fire hydrants
  • Fire hoses

While some of these, like fire hydrants and fire hoses, are used by fire departments to suppress active fires, others, like sprinklers, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers, can be easily included in residential and commercial buildings to give occupants tools to protect themselves and their property.

When installing active fire protection systems, it’s important to consider the size of the building and the number of people that it holds. For example, large apartment buildings may need smoke detectors in each apartment, hallway, and stairway. Larger buildings will also need more sprinkler heads installed throughout the building.

You should also consider installing additional active systems in areas that are prone to fires. For example, your home kitchen should have a smoke detector alongside a fire extinguisher to suppress any fires created while cooking.

Do You Need Both?

Both active and passive fire protection systems play important roles in protecting buildings and occupants against fires. While active fire protection tools help contain and suppress fires, they can only do so much. Depending on the cause and location of the fire, it may not be possible to suppress it completely with the active systems installed in the building.

When this happens, it’s important to have passive fire protection systems in place to help reduce the spread of the fire and give occupants enough time to evacuate safely. Whenever possible, fire-resistant materials should be used during construction, and older buildings should be retrofitted with smoke curtains, fire-rated glass, and similar materials.

To optimize the safety of your home or business, both active and passive fire protection systems should be utilized.

Protect Your Home from Wildfire

The Frontline Wildfire Defense exterior sprinkler system can protect your home from wildfire with:

  • Remote activation for 24/7 protection from anywhere
  • Built-in battery backup and satellite communication
  • Environmentally friendly, biodegradable Class A foam
  • Municipal, well, pool, and emergency water tank supply options
  • Wildfire tracking and remote system activation using the Frontline app

For more information on how Frontline Wildfire Defense can help safeguard your home, contact us today for a free consultation.