When going through an engineering or even a general contractor’s scope of work or budget, you might come across two line items that may seem redundant: Fire Proofing and Fire Protection. Aren’t these the same thing? How could they be different? Read further to learn the difference between these two practices:
Fire protection refers to active equipment that is installed to slow a fire from spreading. It is equipment that is activated by fire or by smoke and works to contain the spread of a fire. Fire protection includes equipment such as alarms, sprinklers, and systems such as dampers and smoke screens. Dampers are installed inside of a wall and look similar to a vent. The damper will detect smoke, and then work to stop the flow of the smoke. Similarly, smoke screens are installed (and often required) in spaces that are over 3 stories in height. An open atrium would benefit from a smoke screen. The screen looks like a piece of glass that hangs from the ceiling; often the glass is barely noticeable. These pieces prevent a “chimney effect” when there is a smoke in multi-level space.
Fire proofing is the practice of rendering something (like a material, a wall, a safe, etc.) as resistant to fire or incombustible. It is a passive fire protection measure. Materials can be treated to be fire proofed. For instance, fire resistance can be sprayed on steel to provide heat resistance. Fire proofing substances can also be applied to wood, fabric and other materials. Both fire proofing and fire protection aim to slow the spread of a fire. However, the key difference with fire proofing, is that it is an inactive measure. A material or item is treated with a substance to create fire resistance.