Whether you are building a new property, making structural alterations to an existing building, or simply looking to make a property safe; fire protection should always be at the forefront of your thoughts. There are various products and technologies available on the market that can help to prevent fire and prevent them from spreading should they occur. All of these fall into the category of either active or passive fire protection. However, unless you work in a related industry, there is a real chance that you aren’t too sure which particular category covers which products. Hopefully we can help to clear up some of this confusion.

Active fire protection

Active fire protection systems are ones that actually react to a fire and seek to either inform that the fire is occurring, or put the fire out, such as:

  • Water sprinklers
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Smoke alarms

Whilst these examples are all mechanical systems, active fire protection products do also include ones that are manually operated, such as fire extinguishers, hoses and blankets. The important detail, whether mechanical or manual, is that they all involve some form of movement or reaction – thus they are active.

Passive fire protection

When it comes to passive fire protection, the products are aimed more at supressing and containing the fire for as long as possible, until the fire service is able to gain control of the blaze. They help to protect the integrity of the building, which serves to allow occupants longer to escape, whilst also protecting the emergency services from the likelihood of collapse.


The products used in passive fire protection are aimed at preventing the spread of fire through walls, floors and doors. As such, passive fire protection tends to focus on integral construction fabrics, which are included during the building process. Perhaps the best and most well-known example of a passive fire product is Promat DURASTEEL®, which is a panel of composite fibre reinforced cement, which is bonded on either side with sheets of steel.

Whilst passive fire protection can still have a part to play in residential properties, it is commercial settings where it is of most benefit. Such buildings are of course very expensive to build and it is essential that their integrity is protected in the event of a fire. Otherwise the cost of rebuilding or repairing the building could be huge. On the human safety side, the size of commercial settings means that passive fire protection systems are more important because of the additional time it can take to exit the property.