Fire Protection Design in Commercial Buildings

A fire safety system must be appropriately designed and installed in a building to safeguard people and valuables in an emergency. Building laws and standards provide for the public safety of structures by requiring building owners to conduct a fire risk assessment with the help of an NJ structural engineer. This assessment considers every aspect of fire safety, including the building’s design and construction.

Each type of building construction is made of different building components, which vary in fire resistance. The fire rating of firewalls, non-bearing exterior walls, partitions, shaft enclosures, and openings in walls, floors, divisions, and roofs are governed by different standards and regulations. The ASTM E119 and ANSI/UL 263 test standards provide the rating of construction assemblies. Each grade determines how long a component can withstand fire exposure before it collapses.

A building component with a 2-hour fire rating can endure fire exposure for at least two hours. Assemblies with a fire rating of 0 will collapse in under an hour. 

Interconnected assemblies can be strategically set up to create a passive fire protection system. This system is integrated into a building’s design and construction. It involves designing fire-rated floors, ceilings, and walls to prevent smoke and fire from quickly moving throughout the building. 

A typical compartmentation system comprises connected fire-rated doors and walls to keep the fire contained in one area. Fire-rated walls and doors are designed to prevent the fire from spreading horizontally in a building. Fire ratings for doors are typically lower than the wall’s fire rating as furnishings and other fixtures that fuel the fire are not usually in front of the door.

Building codes provide the ideal design, installation, and maintenance of building fire protection systems. Conducting a commercial building inspection NJ can verify the proper construction of fire-rated assemblies and compliance with rules and regulations set by the government. 

A building owner must have the building’s fire protection system routinely inspected. Various trades can often compromise this, such as modifications leaving open penetrations in fire-rated assemblies.

For more details about fire protection design in commercial buildings, here is an infographic by Lockatong Engineering.



Written by