What is the difference between active and passive fire protection?

The main difference between active and passive fire protection is whether or not they require a machine or human intervention to activate in the event of a fire. The second biggest difference is that active fire measures detect and fight fires, whereas passive measures contain and slow a fire’s spread.

What is Active Fire Protection?

Active Fire Protection (AFP) is where a singular system or a group of systems detect and attempts to put out a fire. Active measures require some amount of human or machine intervention in order to work in the event of a fire. Active fire protection may be manually operated, like a fire extinguisher or automated such as sprinklers, but either way, they require some amount of action.

What is Passive Fire Protection?

Passive fire protection (PFP) is the elements or parts comprising a building or structure which hinder or decelerate the propagation of flames or smoke without any active system intervention, and typically remain stationary are referred to as passive fire measures. These measures don’t need any human or electronic input and can include fire-resistant barriers like fire doors and cladding, or heat-activated substances such as intumescent paint or putty pads. Later in this piece, we will outline the prevalent forms of passive fire protection measures.

What fire protection measures are considered Active?

An active fire system is a series of remedial measures. The active system takes an offensive stance if a fire starts.

An active fire system will usually consist of but is not limited to:

image of a fire extinguisher as an example of an actvie fire protection method

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers represent the ultimate solution for active fire protection in small businesses. They are suitable for extinguishing small fires and should be readily available in all types of premises, including offices, commercial establishments, and residential buildings. It’s important to ensure their stability and accessibility in case of an emergency.



A standpipe is a vertical pipe or column used to provide a reliable source of water for firefighting or other emergency purposes. Standpipes are typically installed in tall buildings, such as high-rise apartments, office buildings, and hotels, where access to water from a fire hydrant or other external source may be difficult or impractical.

Alarm Points

Alarm Points

Alarm points are an essential component of active fire protection systems. These devices are strategically placed throughout a building to detect changes in conditions or events that may indicate the presence of a fire. When activated, alarm points trigger the fire alarm system, alerting building occupants and emergency services to the potential danger. Alarms can be triggered automatically or manually depending on which method detects fire first.

Sprinkler Sytems

Sprinkler Sytems

Sprinkler systems are active fire protection system that is designed to suppress or extinguish fires in buildings. These systems consist of pipes linked to a water tank that is installed throughout a building, with sprinkler heads placed in strategic locations to deliver water in the event of a fire.

What fire protection measures are considered Passive?

image of a fire doors as an example of an passive fire protection method

Fire Doors

Fire doors are an essential part of any passive fire protection plan. In the event of a fire, fire doors act as a barrier between each room of residential or commercial premises. By implementing fire doors it will take longer for fire or smoke to cross between areas in the building.

Intumescent Mastic Seals

Intumescent Mastic Seals

Intumescent mastic seals are designed to expand when exposed to extreme temperatures. By expanding they form a thick protective barrier which assists in preventing the spread of both flames and smoke.

Intumescent Paint on steel framework

Intumescent Paint

Intumescent paint is a layer of liquid that is coated across structural parts of a building and is designed to expand under extreme temperatures. By expanding in size intumescent paint provides a layer of protection between the fire and the element it protects.

putty pads on a concrete wall

Putty Pads

Putty pads are specifically designed to preserve the fire resistance and acoustic integrity of dry-lining partitions. These partitions are ordinarily where electrical socket boxes are installed. These pads not only increase fire safety resistance but have the added benefit of providing soundproofing between rooms and reducing air leakage. This can result in decreased energy usage.

What is better Active or passive fire protection?

There is no way to assign a value of better or worse to active and passive fire protection as they both offer different protections. As we have covered in this article, active fire measures are about detecting and extinguishing a fire, whereas passive is about containing fire and limiting damage to structural components.

When considering the best way to protect your staff, property and business you will need to consider both active and passive prevention methods in tandem.

How to select what fire prevention measures you require?

Your choice of firefighting media is one of the most important choices you will make when ensuring the effectiveness of your firefighting solution.

There are so many different types of fires, and the key to a good fire solution is the knowledge to anticipate what fires could start where, at Firestoppers that is what we specialise in. We can tell you what your risks are and what the best product is to combat the threat.

To best understand your needs, a business should have what’s called a fire protection survey. Within this survey, your chosen fire protection specialist will advise you on how best to protect your, staff, property and business.

Within this audit, your chosen provider will identify the areas where your fire protection needs improvement, offer solutions and ultimately quote you for the work. A fire survey is something that should be done annually as all fire protection solutions expire and become less effective. Additionally, every year new more effective technologies are invented/released It is important to ensure your building or residential premises are kept up to code, not just from a safety perspective but a legal one also.

image of fire protection system maintenance

Fire protection system maintenance

Just as important as having a system, is the upkeep of the equipment – the most effective way to maintain your system’s readiness is through Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM). Supplementary to regular ITM tests, you should also carry out regular maintenance on the equipment.

It is of paramount importance to only use accredited fire protection specialists to review and maintain your fire protection system.

If you would like us to offer any advice on the upkeep of your system or want to consider a new system entirely, then contact us today.

What are Performance Fire Protection System

Performance-based fire safety is achieved by applying calculations, science, and engineering to determine how a building would respond to fire this is done to categorically show customers what must be done to provide optimal protection.

Traditional fire protection is implemented by considering the building type, size and utility and ensuring that the building meets a checklist of fire safety precautions.

Although for most businesses the traditional method would be sufficient a particularly large company may opt for performance-based fire safety.

When selecting a Fire Protection company, it’s paramount for the provider to be certified and to prove they have worked on similar projects in the past.

To speak with industry leader Firestoppers today, click here to book a callback.

Installation of Fire Protection Systems

The thought of installing an all-encompassing fire stopper solution can feel like a daunting prospect, but at Fire Stoppers, we are well-versed in working around business requirements. 

We will first meet you to establish your requirements then we will conduct a site survey to ensure the system we recommend will either sit in synergy with existing measures already in place then we will provide you with a concept of design and a quote upon acceptance, we will get to work, working around your peak hours and limiting, where possible, ourselves to one area at a time to avoid any disruptionOnce the system is installed, we will carry out, and tests requiredFinally, upon completing the project, watch your stress reduce along with your insurance premiums!

Active vs Passive Fire Protection: Summary

To sum up, both active and passive fire protection measures play vital roles in protecting people and property from the effects of fire and smoke damage.

Active fire protection is focused on detecting and extinguishing fires, while passive fire protection is targeted at containing fires to prevent them from spreading.

To determine the best fire protection solution for your business or residential premises, it is essential to have a fire protection survey conducted by a professional provider.

Additionally, regular maintenance and inspection of fire protection systems are crucial to ensuring their effectiveness.

Therefore, it is important to select a certified fire protection company with experience in similar projects to ensure the best possible protection for your staff, property, and business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by active fire protection?

Active Fire Protection (AFP) is a group of systems that require some amount of action or motion in order to work efficiently in the event of a fire

What is an example of a passive fire protection system?

Examples of passive fire protection include fire doors, fire walls, fire floors, emergency exit lights, dampers, flame shields, intumescent paint, mortar, coating, mineral fibre matting, protection of muster/refuge points, and spray fireproofing

What are the two types of fire protection?

Active and passive fire protection work independently but together to provide comprehensive coverage for your facility.

Passive Fire Protection Installers

Firestoppers has helped countless individuals and companies reduce liability, insurance, and stress by installing state-of-the-art passive and active fire solutions.

If you have a dated solution in place or need a new system altogether, Firestoppers should be your first point of call.

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