top of page
Website Background.png
  • Writer's pictureLee Frost

Understanding Fire Compartmentation

A picture of an Ecosafe Group employee installing a fireproofing curtain.

Fire compartmentation is a critical fire protection strategy used in building construction to preserve life, by containing fires or slowing the spread of fire and smoke for a while. This technique involves dividing a building into several fire-tight compartments through fire-resistant walls and floors. The main goal of fire compartmentation is to limit the amount of damage caused by a fire and to provide occupants with enough time to safely evacuate the premises. 

What is Compartmentation in Fire Safety? 

Fire compartmentation involves dividing a building into manageable 'compartments' using fire-resistant materials. This segregation helps manage fire risks more effectively by containing and suppressing fires within limited areas, thereby safeguarding occupants, and the property. 

The definition according to the UK's Approved Document B is: “A building or part of a building comprising one or more rooms, spaces or storeys constructed to prevent the spread of fire to or from another part of the same building or an adjoining building.” 

The Importance of Fire Compartmentation 

Fire compartmentation plays a crucial role in preventing the spread of fire and smoke within a building. Here’s how it works: 


  • Sub-Dividing Rooms: Compartmentation involves dividing rooms into separate compartments using fire-resistant walls and floors. These barriers are designed to withstand fire for a specified duration (typically between 30 minutes and 120 minutes). 

  • Life Safety: For life safety, compartmentation protects escape routes (such as corridors, stairwells, and lobbies) by slowing down the spread of fire and smoke. Occupants have more time to evacuate before escape routes become compromised. 

  • Property Protection: It also limits fire spread to the location of origin. For instance, it protects areas with high financial or strategic value (like IT suites or server rooms). By containing the fire, it prevents damage to other parts of the building. 

  • Firefighters’ Safety: Fire compartmentation reduces risks for firefighters by controlling fire progression. It ensures that they can operate in safer conditions during emergencies. 

How Fire Compartmentation Works 

Fire compartmentation involves a combination of materials and construction techniques that can withstand fire for a specified period, typically ranging from 30 minutes to several hours. Key elements include: 

  • Fire-resisting walls and floors: These are constructed to achieve a specific fire resistance rating and are crucial for forming compartments. 

  • Fire doors: Specially designed doors that prevent the spread of fire and smoke while allowing for safe egress. 

  • Intumescent seals: These expand when exposed to heat, sealing off gaps to prevent the passage of fire and smoke. 

Key Areas for Fire Compartmentation 

Walls and Ceilings 

Each compartment is bounded by walls and ceilings constructed with fire-resistant materials, supplemented by cavity barriers to seal any voids and prevent fire and smoke passage. This construction not only seals gaps but also insulates to prevent heat transference, which can spread fire. 

HVAC Systems 

HVAC systems, often sprawling throughout a building, must have fire dampers that close automatically in response to heat and fire-resistant measures for ducts and pipes. Specialised materials, including intumescent solutions and fire collars, are used to ensure these systems do not become conduits for fire spread. 

The Primary Goal of Fire Compartmentation 

The overarching aim of fire compartmentation is to localise a fire within a building. This confinement provides critical time for occupants to evacuate safely and for fire services to respond effectively. Additionally, compartmentation helps protect valuable or hazardous areas within a building, such as data centers or industrial sections. 


Updated Fire Compartmentation Regulations 

The landscape of fire safety regulations in the UK has seen significant updates with the introduction of The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which came into effect on 23 January 2023. These regulations implemented the majority of the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry's Phase 1 report, necessitating changes in the law to enhance the safety of residential buildings, particularly blocks of flats. 

Key Aspects of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 

For high-rise residential buildings (buildings at least 18 metres in height or comprising 7 or more storeys), the regulations mandate: 

  • Information Sharing: Responsible persons must electronically share details about the building’s external wall systems with their local fire and rescue service (FRS). They are also required to provide electronic copies of floor and building plans. 

  • Accessibility: Hard copies of floor plans and a single-page building orientation plan must be kept in a secure information box accessible to firefighters. Additionally, the contact details of the responsible person must be included. 

  • Visibility Enhancements: Installation of wayfinding signage that is visible in low light conditions is required in all high-rise buildings. 

  • Equipment and Facility Checks: Monthly checks on firefighter lifts and essential firefighting equipment are compulsory, with immediate reporting to the FRS if such facilities are out of order for more than 24 hours. 

For multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height, the regulations require: 

  • Door Checks: Quarterly checks on all communal fire doors and annual checks on flat entrance doors must be undertaken by responsible persons. 

Across all multi-occupied residential buildings, responsible persons are also tasked with: 

  • Safety Information Distribution: Providing residents with relevant fire safety instructions and emphasising the importance of maintaining fire doors. 

Broader Implications 

The Fire Safety Act clarified that the Fire Safety Order applies to structures, external walls, including cladding and balconies, and individual flat entrance doors linking domestic premises with common parts. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, underpinned by article 24 of the Fire Safety Order, impose new duties regarding these areas, solidifying the legal responsibilities of building managers and owners. 

These changes are part of a broader effort to improve the fire safety of buildings in practical, cost-effective ways that are proportionate to the risk of fire. They emphasise the necessity of keeping up-to-date with the latest fire safety practices, ensuring buildings are not only compliant but also offer maximum safety to occupants and responders in emergencies. 


Ecosafe Group's Approach to Fire Compartmentation 

At Ecosafe Group, we pride ourselves on delivering bespoke fire compartmentation solutions that adhere strictly to UK building regulations. Our comprehensive services include: 

  • Implementation: Using top-grade materials and skilled installation to ensure robust fire safety measures. 

  • Maintenance and Compliance: Regular inspections and adjustments to maintain integrity and compliance with all fire safety standards. 


Our Top Products 


Our team of expert passive firestoppers ensure safe and compliant firestopping is implemented across all of our sites. Here are some of their top products that they use daily:


Contact Ecosafe Group 

We work with a whole host of companies and councils across the UK to provide excellent fire safety services. To learn more about our full range of services visit here. Contact or call Liam on 01202 017917 with any questions that you may have.



bottom of page