There are many types of fire collars, as well as a range of fixings used to install them effectively. In addition, every fireproofing system needs to have been tested to receive a certification before it can be installed into a building. Knowing and understanding the ins and outs of fire collars, and what affects their effectiveness is imperative. This article covers some key information about fire collars and what to look out for to ensure they are tested and installed effectively.

What is a fire collar and how does it work?

A fire collar is a component of a fireproofing system. Fire collars are designed to protect penetrations or the point at which a service enters a fire compartment’s walls or ceilings. Fire collars are usually installed around the pipes or cables that pass through fire-rated substrates. They consist of a metal collar that surrounds the penetrations and contains an intumescent material inside them, which expands when exposed to heat, creating a barrier that seals the opening and prevents fire, smoke and gases from spreading.

Why are fire collars an important part of fireproofing?

Fire collars play a large role in mitigating the spread of fire, smoke and toxic fumes and gases from one compartment to another in the event of a fire. They are an effective element in giving the inhabitants of a building more time to evacuate, as well as decreasing the potential damage caused by a fire to the building and its contents. Finally, they aid in reducing the size of a fire, which benefits firefighters who have to extinguish the fire. The National Construction Code (NCC) states that any penetrations caused by services need to be fireproofed so that the Fire Resistance Level (FRL) of the building element being penetrated is not compromised.

Testing fire collars

Fire collars are installed to ensure that any penetrations caused by services are fireproofed. Before fire collars and any other fireproofing system can be installed, they need to be tested by an approved laboratory to ensure they meet the requirements needed for the building to receive its compliance certificate from the NCC.

A building will only comply with NCC if it satisfies the Deemed-to-Satisfy Performance Requirement. The requirements for service penetrations can be found in N.C.C. Vol.1: Section C3.15. All fire-rated service penetrations also need to follow the Australian standards AS1530.4 2014 and AS4072.1 2005. They require an identical prototype of the proposed fireproofing penetration system to have been tested to ensure that the fire resistance level is not compromised. These tests need to be carried out by an accredited testing laboratory such as BRANZ, CSIRO or Warrington Fire.

The results of the tests are then documented in a Test Report. It is recommended that the report is referenced when the fireproofing system is being installed, to ensure that everything is installed correctly and effectively.

Know the different fixings

It is imperative that you understand which fixings to use when installing fire collars. Different fixings respond differently based on the material they are made from, and the type of fire collar they are securing. In the event of a fire, incorrect fixings, such as nylon anchors, won’t hold the fire collar in place and the FRL will no longer apply to the entire fire stopping penetration. Refer to this technical note for further clarity on the different types of fixings and which fixings you should not use.

Effective installation

Seeking a professional fireproofing specialist is always recommended when installing fire collars. Too often, fireproofing systems are installed during a build and are damaged or made ineffective because of materials, including concrete slurry. Another issue often seen on a building site is that fire collars are installed without the use of caulking or sealants. This means that the fire collar is ineffective because, without a sealant, smoke and gases can easily make their way through the voids between the piping and the penetration opening. In these cases, the fire collars need to be replaced and reinstalled for the building to receive its certificate of compliance. Finally, many fire collars are painted with non-intumescent paint after being installed, rendering them ineffective.

Fireproofing experts

Fire collars are an important part of a fireproofing system, and because they are so important in maintaining the FRL of a building, they should always be installed by a professional. Since fire safety is such a crucial factor to any building, it’s recommended that a professional team is brought in to ensure that all fireproofing installations are done correctly, meaning a more streamlined project and the confidence in knowing that all certifications will be handled.

PROFINISH are leaders in the passive fire field, with significant experience in installing fire collars and every other passive fire system. Contact a member of our expert team today, and let us take care of all your fireproofing requirements.