Passive fireproofing is a cornerstone of building safety, and investing in quality fire protection measures is not just about meeting regulatory requirements, but prioritising the safety and well-being of a building’s occupants. Local codes and regulations require fireproofing systems to be routinely inspected. In many cases, similar findings are identified. In this article, we’ll explore them, and offer solutions for each one, to ensure that any building you are involved with is up to code and safe to inhabit.

Common Inspection Findings

Compromised firewalls and partitions

When firewalls or partitions are compromised, they are no longer effective fire barriers and will allow fire, smoke and heat to spread beyond designated areas. This can result in the rapid escalation of a fire, posing a significant threat to life safety and property.

Compromised firewalls also undermine the effectiveness of evacuation routes and emergency response procedures, since the intended containment of fire and smoke cannot be relied on. Finally, and possibly most importantly, uncontained fire compromises the structural integrity of a building, increasing the risk of collapse in the event of a fire.

Restoring a Fire Wall’s Integrity

Restoring a fire wall’s integrity involves repairing or replacing damaged sections of the fire wall and ensuring all penetration systems are correctly sealed to maintain their effectiveness as fire barriers. It is always recommended that a professional passive fireproofing team is brought on, not only for their expertise in installations, but because they are well across current building regulations and standards as well.

Here are the best practice techniques experts will carry out, to restore firewall integrity –

Patching and sealing

Repairing any cracks, holes, or damage to the firewall with fire-rated materials restores its structural integrity. This includes patching with fire-resistant compounds and sealing gaps around penetrations to prevent fire and smoke spread.

Retrofitting firestop systems

The team will then upgrade all existing firestop systems to ensure proper compartmentation has been achieved, and the building complies with fire safety standards.

Replacing Damaged Sections

In the case of extensively damaged firewalls, experts will replace sections or entire panels with fire-rated boards to maintain fire resistance ratings.

Faulty or missing sealants

In many cases, inspection findings include faulty sealants or places that lack sealant altogether. This is usually due to factors including wear and tear, poor installation or lack of maintenance. While seemingly minor, these voids provide pathways for the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic gases between compartments or floors, compromising the effectiveness of all other fire containment measures. Inadequate sealing will also impact a building’s overall fire resistance levels, potentially resulting in non-compliance with fire safety regulations and building codes. In addition, voids in sealants can allow water ingress during a leak or any fire suppression efforts, leading to significant damage to walling flooring and all other internal non-visible building materials.

Sealant Application Best Practices

To avoid this issue, these are the fire sealant best practices to follow –

Selection of sealant

In many cases, fire safety is seen as an opportunity to save money by underspending and using non-compliant sealants. It’s important that you choose a quality fire-rated sealant that meets the requirements of relevant fire codes and standards for the relevant system. When choosing a sealant, consider factors such as the fire resistance rating, movement capability, and compatibility with substrates.

Surface preparation

This step is overlooked, causing what would have been a successful installation to become completely ineffective. When applying fire sealants, clean the surface thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust, grease, or other contaminants, ensuring that the surface is dry and free from any loose material that could interfere with adhesion.

Joint preparation 

It is vitally important to inspect joints for any voids, cracks, or irregularities. To create a proper sealant depth and prevent three-point adhesion, it is recommended that you use backer rods or bond-breaking tape before applying the fire sealant depending on the aperture size.

Professional application

Fire sealants need to be applied using a caulking gun or another suitable applicator tool. When applying sealant, ensure that the sealant fills the entire joint or gap evenly without air pockets or voids. Once applied, smooth the sealant to achieve proper adhesion and a clean finish.

Curing time

It is important to allow adequate time for the sealant to cure before subjecting it to any stress or movement. The correct amount of curing time may be allocated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While curing, avoid exposing the sealant to moisture or other environmental factors that could affect the curing process.


While often overlooked, keeping detailed records of the sealant installation, including product specifications, application techniques, curing times, and test results,  demonstrates compliance with fire codes and standards and provides a helpful record of maintenance activities for future reference. This task should be completed in line with AS 4072.1

Inadequate Firestopping Materials

Another significantly common finding is inadequate fire stopping materials in passive fire protection systems. This issue is usually characterised by the use of non-compliant materials being used, which poses significant challenges to safety, as well as the compliance of the building.

Non-compliant materials lack the necessary fire resistance properties to effectively contain fire and smoke, leading to breaches in fire barriers and compromising compartmentation within the building. This increases the risk of fire spread and can result in extensive damage to property and endanger occupants’ safety.

The use of inappropriate materials will also lead to non-compliance with fire safety regulations and building codes, potentially resulting in legal repercussions and liabilities for building owners and managers.

Updating Firestopping Materials

Updating fire stopping materials in a building with insufficient fireproofing involves several steps. It is always recommended that a professional fireproofing expert is utilised.

The first part of the process is assessing the existing fire stopping materials and identifying areas that require improvement.

An expert will then choose the appropriate fire stopping materials based on the specific fire risks and building requirements. They will consider factors such as FRL  resistance, flexibility, and compatibility with other building materials.

Once the materials are selected, the team will follow the manufacturer’s specific guidelines for application to ensure effective installation. Proper application will not only ensure that the building is now safe, but will also mean full compliance with fire safety standards as well.

Preventative measures and maintenance 

Here are the most effective ways to ensure that a building’s fireproofing systems will not fall victim to the common issues mentioned above –

Routine maintenance

Regular maintenance of fireproofing systems ensures that fireproofing materials remain intact and effective, preserving the fire resistance rating of the building elements they protect. Investing in regular maintenance of fireproofing systems can also lead to long-term cost savings by avoiding the need for costly repairs or replacements in the event of a fire.

Collaboration with Fire Safety Experts:

Partnering with certified fire safety professionals offers assurance and expertise in ensuring the compliance and effectiveness of passive fire protection systems. These specialists bring specialised knowledge and experience, conducting thorough assessments to pinpoint vulnerabilities and recommend targeted upgrades. They are then able to carry out the meticulous upgrades required to bring a building up to code, while documenting the entire process.

Staying Updated with Fire Safety Regulations

Staying informed about the latest fire safety laws and building codes requires a proactive approach to ongoing education and engagement. One way to keep abreast of these developments is to regularly review updates and publications from relevant regulatory bodies, such as the Fire Protection Association (FPA) and local building code authorities. Ultimately, there is no better approach to fireproofing than to seek the assistance of experts, who pride themselves in their knowledge of the latest fireproofing solutions.

Staying ahead of the game 

Passive fire protection is indispensable for building safety, regulatory adherence and the safeguarding of building inhabitants. Although the best practices mentioned above will ensure effective and efficient installation of fireproofing, seeking the assistance of a professional team will always be the most recommended approach to fireproofing a new or existing building. By collaborating with fire safety experts, staying abreast of regulations, and implementing preventative measures, buildings will remain fully compliant and safe to occupy.

“PROFINISH Fire Protection works off the three pillars of passive fire protection: Design, Build and Document. We pride ourselves on early intervention, as the earlier in a project we’re involved, the more time and cost we can save for our clients.” Jayden Symes – Sales and Estimating Manager

To overcome these, and any other fire safety issues, contact a member of the PROFINISH team today.