Passive fire protection systems exist to control and contain a fire without the immediate need of a person’s intervention. There are many components that make up a passive fire protection system, each playing its own part in the safeguarding of a building from fire. One of those components is the fire collar. Also known as a firestop collar or pipe collar, these devices form part of a fire stopping penetration system, which exists to prevent the spread of fire, smoke, and hot gases between compartments or through openings in walls, floors, or ceilings. In this article we’ll explore the design characteristics of fire collars, how they work and the role they play in a fire stopping penetration system.

What are fire stopping penetrations

Fire stopping penetrations play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and integrity of buildings in the event of a fire. Most rooms in buildings feature openings for pipes, cables, and ducts. These voids or penetrations create potential pathways for fire and smoke to spread from one area to another if a fire breaks out. Fire stopping penetrations fireproof those voids to contain the fire within its designated compartment, preventing rapid spread, minimising property damage and allowing occupants to safely evacuate.

Fire collars are installed around the pipes, conduits, or cables that pass through these fire-rated walls or floors. They consist of a metal or plastic collar that surrounds the penetrations, along with an intumescent material inside the collar. The intumescent material is usually a graphite-based compound or a combination of materials that expand when exposed to heat, creating a barrier that seals the opening and prevents fire from spreading.

Fire collars can be fitted either before or after a building project is complete, and fall within passive fire protection, meaning that they don’t need mechanical or electrical operation to activate.

The role of fire stopping penetrations in compartmentation

The key aim of fireproofing is to contain a fire within a space, and ensure it doesn’t spread. Fire stopping penetrations ensure the integrity of compartmentalisation within a building by stopping the spread of fire through any penetrations of walls, flooring or roofing within that compartment. Depending on the wall system and determined Fire Resistance Level (FRL), collars can prevent the fire from spreading for upwards of 120 minutes in a fire.

What are fire collars made of?

Fire collars are circular fireproofing products that are fitted around penetrating pipes, designed to stop the spread of fire and smoke. Fire collars are stereotypically made of stainless steel, mild steel or PVC/plastic and contain an inner lining of intumescent material, a substance that swells as a result of heat exposure.

How do fire collars work?

The intumescent in a fire collar is designed to swell in response to heat exposure, which then increases its volume and decreases its density. In high heat, pipes will melt, creating larger openings. The material within a fire collar then forms a hard char, which swells to plug the gap in and around a penetration. The metal shell that encloses the intumescent material stops it from expanding outwards, containing it within its circular form.

What are the different types of fire collars?

There are two different types of fire collars –

Cast-in Fire Collars

These fire collars are fixed into the formwork of a structure before any concrete is poured, resulting in a fixed fireproofing solution. Where possible, these are highly recommended to be installed as it saves labour and costs during the construction process.

Retrofit Fire Collars

The most common fire collars, retrofit fire collars are designed to be installed after a pipe has been fitted. These fire collars need to match the pipe size to completely encase the part of the pipe that passes through the wall/floor/ceiling as well as be exactly as per the test report for the product.

Finding the right fire collar

Selecting the correct fire collar for a fire stopping penetration requires the consideration of factors including the type of pipe it needs to fit, the aperture size of the pipe and the required fire resistance rating of the entire fireproofing system. Fire collars come in a variety of sizes and fire ratings, allowing the effective installation of a fire stopping penetration on any project.

Fireproofing with professionals

Fire stopping penetrations play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and integrity of buildings in the event of a fire. The fire collar is an important component within those fireproofing systems. Ultimately, the result of an effectively installed fireproofing system is that people are kept safe, and losses of assets and buildings are reduced. This makes every component of a fire stopping penetration an integral one.

As leaders in the fireproofing field, PROFINISH has a proven track record of expertly installing passive fire protection systems in buildings of all sizes. We are frequently called to a site to assess and audit the work of other contractors. On numerous occasions, we observe insufficient or incorrect usage of fixings, improper collars for the service type, or, the absence of any passive fire protection installed at all.

Get in touch with one of our specialists today to ensure that your passive fire protection needs are in the hands of an expert.