What is a fire compartmentation survey and why are they so important?

19 December 2022

What do we mean by fire compartmentation?

Fire compartmentation is defined as: “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.” 

This means that certain buildings, particularly those where there is a sleeping risk such as care homes, hotels and flats, are designed and constructed in such a way as to prevent the spread of fire and smoke from one part of the building to another, this is known as “compartmentation.” This is achieved by constructing fire compartment walls, ceilings and floors in such a way that prevents fire spread. The aim is to ensure that if a fire breaks out in a particular area of a residential block, such as within a flat or the communal areas, it will be contained in this area for at least 30 minutes. 

There are two main reasons why fire compartmentation is required:

  1. For life safety
  2. For property protection

What is a fire compartmentation survey?

A fire compartmentation survey is an assessment of the compartmentation of a building for its suitability in containing smoke and fires, and protecting escape routes. Much like a general fire risk assessment, they are a vital part of reducing the risk of fire and the damage a fire could cause should one break out.

When would you need a fire compartmentation survey?

Fire compartmentation surveys are generally only necessary in a limited range of circumstances and for specific types of buildings such as residential flat blocks, care homes or hotels. You may need a compartmentation survey if there is reason to believe there are serious defects in both the common parts (Type 2) and/or inside the flats (Type 4) such as inadequate compartmentation or poor fire stopping which cannot be determined sufficiently during the Type 1 or Type 3 Fire Risk Assessment.

What does a fire compartmentation survey involve?

A fire compartmentation survey is quite intrusive and more in depth and complex than a standard fire risk assessment because it involves investigative works within roof spaces, ceiling and floor voids, as well as within service rises or behind boxings. Fire compartmentation surveys must be carried out by somebody who is competent to do so but who also has an understanding of the building’s structure and design, as well as active and passive fire safety measures and systems.

Getting help with your fire compartmentation survey

Due to the invasive and complex nature of a fire compartmentation survey, we offer a thorough fire risk assessment and fire safety consultancy to ensure your building, whether it’s a block of flats, care home or hotel, remains fully compliant. Our process will also identify fire risks that may be outside the scope of the Fire Safety Order but could present a property or business continuity risk.

For help with your fire compartmentation survey, contact us at Total Fire Group.


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Fire Risk Assessments

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