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Standardising Processes in Firestopping with Quelfire

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Alec Purdie, Technical Manager at Quelfire, explores the complexities of service penetrations and the advantages of engaging early in firestopping for construction projects

As a manufacturer and supplier of tested firestopping solutions, specialising in service penetrations, the primary mission of Quelfire is to protect people and property by supporting stakeholders on their firestopping journey—from design to installation.

One of our aims is to educate the industry on the importance of early engagement in firestopping – an approach that helps ensure safety and compliance from the outset,  avoiding costly and time-consuming remedial work later on.

Early engagement in fire protection

Engaging as early as the design stage is crucial due to the complexities of service penetrations.

Each building has unique requirements, and not understanding these ahead of time can lead to non-compliant installations, remedial work, and increased costs.

Complexities of service penetrations

As mentioned, service penetrations are complex.

For example, there is no standard test for service penetrations through plasterboard ceilings, and new materials like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) lack extensive test evidence.

Additionally, the diversity in service penetration types, such as different plastic, metal, and insulation types, further complicates the process.

Fire ratings are often misunderstood as they involve preventing fire spread  and heat transfer.

Misunderstandings and late engagement can lead to costly non-compliances.

Quelfire has tested many applications, but the ever-evolving industry means that new materials and methods continuously emerge, requiring regular testing to ensure safety and compliance.

The importance of a standardised process

A standardised process for passive fire protection involves specific steps and measures that should align with the building’s design schedule.

This ensures that fire protection measures are at the forefront of every decision.

Early engagement allows the relevant parties to outline the building’s fire strategy and identify all structural components.

It also ensures the architect’s preferred construction type is viable, understanding structural dynamics such as floor and beam deflection and load-bearing elements, and selecting service types early on.

In order to select the most relevant tested solutions and achieve compliance, detailed information sharing with manufacturers is essential.

Furthermore, early engagement meetings, involving all stakeholders, ensure a collaborative approach.

These workshops bring together the principal designer, wall manufacturers, MEP representatives, and firestopping manufacturers to discuss and coordinate the various aspects of the project.


The journey towards a standardised process has seen significant progress in recent years.

Quelfire’s involvement in various project stages has provided insights into recurring bottlenecks, often due to inadequate coordination or late planning.

Recently, there has been a positive shift with earlier engagement of fire protection experts, driven by changes in industry mindsets and legislations like the Building Safety Act.

This shift has led to a more proactive approach in addressing fire safety concerns, improving overall project outcomes.

Leading contractors who have embraced standardised processes have seen notable benefits.

Time efficiency is one of the primary advantages.

A thorough design will see a project progress smoothly, avoiding delays and the need for rework.

Cost-effectiveness is another benefit, as a well-defined design allows for transparent bidding and minimises unforeseen costs, keeping projects within budget.

Finally, a compliant design also ensures safety products perform as expected, protecting occupants and providing assurance to stakeholders.

Challenges in implementing standardised processes

Implementing standardised processes faces several challenges.

One of the primary challenges, as highlighted by Dame Judith Hackett, is the need for a significant cultural shift.

The construction industry has long-standing practices, and changing these requires a significant cultural shift.

Even if a professional isn’t directly using a product like Quelfire’s, their actions can have an effect.

For instance, deviations from the specified plan by a plumber can affect subsequent trades and lead to non-compliance.

 Recognising and understanding the broader implications of individual decisions is essential.

Additionally, ensuring decisions are made by knowledgeable and competent individuals is another challenge.

Misplaced beliefs in expertise or qualifications can lead to inappropriate product choices.

Our mission and focus on standardisation in passive fire protection is because we believe in the importance of early engagement, comprehensive planning, and collaboration in the construction industry.

By addressing the complexities of service penetrations and advocating for a standardised process, Quelfire aims to improve project outcomes, enhance safety, and ensure compliance with fire protection standards.

Our approach is designed to safeguard people and property whilst streamlining construction processes, making them more efficient and cost-effective.

As the industry progresses, the adoption of standardised processes will become critical to maintain high standards of fire safety and compliance.

This article was originally published in the July 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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