Updated: Jan 20

The answer to that question in short is obviously to save lives and property, and in recent times, fire protection has hit the headlines with all of the media coverage of the Grenfell disaster. When people asked what I did for a living and I explained that we manufacture and supply passive fire protection products, they looked at me a bit blank, not knowing how to carry on the conversation, but now people seem to understand more about what we do.

Passive fire protection is everywhere, silently doing its job, hoping that it will never have to come into use. From the intumescent strips hidden within doors and the collars around pipes that carry services and wires from one level of a building to another, to the fact that humble plasterboard is 30 minutes fire rated so that there is some level of protection.

I guess most people who go in and out of public buildings and workplaces if asked would expect that there would be fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems alarms, and smoke detectors all around them to keep them safe, but not as many would give thought to the passive fire protection that had been cleverly designed into a modern building or retrofitted into a historic building.

It’s there in your homes, the fire retardant materials used in your mattresses and sofas, your loft insulation is most likely to made from glass fibers and therefore is non-combustible and all three-story buildings must have fire doors installed by law.

Passive fire protection is used in all public transport, with testing methods unique to where the protection will be placed, there are many testing houses or centers with slightly different testing methods and standards that are recognized in different countries, which makes the subject a little more confusing for someone trying to decide which is the best materials to use, but whenever you are fitting passive fire protection, the most important thing is to refer to what has been specified by an architect or a fire officer.

When potential customers contact us, we always make sure that they are confident that they are installing the correct material for the application. If they’re unsure or need advice we’re very happy to help or provide them with the information required to install the correct products and in over 30 years we’ve helped many people, after all, the reason that passive fire protection is so important is that it saves lives.

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This time I thought I’d discuss some of the bespoke products we’ve made in the past and the stories behind them.

I remember when I was in school listening to dad telling stories about what he’d been working on that day when we were eating our evening meal and being somewhat bored (being a teenager) thinking I would never work at Fireprotect, not knowing that one day I’d be MD!

One story involved working with Unilever on the plant that was bottling a laundry softener. The plastic bottles were very rapidly heated to very slightly melt the surface of the side of the bottle so that a label could be applied without using glue. Sometimes the bottles would get stuck and jam up the line, so workers would have to lean over and unjam them, this meant that some people were burning their arms and chests on the heaters, and dad needed to design a heat shield that would not stop production and deflect any heat. He designed a U-shaped board that had ceramic fiber glued to it with our FCL 007 high-temperature adhesive and then was sewn into a bag made from quartz silica cloth. It proved to be exactly what they needed and until the machinery was redesigned we made these strange-looking things for about 15 years!

We were contacted in the mid-’90s by a very large tractor company, they had a design problem, the exhaust system was too close to the plastic fuel tank, and on occasions in hot countries, it was beginning to melt, not the best thing for a fuel tank to do! After a few discussions, we came up with a metal plate that had been powder coated stuck to a piece of ceramic board with the FCL 007 on one side, and coated with and modified FCL 100 paint with added elements to make the board oil and water-resistant. They would ship the metal plates to us, we would cut up the boards, coat them with paint and then stick them to the metal and they would pick them up again. As with the other project eventually, the need for the heat shield was designed out and so we no longer make these shields, but we still have all the capabilities to make these or similar items.

We have helped design heat shields for rally cars and worked with several racing teams, the most exciting ones being the F1 teams, we‘re not allowed to name names for obvious reasons but we’ve had some very interesting factory tours and always love working alongside such fantastic engineers, I had an offer to go over with the lorries to the Le Mans 24-hour race with one of the teams we worked with, but as luck would have it, I was 7 months pregnant and thought that even though it would have been loads of fun it probably wasn’t the most sensible of ideas to go with them!

There have been lots of bespoke projects, the first one being Ickie the Firebobby, which was going to be a range of children's books and toys to promote fire awareness. Mum and dad made a mock-up of the book and tried to promote toys being fireproof, but they were deemed too expensive and never really caught on. It’s a shame really because there were some good messages in the book, not only about fire safety but also keeping your community tidy and recycling.

We’ve dug out the book and if you’d like a read, click on the link below.

Ickie The Fire Bobby
Download PDF • 29.44MB

We have made our self-adhesive backed tapes into gaskets and little packs of cut sizes, we have laminated papers to mica sheets and cut into squares, and pride ourselves in being very adaptive with a good grasp of what the customers’ individual needs are, even down to labels inside center cores and specific labels on boxes.

Let us know what you need (fire protection wise!) and we’ll endeavor to get it made for you.

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Updated: 1 day ago

I was really happy how my first "blog" was accepted, thank you for all of your kind words and comments.

This time I thought I'd talk about a subject that comes up most days of the week, which is what tape/seals to fit.

We manufacture three types of tape that can be used for fire rated glazing systems

1) ceramic tape, which has been tried and tested for over 30 years,

2) a bio dispersant fibre (non-ceramic) equivalent tape that has the certification to state that the two will perform identically and

3) intumescent tapes.

It was a deliberate use of the phrase "fire-rated glazing system" , we get asked regularly which tape to use, and it's never our decision to make. Any system which has a certification from a testing house such as Exova to give a Certifire certificate will have to have been tested with everything that goes into that system and has to be used as a whole, the frame, glass, brackets, tapes, fixings etc have been tested together and none of the elements can be substituted.

The ceramic and non-ceramic tapes are mostly used in systems made from hardwood, steel and aluminium frames, using a glass-like Pyrostop, Pyrobel, Pyrobelite or Pyroshield and in some cases Georgian polished plate glass, but it is always the case that a fitter must refer to the Certifire certificate for clarification as to which materials must be used and in which combination as the certificate is very specific, even down to the maximum size of pane of glass which can be used.

When a customer buys a frame or glass it will have been tested and the supplier should be able to give them a test certificate number for them to be able to refer to. This will give them all the information they need as to what tape to use. the certificate will say for instance ceramic tape 3mm x 15mm and this is the only tape that can be used to ensure that the window or door will definitely do its job if and when required, the thought of using the wrong materials and the window or door failing is beyond imagination as to the damage to property and life that can be caused.

I have personally turned customers away who appear to have little or no knowledge of how these systems work and why it is so important for all the components of a system to be used together to ensure that the system works. I also have on many occasions explained this to potential customers and luckily managed to get them to fit the correct tapes within the system but it does make me wonder how many fire rated windows are not fitted and assembled correctly with the correct components.

If you need any help choosing the correct tape, please feel free to give us a ring and we'd be happy to advise you.

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