Mezzanine floors can be put to use in a variety of different businesses but whether it’s a large warehouse, a manufacturing plant or a retail environment – fire safety must always be at the forefront of planning. Fire damage can completely devastate a business – which is why it is important to put strict controls in place so that damage can be kept to a minimum. This article will look at some of the ways in which “fire rating” can help to reduce damage should disaster strike.
Although some mezzanine floors, for example those that are used for storage purposes, do not need to be fire proofed there are a number of circumstances when they require additional protection in order to meet building regulations. This includes mezzanine floors that span more than 20 metres in each direction, floors that take up more than 50% of the overall space it is installed in and also if the size of the mezzanine floor is larger than 400 square metres.
Maintaining structure of buildings
Unprotected steelwork heats up quickly in a fire so it’s important that it has some kind of protection to help maintain its structure. There are two reasons for this – firstly so that the structure of a mezzanine floor can hold together long enough for employees to escape and secondly so that fire fighters can rescue anyone that might be trapped in the blaze. Fire rated staircase enclosures, for example, will withstand heat long enough to allow employees safe exit.
The amount of fire protection or ‘fire rating’ is usually specified by a period of time, for example 1 hour, 2 hours and so forth. Fire rating can be achieved in a number of different ways.
Column casings can create an additional layer for fire to break down and add extra support to the mezzanine floor, and cavity barriers can be used to stop smoke and flames from travelling through ceiling voids. Fire walls, fire doors and sprinkler systems can also be used to further fire proof a mezzanine floor and smoke detection systems can be installed to provide an early warning of fire.
It’s critical that employers make changes to adapt their buildings with both the safety of their business and the well being of their employees in mind. Thinking ahead can help avoid any injury, damage to stock and potentially protect against any legal action following an incident.