Criteria for Choosing Fire Partitions 

Fire Partitions are separating element of the structure, placed inside a building that split particular rooms, floors, corridors or spaces within a structure/building. The vertical assembled partitions stretch from the floor up to the roof of the room. The objective of a fire-rated partition is to prevent jumping of fire across the partition and prevent flashover and spread of fire and smoke to adjacent fire compartments. 

Fire Partitions are different from Fire Barriers and Fire Walls.

Fire partitions are supposed to be non-load bearing lightweight construction with major part without any through penetration services. However, fire-rated doors can be required to be installed within the fire partition structures for ‘through & through physical access’ to adjoining compartments.

Depending upon the location and purpose of a fire partition, its fire rating can be 30 minutes and above as per international building codes (IBC). Fire partitions will be mainly to prevent flashover across the fire compartment and can allow heat radiation across the areas. 

Fire partitions can be clear transparent glazed partitions, light-transmitting ‘itched non-clear’ partitions, partial clear or light-transmitting partitions, fire & sound attenuation partitions, temporary/makeshift arrangement of partitions like those with  “sliding folding” arrangements.  

Firewalls are strong walls built to resist fire for up to four hours, remaining erect even if other parts of the building collapse. These exterior walls are thicker than standard walls and stretch from the foundation up to the roof.     Structures subdivided with a firewall between them are considered separate buildings. Long, high firewalls may be supported with pilasters or buttresses. A standard firewall is made from concrete or masonry.

Windows, doors, or other openings are avoided to a part of firewalls.  Expansion joints allow the material to expand to withstand the fire’s heat. Firewalls do more than just contain the blaze. They must also withstand force from other structures or items that collapse within the building, such as inventory or storage.

Unlike exterior firewalls, fire barriers are walls built within a structure. They can either extend from the floor to the roof or from one floor to the ceiling of the floor above. These subdividers can cover hidden spaces and are supported by floors, columns, roofs, and other interior structures. Fire barriers can resist fire for up to three hours as long as the supporting structures have the same level of fire resistance. 

This design can allow occupants to safely evacuate the building while containing the fire to the smallest possible area. This can protect the building both from fire and smoke damage, as well as water damage from sprinklers. A one-way fire barrier withstands flames from one side only. Two can be placed together to block fire from both sides. 

Fire barriers can be a part of a Firewall or a Fire partition.  Through service, penetrations are generally a part of Fire barriers. It can be part or full height like those surrounding transformer areas, high hazard zone separating elements.

Type of fire partition is selected for its suitability with due consideration to several factors such as type of occupancy, its main purpose/function.

Public areas such as airports/ shopping malls / commercial buildings, hospitals, emergency gathering separating areas, refuge areas all require physical separation from hazard areas, with sight transparency across the separating element by way of glazed fire-rated partition.

Some areas of buildings like workshops, stores, labs can require glazed light-transmitting partitions.

Some areas of the building need lightweight drywall type partition for physical separation like in commercial offices, hotels. 

There are areas within the buildings like big auditoriums, assembly halls to be subdivided temporarily into smaller compartments for multiple uses and events/functions simultaneously. These temporary separations can be by way of sliding folding partitions.    

There are other convenient and effective ways of separating elements like horizontal and vertical rolling shutters, Fire and smoke fabric curtains, water spray curtains which are not termed as partitions in general terms of fire partitions.