Firestopping and fire protection are different forms of passive fire protection of a building structure. Passive fire protection performs a compartmentalising role in the event of a fire outbreak, aiming to limit the spread of fumes and flames for a prescribed period of time, based on a country’s National Building Codes, but never lower that the structural element it protects or passes through. These systems do not require any human intervention, servicing or external energy input to function efficiently, hence they are labelled as “passive”.

Aftermath of building fire

Main aims of Passive Fire Protection

In the event of a fire, passive fire protection methods are intended to:

  1. Impede the progression of fumes, hot gases or flames through openings and cracks
  2. Avoid the spread of flames around the building structure
  3. Maintain the fire in areas of manageable risk
  4. Maintain load bearing capacity of structural elements

Passive fire protection systems aim to confine the fire for a prescribed period of time, but never lower than the structural element it protects, within a compartmentalised space to allow the evacuation of people and the intervention of emergency services. Respective fire resistance periods are assigned to specific building types which are determined by regulatory building codes.

Understanding the Difference

Although firestopping and fire protection are both passive fire protection methods, each has its own applications, materials, systems and fire-resistance ratings.


Firestopping is one form of passive fire protection that is used to seal openings and joints. Firestops are intended to maintain the integrity of a wall or floor assembly, thereby stopping the spread of smoke and fire from one compartment to another within the building. 

Once the integrity of a wall or floor has been compromised by hacking a hole allowing services to pass through, firestopping systems are required. Common services passing through walls and floors are electrical, mechanical, piping and junctions between fire-resistance-rated wall or floor assemblies.

Common components of firestops include intumescents, cementitious mortars, silicone, firestop pillows, pipe collars and rubber compounds.

Fire Protection

Application demonstration of intumescent coating in laboratory environment

Fire protection refers to the process of protecting structural members to maintain their loadbearing capacity for a specific period of time, prescribed by National Building Codes.

In the construction industry, this is applied on structural steel, as steel will lose a significant part of its loadbearing capacity at elevated temperatures.

One method of fire protection is through the application of intumescent coatings onto the designated structure. When these coatings are exposed to heat, they undergo a chemical reaction and expand to create a carbonaceous char that acts as an insulant between the steel component and the fire, thus delaying the heat transfer into the steel.

The key difference between firestopping and fire protection is that the former prevents spread of fire to different compartments and the latter protects the building from collapse in case of a fire.

Due to the difference of protection they are also held to different test standards in order to prove their use.

Nullifire Logo
Nullifire has been at the forefront of the passive fire protection market for over 45 years.

Nullifire has always strived to provide fire protection systems that will, ultimately, perform in a fire situation. As such we have been at the forefront of developing a number of innovative intumescent systems over the years.

By understanding the market requirements around the world, Nullifire designed a unique hybrid system, SC900 series, that would allow application in a single coat, up to 5mm, which would dry in one hour, allowing for steel to be protected within a single day on or off the construction site.  

All of Nullifire’s systems, from the intumescent coatings for structural steel to the comprehensive fire stopping range, have been fully tested to relevant British, European and Australia test standards, allowing them to be used in the whole of Asia Pacific.

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