West Riding Blog

An Introduction to Passive Fire Protection

Malcolm Morris, Technical Manager, Sherwin Williams, Bolton, (Formerly Leigh’s Paints).


Passive fire protection (PFP) forms an integral part of the systems for controlling the effects of a fire in a steel structure.

Fire prevention measures (e.g. Fire regulations, good housekeeping, safety inspections) and active fire protection (e.g. sprinkler systems, extinguishers, etc.) will respectively reduce the possibility of a fire breaking out and offer a means of extinguishing the fire should it occur; however PFP comprises various methods which will mitigate the spread of the fire and delay the adverse effects of the temperature rise on the load bearing strength of a steel structure.

Intumescent paints are now firmly established as an effective form of PFP which will significantly extend the structural integrity of loaded steel elements in a fire situation, thus enabling safe evacuation and enabling extra time in which to fight the fire and prevent failure and collapse.

This paper will give an introduction to intumescent PFP and the mechanisms of expansion, thickness calculations and extensive testing which is required to bring a product to market.


Malcolm started as a chemist with Leigh’s in 1978, in a career based mainly in R&D and technical service; but now having qualified in terms of age, experience and receding grey hair as an ‘old fart’, has taken on a broad role in supporting technical and commercial colleagues within the business, as well as customer facing technical support and training. He has active involvement with the British Coatings Federation, and sits on several British and ISO standards committees.

Malcolm is a Fellow of OCCA, and a NACE Level 3 coatings inspector.

Outside of work his interests include supporting various under-achieving sports teams, gardening, walking, photography & attempting to keep vaguely fit. His chemical background has also developed special interest in the processes of fermentation and distillation


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