Whilst it always nice to say that “we had the idea!”, our history in fire stopping products actually began when we were approached by a gentleman called Stuart Forbes in the late ‘80’s. At the time, Stuart was the owner of a company that manufactured products similar to our own. They were used for suspending high-temperature applications, such as high-temperature, insulated, pipes that were under movement.
In those days, the installers insulating the pipes were often the ones asked to fire stop them as they went through the wall. The traditional methods of fire stopping at the time involved pipes having to be installed within an additional outer metal ‘pipe’. The gap between the two pipes was then packed with mineral wool to a certain density to provide fire protection. This method was however, messy, unreliable and inefficient, especially when there was pipe movement. There were also no laboratory tests available for this method so no-one could be sure about its true effectiveness.
Stuart came up with the idea of creating a fire stopping product which was a pipe sleeve with thermal, sound and fire control properties combined. He approached us (at the time our business was called IHL – Industrial Hangers Limited) as we were one of the biggest manufacturers of the specific pipe support systems he was looking to create a fire stopping product for. After discussing his ideas we were in agreement that a much better fire stopping solution could be developed. In fact, we were so excited by it that we persuaded Stuart to start working for us! This allowed us to combine his ideas with our proven product development facilities.
As manufacturers of pipe support systems, we were able to approach fire stopping from a different angle. We understood how the support system as a whole was behaving and reacting within a structure. It’s crucial to understand this as it affects how the fire resistance methods work. Typically, companies who solely developed fire stops at the time were very focused on the fire resistance of the product. This meant that they wouldn’t necessarily consider the factors concerning the pipe system that may affect the performance of the solution. Pipes were also changing considerably in the 1990s. There were new types of pipes and new materials which would all react in different ways in a fire situation, so increasing the complexity of fire stopping solutions.
It took around 5 years of product development to come up with the best fire stopping solution. A huge amount of research and development was conducted to source the right materials, to ensure optimum fire protection of the firestop, whilst still taking all the considerations of the pipe system into account. For example, all the materials were required to exert certain pressures for certain periods and with certain reaction times. Walraven’s Pacifyre® Fire Sleeve was the first fire sleeve of its kind on the market in the 1990s. During the 1990s special laboratory tests were carried out for sound, movement and smoke resistance to ensure it complied with BS476-20.
Since the launch of the Pacifyre® Fire Sleeve, it has been used throughout buildings across the globe. These include The Shard, the fourth tallest building in Europe, and the Abel and Cleland residential estate in Westminster.
Over the years the product has been continually modified, both to enhance its performance and to make installation even easier – especially in a remediation situation. The latest development is now the Pacifyre® MKII Fire Sleeve. This has been specified on current projects in London including The New Grange Hotel – Tower Hill London and Papworth Hospital – Huntingdon.
If you want to learn more about Walraven’s fire stopping solutions then you can, by downloading our fire stopping brochure. It includes:
The Walraven team have over 30 years’ experience in fire stopping. They have worked on huge fire stopping projects such as The Shard and are experts in both new build projects and remediation. They are willing to discuss your fire stopping projects and assist you with problem-solving, technical design and more.