Passive fire protection

June 2011 Fire & Safety

Fashionably fire resistant hotel in Cape Town.

The Grand Daddy Hotel off Long Street in Cape Town has rapidly assumed legendary status, since the refurbisher of the erstwhile Metropole Hotel converted it into South Africa’s only fashion hotel with a rooftop penthouse trailer park. Each of the Grand Daddy’s Airstream Penthouse Trailers is fully air-conditioned and has an en-suite shower/bath and toilet.

The classic trailers were sourced from the USA by the developers, Jody Aufrichtig and Nicholas Ferguson, along with others in the team, Stefan Botha, Sergio Dreyer and Francois van Binsbergen. In addition, the rooftop features a mini-outdoor cinema plus a resident’s bar beneath a Toureg freeform tent, where guests can relax. The revamp of the hotel was the work of interior stylist Tracy Lynch and each trailer on the rooftop was custom designed by individual Cape Town designers.

Integral to this project is the assurance that the background passive safety design features are working well. These included the fire safety systems.

Safety and building regulation compliance specialists had the wisdom to specify a protective fire barrier/cladding the exposed side of the emergency stairwell from the penthouse/trailer park floor down to the safe level. Cape Town-based national fire protection and security systems specialists, Firespec, was called in to install a fire wall of 2-hour protection running the full depth of the emergency staircase, down the atrium. The fire wall is non-obvious and blends in well with the surroundings. The staircase entrance is attractively finished with durable materials, leading onto a boardwalk decorated with potted plants.

“There are several reasons why protection is needed down this atrium,” says Firespec CEO, Leo Slootmans. “Firstly, the effect of an atrium with glass windows facing inside is to act as a massive channel for the propagation of flames. This threatens the safety of persons on the stairs inside the atrium, should they be evacuating the rooftop or lower floors of the building, in the unfortunate case of fire. Secondly, the stairwell is of steel construction and steel weakens considerably in the presence of fire. Protection offered by a fire partition up the stairwell offers safe evacuation from flames down the stairwell for up to two hours.”

A solution was provided via Firespec’s Fireboard CS, one of few passive fire control boards available locally, this versatile product was finished into a double-walled cavity partition running down the atrium and painted white.

Adam Rodger, the Firespec Passive Division GM, says the board may be used indoors or outdoors in cladding structural steel, for ceilings, roofs, floors, partitions and external walls. The main feature is the 2-hour fire resistant product, tested and certified by SABS. Panels are approximately 1,2 m x 2,4 m in size and 9 mm thick. With no toxic or hazardous materials emitting passively or under combustion, the product is also moisture resistant and can be skim-finished and painted.

For more information contact FireSpec, +27 (0)21 685 1111,,

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