Inspecting SFRM, SoCal Cracks Down on Fasteners

Donald E. Smith, CCS

June 2007

Here is a case of a third party inspector applying a literal interpretation of a document and not exercising reasonable judgment in the course of performing an inspection of spray-applied fireproofing.

The on-site third-party inspector for sprayed-applied fireproofing stated that he could not take a measurement as indicated on page 24 of AWCI Technical Manual 12A, Third Edition: Standard Practice for the Testing and Inspection of Field Applied Sprayed Fire-Resistive Materials; an Annotated Guide because the fireproofing had been installed over Z furring members, and the exact middle of the bottom flange of the beam had been rendered inaccessible by the furring members. He also insisted that the fireproofing should be installed prior to installing any framing members.

First, the inspector is taking the drawing literally in his interpretation that the arrow is indicating that the measurement be taken at the exact center of the beam flange (see diagram). The drawing is merely a representation of where the measurements can be taken. Under this same interpretation, the web measurements should be taken at the exact center of the web. Again, that is not the intent of the drawing. As a matter of fact, determining the exact center of either the web or the flange in either location would be hard to do without conducting a destructive test since the fireproofing application obscures the outer boundaries of both the web and the flange. This is true when the Z furring channels or a ceiling runner to accept a partition is in place. In fact, when framing members, Z furring channels or a ceiling runner have been installed prior to applying the fireproofing material, any voids will be filled in by the fireproofing, providing better protection for the assembly.

When the fireproofing is applied prior to the installation of framing members, the fireproofing material must be scraped away to attach the framing member securely to the structural steel member resulting in the applicator having to return and touch-up the installation. This presents the possibility of voids that compromise the integrity of the fireproofing.

As far as where the measurements can be taken, my opinion is that the measurement can be taken anywhere along the face of the flange as long as it is not too close to the edge of the flange of the beam.

Southern California is back in the forefront of inspection details. Our friend and compatriot Jason Fell attended a meeting of California’s state building officials and came away with a tidbit of interest to those who do business in the Golden State. This involves the 2006 edition of the International Building Code and how the local building officials plan to enforce the requirement for use of non-corrosive fasteners in conjunction with treated wood applications. Apparently this same requirement was included the Uniform Building Code that has been in use in California prior to the adoption of the IBC, but building officials admitted that enforcement had not been as strict or uniform as they would have liked.

The building officials indicated that, in the future, they would apply a strict interpretation of "Chapter 23 – Wood” of the 2006 IBC. Of primary concern is paragraph 2304.9.5 – Fasteners in Preservative-treated Wood: "Fasteners for preservative-treated wood shall be of hot-dipped zinc-coated galvanized steel, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. The coating weights for zinc-coated fasteners shall be in accordance with ASTM A153.

Exception: Fasteners other than nails, timber rivets, wood screws and lag screws shall be permitted to be of mechanically deposited zinc-coated steel with weights in accordance with ASTM B 695, Class 55 minimum.

I realize this may not be a news flash for the remainder of the country, but it seems that things that start out on the left coast sooner or later make it across to the rest of the United States.

About the Author
Donald E. Smith, CCS, is AWCI’s director of technical services. Contact him at or (703) 538.1611.