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Wachuwannano

Question:

I recently had an inspector
fail a job because he
said the fire rated caulk
we were using was insufficient
for the firestopping. We followed
the plans, but apparently the designer
failed to include all the necessary specs.
Naturally, this wound up back in my
lap. How do I avoid further problems
with firestopping specs!



Answer:

Firestopping is a big
and, perhaps until
recently, overlooked ingredient
in preventing
the passage of the hot and toxic gasses
that enable a fire to spread from one area
to another. I’ve heard several contractors
explain that building inspectors have recently
become more exacting in their assessment
of where and how carefully
&estopping is installed. I’m told that the
work is also time consuming, as well as
the recent subject of close scrutiny. Contractors
and designers alike have been
caught off guard with the intricacies of
the art, and it seems that there’s a whole
new line of work for the firestopping
subcontractor.



Obviously, there are pros and cons to
subcontracting the work out versus
doing it “in house.” Doing it in house
makes it easier to stay on schedule and
contain costs. The downside is that
there’s more than meets the eye to
&estopping. If the person or company
doing the work is not up to speed on the
materials and methods necessary to do
the work properly, the job may fail
inspection and bring everything to a
screeching halt. Or worse, a substandard
job passes and if down the road fire does
occur, lives and property may be needlessly
lost.



I have witnessed signs of this growing
awareness around me. Rumor has it that
ASTM E2174, specification for “The
Onsite Inspection of Installed Fire
Stops,” will soon be on the street. This
will complement ASTM E814, “Standard
Test Method for Fire Tests of
Through-Penetration Fire Stops.” There
also has been the recent emergence of a
couple of trade associations, the Firestop
Contractors International Association
and the International Firestop Council.
Among other things, FCIA recently
published the Firestop Manual of Practice,
and is already sending out the first
revision. The IFC has been passing out
large quantities of the Inspectors Field
Pocket Guide.



According to their Web site, wwwfcia.org,
“FCIA hired FM Research … to write an
approval program for firestop contractors,
complete with personnel testing
and an audit of the firestop contractor’s
quality program with a separate audit at
the project site to verify compliance with
their own company procedures. ‘FCIA
Manual of Practice’ – The FCIA Technical
Committee wrote this Firestop
Industry Book that is used for the basis
of the FM Written Test that a ‘Designated
Responsible Individual’ (DRI).
To qualify as a DRI, the individual must
pass with a grade of 80 percent or
greater. The FM 4991 Approved Firestop
Contractor must employ a DRI as
implementer of the program …. FCIA
and FM held their first “FM Test” for
DRIs and contractors went through rigorous
audits from FM Personnel to
become approved.”



On the IFC Web site, www.firestop.org,
there are several downloadable publications
worth checking out, including
IFC Guidelines for Evaluating Engineering
Judgments, Balancing Active
and Passive Fire Protection Systems in
the Building Codes, How to Avoid
Firestopping Liability, Maintaining
Life Safety Effectiveness in the New
Building Codes, Saving Lives Through
Passive Fire Protection, and Inspection
Guidelines for Through-Penetration
and Joint Firestop Systems in Fire
Resistance Rated Construction, 2nd
Edition.”



And then there are all the labs that list
the fire-rated designs ….



About the Author

Lee G. Jones is AWCI’s director of technical
services. Send your questions to
him in care of AWCI’s Construction
Dimensions, or send your e-mail question
to jones@awci.org.

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