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Pizza and Firestop?

Okay, so these two things don’t normally go together, but as many of you know I teach a few classes for NJ building officials. I like to think we have a little bit of fun in the class, despite talking about building codes and standards and typically dry boring subjects. My class yesterday had a great bunch of people. One guy, Lee was talking about how his trip to Italy has ruined pizza for him in the US. Many of you know I LIKE FOOD. So in an attempt to help Lee be able to enjoy pizza without the trip to Italy, I began to tell him about BBQ pizza. At the end of class the one lone architect in the class challenged me to post the pizza info. So, in case you need a means to feed a gang of people around Thanksgiving without much headache. Try this if you’d like and let me know what you think.

Step 1- pizza dough. You can buy it in a store or make it. If you make it, I prefer to use beer and honey. King Arthur Flour has an add in for pizza dough that improves the flavor as well and they have a bunch of recipes for you to play with if you are so inclined.

Step 2- get all your fixings together and put them by the BBQ, turn it on high. Fixings should include sauce cheese and anything you want on your pizza plus a can of spray oil.

Step 3- roll out the dough and place it on a pizza paddle and bring it out to the BBQ.

Step 4- spray the BBQ (please be careful- I don’t want any horror stories coming back to me on this one- you can also use a silicone brush with oil if you prefer) slide the dough onto the BBQ and close the oven. after about 5 min check to see that the dough is crisp but not black and when it is, flip it over, QUICKLY top your pizza, close the lid and turn the heat down so you don’t scorch the beautiful creation.

So to Harry, and the rest of my crew from yesterdays class- This was for you guys! You were a great class and I enjoyed the day with you. I hope you all enjoy this, if you try it. Keep learning and eating good food!

Safety Team- who’s on board?

Last week we heard yet another story of a construction worker death on a jobsite in NYC.   I know, I typically go on and on about firestop and passive fire protection. If you have been following me for a while, you also know I love to tell a story, so today I have two for you and I hope they make you think about safety on your project, no regardless of your job title.

 

I was working on a massive project and in one of the regular meetings someone from the safety department gave a talk about safety. No big surprise there. He asked everyone who worked in safety to raise their hand. I didn’t raise my hand because I was an engineer, not a safety person. He asked everyone to look around the room…THEN HE LET US HAVE IT. He explained every single one of us needed to have raised their hand. EVERY one of us was responsible for safety. We were all responsible to check that holes are covered, that railings are secure and that other people are tie off and a list of other things.   Then in our own smaller team meeting our boss reiterated the importance of this and required that everyone of us write up a safety report at least once a week. Even if the report said that we checked a bunch of things and found no issues. I still do that, even when it is not a formal requirement, it is no less important.

 

Later on a different project, we had just gotten out of a safety lunch. This was supposed to be a celebration of X number of days on the job with no recordable accidents. It was a grand BBQ and everyone got T-shirts.   Before I take this story any further, if you have not met me you should know I am a short, skinny, chick with long brown hair and I remind most people of their kid sister or something similar. I used to teach kindergarten, so I have a sugary sweet side and a firm, Momma bear tone that I reserve for special needed occasions.

 

So, after I left the Safety Lunch, I noticed a guy in a lift, sporting his new safety shirt but NOT HIS HARNESS.   I hollered up and him with a flirty voice but quite enough that he could not hear me well over all the noise. So he lowered the lift with a big ole smile on his face and said, “What, sorry I couldn’t hear you.” I asked him if he went to the BBQ and we talked about what a great spread it was and oh look the new shirt. I asked him why they had the BBQ in the first place and he went on to explain that they do that on projects to celebrate a good safety record. We talked about how it really made him feel appreciated and on and on. (Guy’s be careful when someone asks you an obvious question, they may be setting you up) Then, I asked him for his Mother’s phone number. He smiled quickly when he heard the request for the phone number, then when it sank in that I didn’t ask for HIS number, a look of confusion spread over his face. Out came the Momma bear voice as I told him, I didn’t know how to get it through to him. He has clearly sat in innumerable safety meetings. He JUST LEFT a safety lunch and climbs into a rig, leaves his harness on the floor and starts to get to work. I wanted his mothers phone number so I could call her and ask for her help. Maybe she could get through to him and remind him to be safe on the project . Maybe she could succeed where the rest of us have failed.   He hung his head, grabbed his harness and started to put it on. Before he climbed into the rig again I told him, I don’t care about the safety numbers. I care about the actual safety of the actual people of the project.   About a month later I saw the guy again. Again, he was in his rig. This time however he was tied off. I was happy to be able to shout up at him nice and loud (so he could hear me this time), “Good to see you tied off Joe. “

 

If you work in construction, please do not sit idly by if you see a safety violation.

Firestop Classes in New Jersey

Hi everyone,

I am excited to announce the schedule for Rutgers Fall classes.  There are  heaps of great classes available in this program, but the ones I am teaching are:

Understanding the Requirements of Firestop Special Inspection- 1705.17

Special inspection (SI) of firestop is a requirement in NJ and since there is no licensing process the local jurisdictions (AHJ) are responsible for ensuring that the contracted inspector is actually qualified.  This class goes over the reporting requirements and a few ways to identify if your SI is up for the job.  Participants will even walk away with a few inspection tricks up their sleeve to try out on their next project.  This class is designed to help the AHJ’s keep the hacks out of their jurisdiction. While there are three slides specific to the NJ building codes, most of the information relates to ASTM E2174, ASTM E2393 and ASTM E3038 and the Chapter of the IBC as it relates to special inspection of firestop.

My favorite comment about this class last semester: “That changes everything!”

Classes will be on Friday, Nov 6 in Parsippany NJ & Thursday, Nov 16 in Cape May NJ


Inspecting Grease Duct Wrap-

We have a bit of fun in this class and do a hands on installation of grease duct wrap on an actual duct.  Okay, so its not a “real” grease duct, because I have to schlep it into the class room and screw it together.  It would fail the light test with your back turned. But the installation is real, the installers and inspectors are real, and the other materials are exactly what is used in the field.  We do an inspection and learn how the mock field installation would fail the required lab tests.  This helps the participants be able to take the technical information into the field more effectively.  Then we talk about some more complication installations, what to look for during inspections.  We end with a discussion of the various materials that are found in the field and this semester we hope to have samples of the factory insulated materials so we can add this to the discussion.

My favorite comment about this class last semester: (at our first break about 90 minutes into a 5 hour class) “I only signed up for the class because I needed the credits for my license.  I didn’t think there was really anything for me to learn here.  My class yesterday was great.  I expected to learn a lot, and I did.  I gotta say though, I’ve learned more in this class already, than I did all day yesterday. “

Tuesday, Nov 28 in Evesham NJ & Tursday, Dec 14 in Sayreville NJ

 

If you are interested in joining any of these classes, or having us present the class in your area,  please email us.

What Exactly is a BEAD of FIRESTOP?

If you have been following this blog, then at this point you are well aware that the annular space is the gap between the penetrating item and the rated assembly. We have also mentioned several times that when there is NO gap it is considered point of contact. Did you know that the firestop needs to be installed differently when there is no annular space than when there is? It makes sense if you think about it. If there is annular space, many firestop details will require 5/8” of sealant be installed INTO the annular space. If there is NO space in which to install the firestop, many installers simply smear the firestop sealant over the top of the rated assembly. When they do this, it is not always obvious that there is point of contact. The installation can easily appear compliant if destructive testing is not conducted. The reality is, however; that the installation does not conform to a tested and listed assembly and in a fire scenario it there is a risk it may fail prematurely. Unfortunately, many installers are not even aware of the liability they create when they do this. It is a bit of a catch 22, if you will. If the inspectors do not catch this mistake, the installers assume that they are doing it right. The jurisdictional inspectors bear no liability for missing this during an inspection, however the new building code requirement calls for third party special inspectors in high-rise and risk category III and IV buildings. These inspectors would likely be liable for missing this during an inspection. The firestop installers certainly would be liable, because they are the ones who are supposed to assess the firestop assembly before the installation. They are the ones who are supposed to know the details they themselves submit.

So, if you are installing or inspecting these firestop installations, what should these point contact locations look like?

First of all let’s be VERY clear that point contact and continual point contact are two different things. An example of continual point contact is when a 1” pipe or conduit is put through a 1” opening. There are very few firestop details that allow for continual point contact. When a firestop detail says annular space can be 0”-1” that generally means that a 1” pipe can easily be installed in a 2” opening. If the pipe is concentrically installed (centered in the opening) then the 1” pipe in a 2” opening would give you apx ½” annular space all the way around the pipe. If it is off center then the annular space would be different on either side. If it is all the way to one side of the opening then the annular space is 0”-1”. The firestop detail will typically call for a bead of firestop at the point of contact. It will also define the size of that bead, so lets take a closer look at what is expected in this case.

Most of the penetrants will pass through the rated assembly at a 90-degree angle. If we remember our geometry classes from way back in middle school, the hypotenuse is the face of the triangle immediately opposite the 90-degree angle. In the diagram below, it is marked as C. When the firestop detail says that the bead of sealant needs to be ½” it means that the hypotenuse must measure ½”.

Now, at what point is the bead supposed to start or stop? This is not clearly detailed in any requirements but my personal opinion is that if the firestop installation calls for ½” of sealant to be installed INTO the annular space, the bead should be required in any space that the required ½” of sealant cannot be installed. This is not a standard. This is not a requirement. This is just Sharron’s opinion, so take it as that. Adopt it as your own if it makes sense. If you disagree, please let me know your argument against it.

On the other hand I have seen inspectors that require that if a bead is installed, it shall be installed all the way around the penetrant. I disagree with this because I feel it encourages installers to complete continual point contact installations and just throw the bead around the entire penetrant.

If there is no tested and listed application for continual point of contact, it should not be allowed. Here are a few examples of continual point contact details. These are the only times it is acceptable to have continual point contact. You will note they are all 1000 series details, meaning metal pipes. WL1054 is an example of a metal pip through a gypsum wall and CAJ1673is an example of a metal pipe in a concrete or block assembly. Please look at item 3, where you will see it allows for continual point contact and will require respectively a ½” or ¼” bead of sealant. Now you know what a bead of sealant should look like and how to measure it properly. Remember it must be tooled to ensure it sticks both to the substrate and to the penetrant. In the case of these two details, please also know that these two manufacturers likely have details that could utilize a more cost effecting non-intumescent material. It should be noted that BOTH of these details need to be done with intumescent firestop and not the less expensive products.

So with that, let me know what you think. Do you agree? Do you disagree? What do you see in the field?

Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit about the industry in which I work. If you have questions about any of this don’t hesitate to reach out to me. In the meantime, keep learning and continue to make projects better.

 

 

Inspecting firestop- Can you see the issue?

 

This is a 1-hour wall that separates an exit corridor from a condo unit. We are looking at it from the unfinished condo side and the firestop has been installed from the corridor side. From the corridor side of the wall, the installation looks good at a glance. The firestop is installed the full circumference around the cables. The cables are rigidly supported as required by the UL listing. The installer used an intumescent material that matches the submitted UL listed detail. When the wall is complete these MC cables will not penetrate the room side of the wall so technically this is a membrane penetration rather than a through penetration, but UL requires the same installation regardless of this fact. Bare in mind, this is changing and UL is requiring that membrane penetrations be tested separately, because they may perform differently than a through penetration. Stay tuned for more on these changes in the coming posts. Can you tell what is wrong with this installation? Better yet, can you explain why it is wrong and more importantly, two other issues. 1) What might the impact be in a fire scenario? 2) How might this improper installation impact the project over time?

 

 

Most UL listed firestop details will require 5/8” depth of sealant. I can tell you that the installer did not achieve even half of that. If you look closely, you too can see this just from looking at the picture. You can see that there are 2 layers of drywall. You can see an ever so faint line at the top of the opening where the papers from both layers of drywall are in contact. That means that the line between the two layers of drywall would mark 5/8” depth of sealant. As you can see, the installer did not even come close to achieving the required depth on this installation. Then, if you want to go on further to critique this installation, there is very little drywall between the hole on the left and the center hole. Furthermore, there is NO drywall between the center hole and the one on the right, so technically this is one opening. As such, most UL listed details will require that the cables be tightly bundled, which they are not. When cables are loosely laid together, there are a few problems. First, the installer can’t easily get sealant between the gaps around the cables; so this means the sealant depth is not achieved. Further, the gaps increase the risk of cables moving and the chance of the sealant pulling away from the opening or adjacent cables is increased which can lead to a failure of this installation in a fire scenario. These gaps are a weak point for both reasons.

 

Impact in a fire scenario: One of the steps in testing a firestop system is a hose stream test.  This portion of the test is designed to judge the integrity or durability of the installation because during a fire there is a lot of pressure in the room of origin and a lot of movement of the various elements in the building.  We want to know that the firestop system will have the integrity to withstand the impact of these things.  Every fire will be different, so no one can say for certain what dynamics any firestop application must endure, but if a PROPERLY installed firestop system is subject to a real world fire scenario we have a good idea of how it will perform. This installation is not a properly installed firestop system and while I can say it will definitely fail, I can say that this installation presents a liability for the firestop installer, the electrical contractor, the GC or CM, the owner, the buildings insurance company and the occupants of the building.   Don’t worry, the firestop contractor was required to remediate this particular problem on this project.  Please make sure they do the same on your project. For more information about the hose stream test check out these other blog posts as well. Here is one example.

 

Impact over life cycle of the building: There are a myriad reasons why the cables in this picture might be bumped, jostled or otherwise moved in a way that could dislodge the thin layer of firestop. However if the sealant is installed at the required depth of 5/8” and there is movement, the firestop material will likely still remain in the annular space of the opening. This means, it will be in the proper location so it can perform as expected, even if it pulls out of the wall slightly over time.

Red is Right?!?

The latest blog from ACS is carrying one the discussion of firestop history and the color evolution. Check it out here.  If you missed the initial discussion you are welcome to re-visit it here.

 

As always if you have any questions about firestop or passive fire protection don’t hesitate to email me.  Just go to our contact page here.

Protecting Cables in Rated Assemblies

Here is a great article by a fellow blogger and fire code junkie. I hope you enjoy. This is appropriate considering a conversation I just had about the Avalon fire here in New Jersey.  Cables run unprotected through rated walls and draftstopping after the building was inspected and signed off, was considered a considerable contributing factor in how the fire was allowed to spread rapidly through the entire building.

I will be back with you again soon with more of my own stuff just for you.

For now, I will leave you with Mr. Johnson!

Enjoy!