Firestopping for Glazing Industry

Welcome to this section of our firestop blog where we will discuss firestop information related to both the glaziers scope of work. This is a unique application with its own test criterion and its very unique applications, complications and code requirements. The unique nature of some of your more complex projects make a partnership with Halpert Life Safety very beneficial. We will go over some common firestop issues with these trades. Our focus with this blog is to educate the construction industry on firestop and improve the level of life safety on all buildings. We have worked on projects all over the US and internationally so our breadth of experience will likely be an asset to your next project, whether you hire us to help make sure it runs smoothly or if you just stay tuned to this blog in order to improve your own work. This is Halpert Life Safety, where we focus on “Saving Lives for the Life of the Building.”TM If you are a contractor who subs out the firestop scope, you still carry the liability of your subs work so you may want to know a little about it, and this blog is designed to do just that! If you self perform your firestop scope you definitely should stay tuned because this blog will help you reduce your companies liability on your projects. If you are a building inspector, third party special inspector, you will want to keep tabs on this blog as well and we would love to hear what you like or what you think we should add. If you want to be a guest blogger then by all means let us know.

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Firestopping between exterior and interior members. (part 1 of 2)

Hi everyone,

Here is a recent blog on Adhesives.org that poses a challenge to the industry to come up with a better solution for this edge of slab firestop. It’s a two part series and the first segment can be found here.   If you have any ideas and want to get connected to a manufacturer, I’m happy to help make connections for you.  If you have problems or questions on a project don’t hesitate to contact us for help.

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Fire Facts- (free CEU’s)

Would you like to know how to make use of a firestop submittal in a way that will help you hold your installers accountable in a whole new way? If you are even thinking “maybe”, then you should join us for the 25th Fire Facts!  It is put on by City Fire as an educational forum and is well attended every year.

We have a new session coming up Feb 2nd in Princeton. If you join us, you will leave with a new set of skills that you can put to use the very next day (or at least the following Monday). This is hands down my favorite class to teach. Don’t get me wrong, I have fun with all of my classes, but this one is packed with valuable information…and it’s free!  Come for the CEU’s, come for the information and you will get some good food, great company and valuable information about firestop, hot works and carbon monoxide.

If you want to join us, please contact Melissa Palmisano for more details and to register. She can be reached at melissa@cityfire.com.

HOPE TO SEE YOU IN PRINCETON!

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I Have a Bone to Pick with Insurance Companies (It’s not what you might think)

The NEW YEAR started with me doing a training seminar at Seton Hall. Paul McGrath of City Fire invited me to speak at their 25th Fire Facts Seminar and it was awesome. I had so much fun, jumping around on a huge stage talking about building codes, standards, firestop and passive fire protection. Those of you who have been in my classes know what a dork I am, and how much I love it!

At lunch I sat with a few guys.  One who had been in one of my previous classes. Like most of us, he wears many hats. One is arson investigator.

During lunch our discussion bounced to raising kids with integrity and teaching them to be accountable for their actions.  We talked about how, if there are no consequences to the kids negative behavior, then the behavior won’t change.  I confessed to having stolen a candy bar when I was a kid and told of how my mother made me take it back into the store, give it back to the lady, apologize and tell her why it was wrong.   One of the guys had done the same thing with his young son and a pack of gum.

I was struck by the fact that there was a direct connect to this parenting move and the way I was hearing the insurance company is currently handling fire cases. As a parent, there has to be consequences to a child’s behavior; positive consequences to positive behavior and negative consequences to negative behavior.  What I was hearing at lunch was making it clear that the insurance industry needed help learning how to hold contractors and building owners accountable.

Rather than put in the legwork to identify construction that did not conform to the codes, the insurance companies just paid out the claims. This means that the contractor, who didn’t do the job right and created a scenario where a fire was allowed to propogate, or even started due to non-code-conformant installations, has no negative consequences for bad installations.  This is only letting people off the hook.

Now, I will be the first to tell you, I don’t know a great deal about insurance! I will also tell you that I do not want to offend anyone with this post. What I do want to accomplish with this is to:
1) raise awareness
2) start a conversation
3) be a catalyst for positive change in the industry

We all know what it typically takes for people to sit up and take notice. DEATH or massive loss always gets people’s attention. Then the masses cry, “How could this happen?

Trying to initiate change before you have everyone’s attention is not the easy route, but I would like to do just that before it comes to something tragic and I am asking for help from the Linked In community.

What ideas do you have regarding how we can have a positive impact that will help insurance companies be able to hold contractors accountable. I know a few years ago there was a case where a building owner did not maintain their sprinkler system and the insurance company did not have to pay out.  That old post can be found here.

If you have any ideas of how to help or if you can answer any of these questions please shoot me an quick note (or a long one if you prefer).  Your help may be the catalyst to the positive change we all need to see.

What events/trade shows/conferences would be interested in hearing more about this?

Do you have any contacts who could help with this agenda?

Do you have any ideas or data that would be useful in initiating this change?

 

As always, thank you all for reading this diatribe.  Keep Learning!  Do better every day and on the days you don’t; just remember there is tomorrow and take advantage of that when the day arrives.

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Why you should know more about how firestop is tested.

Understanding more about HOW firestop is tested will help you understand what is important when inspecting it. It will help you understand how firestop installations can fail when they are not installed properly. This series will address a wide array of issues while discussing how firestop is tested.

 

If you want to understand firestop and why certain requirements are important then you need to understand how firestop is tested. You could dig out the standards from ASTM or UL and read all about the process for firestop tests. But, that is a bit dry. So, this will be an attempt to explain how firestop is tested without getting dry and technical. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle so bare with me as we discuss each one. Along the way you will also garner a better understanding for WHY all this stuff matters. This will be a series of interconnected posts that will loop back into each other and connect with former posts so you can skip what you already know or beef up on things you may want to know more about. Let’s get started.

 

WHY: Why do we test firestop? The basic answer is to ensure safe installations and to keep all the various manufactures on the same playing field and playing with the same rules.

 

If you want to create a firestop material and have any hope of selling it in the US, you have to first have it tested by a third party testing agency. There are a number of companies who will do the test, but the lions share of the through penetration tests are done at Underwriters Laboratories. There are more and they include such as Omega Point Labs, Warnock Hersey and others. Having a material tested by a third-party testing agency means that each manufactures material will be subject to the same type of critique and will have to meet the same expectations in the test burn.  This means that the end user can have the same expectations of any product installed according to the details in the tested and listed documentation. Understanding why certain elements of a test are important requires you to know more about HOW things are tested. Here is a start to the explanation:

 

Here are some basics:

Rated floor or wall– the assembly is built, allowed time to cure, set on the furnace. The assembly is peppered with thermocouples’ connected to computers so they can make sure the non-fire side of the assembly doesn’t get too hot. There are specific requirements to how they are placed. You can read more about if you wish by digging into the actual test requirements. We wont get into those specifics here other than to say that the edges of the assembly are not really considered important to this particular test because they are covered in the test for rated joints. This test assembly will be tested for an F rating and for a T rating.

 

The F rating is the time it takes for fire to breach the assembly. If you are testing a gypsum wall for 1 hour and fire breaches the wall before 60 minutes then you will fail the test. If it breaches at 61 minutes you have at least passed for a one-hour assembly. The T rating is a bit more complex, but still very important. We will save that for our next blog topic, so don’t forget to check in with us next week.

The technical term for this is to ensure that the F rating equals the T rating. There is a whole other topic that needs to be addressed which is the hose stream test, which is an important part of the test and again warrants its own blog post to come shortly.

 

Rated Joints– the test for the rated joints is basically the same as the test for the rated assemblies, but with a few additions. Now, we are dealing with two different assemblies. The way they are connected will provide the “code required” continuity of a rated assembly. So, if you have a floor joining a wall and they are both rated, we want to know that the joint between the two assemblies will be capable of withstanding the same rigors as the two assemblies independently. The tests are similar but there is one added dimension for many joint assemblies. (note we are not talking about Perimeter Containment/Edge of Slab firestop)

 

Joint assemblies can be either static (no expectation of movement) or they can be dynamic. Dynamic joints are subject to very specific movement criterion (another topic for later) the joints also require that the F rating and the T rating are the same, meaning that significant amounts of heat wont pass through the rated joint. This expectation will make more sense once we post the information on T ratings shortly.

 

Through Penetration- As you might expect, the test for through penetrations is very similar to the test for rated assemblies and rated joints. The differences are that we don’t have the T rating requirement. The T rating is a measure of thermal transfer (how much heat goes through the assembly). If you have a copper pipe running through a concrete floor the heat will be on the non-fire side of the assembly very quickly because copper is an excellent conductor. Therefor the T-rating requirement is not in the test standard but rather in the building code (you guessed it, a topic for later discussion). These through penetration tests often have a requirement that the penetrant be rigidly supported. This causes problems for the firestop installer in some cases, but causes even bigger problems for the long-term impact of the firestop if it is not complied with. This is a common deficiency in firestop installations.

 

If you have attended one of our training seminars or if you already know a bit about firestop you may be thinking…she didn’t even mention the hose stream test. This is critical to understanding why certain elements of the firestop listed assembly are so critical, such as sealant depth, annular space and other topics, but it also helps you understand how various drywall patch applications would not survive the laboratory test conditions AND you guessed it- it’s a topic for another blog post!

 

So we have basically set the groundwork for the next few months of posts. I hope you take the time to write in and let us know what you think and what else you think we should include. If you need help on a project don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you improve the level of life safety on your building.

 

 

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Excellent video about firestop inspection

Happy Friday.  It is hot here in NJ, so I am making life a little easier for you (and me) and giving you a great video.  If you are responsible for firestop, whether you are an installer, inspector, architect, general contractor or ANYONE who should know what to look for  when looking at firestop, please watch this video.  It is a great start to learning a few things that are very important or refresh what you already know.  A big thank you to the IFC and STI for making this video available to everyone. Have a great weekend!

Watch the video here-

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Do this and your insurance company might not have to pay if your building burns

The article below is basically about a building that was insured against fire, but because the owner did not properly maintain the buildings sprinkler system, as is required by code; the insurance company did not have to pay after a fire. In fact the owner had to repay the advance that they were given.

You can read the article below, but I wanted to start a conversation about passive fire protection.  The building codes require rated walls be maintained so when your IT crews run new lines or new tenants renovate an office space or whatever may happen to any building, with any occupancy type, that could interfere with the integrity of a rated wall.  Would the insurance company be able to identify this as a risk that would allow them to not have to pay out during a fire?   The building codes are changing and now many projects are required to have third party special inspection of firestop installations. All it will take is one major loss and insurance companies will look more closely at passive fire protection.  Also you will find that premiums will change and the way premiums are evaluated will change.

If you don’t want to run this risk, contact Halpert Life Safety and we will help you assess the risk in your building, we can help with due diligence before you purchase a building or during construction we can help ensure that your contractors are not missing anything.  Check out next weeks blog post to learn about a major problem with ductwork that is very rarely done correctly. (at least from my experience…if I am wrong I’d love to know…write to me)  It doesn’t matter if you are on a project in China, the Caribbean, Las Vegas or New York there are certain problems that are common. I can say that because Ive been there.  Stay tuned to learn more about them!  Together we all can be part of a movement- “Saving Lives for the Life of the Building.”tm

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/east/2011/07/20/206553.htm#.T8O55FcdLD0.email

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Halpert Life Safety Consulting LLC’s

“Saving Lives for the Life of your Building” TM

Our mission is to make a colossal impact on the level of life safety of your building and on the talent of your people. We provide consultation, training, quality control and third party special inspection related to firestop and passive fire protection. We consult for the building industry in the New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) metropolitan area, as well as across the United States and internationally.

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