Why is special inspection of firestop now required?

Are these building code changes going to impact your next project?

(Round 2 why the code changed)

Some of you are thinking, “ The building inspectors already look at the firestop.” Or maybe you are thinking, “It’s not that complicated.” If you look at ASTM E2174, which is the standard for third party inspection of firestop through penetrations and talk to an inspector about what is required to comply with an inspection at this level, most building officials will tell you they do not have the time for that. Some will even admit they don’t have the training to look at it adequately. Combine that, with the fact that some jurisdictions with strong local third party inspection firms have reported that the failure rate on most projects the first few inspections is generally around 50%. That is typical, which means of course some project teams are stronger, but it also means that some are failing inspections well over half the time. Now, to understand that better, you have to look at what goes into as ASTM E 2174 inspection.

 

First the inspector needs to do one of two types of inspection. They either need to witness the inspection on 10% of each type of installation type or they need to conduct destructive testing on 2% of each type. When inspecting a firestop installation the following items must be reviewed by the inspector and they must confirm that each item conforms to the submitted and approved firestop assembly. That assembly must be tested and listed with a third party agency (most commonly Underwriters Laboratories or UL). When conducting an inspection according to this standard all of these elements must be reviewed. Each line here could warrant a series of blog posts because there is so much more information that needs to be known than what is just written here, but this is a decent start at least:rated assembly-to ensure it conforms with what is allowed in firestop details:

  • rated assembly-to ensure it conforms with what is allowed in firestop details
    • stud depth is a critical often overlooked component
  • penetrating item- to ensure they match in material, size etc
    • changes in material or size can have a major impact
  • sleeve- is it allowed, required or optional
  • insulation- to ensure both material and thickness conform
  • type of firestop material – manufacturer and material name
    • not all firestop is the same, even from the same manufacturer
  • annular space- minimum and maximum
    • both are very important and must be conformed to
  • sealant depth and any required bead of sealant
    • this requires an entirely different discussion
  • backing material- type, depth and compression
    • all three can be critical
  • square ducts over a certain size require retaining angle
  • plastic pipe over a certain size it requires a firestop collar
    • collars require washers and anchor type will vary based on substrate
    • plastic pipe over another size requires all that plus foil tape

 

You want your project being inspected by someone who knows how to look at each of these elements to confirm it conforms to the firestop details. You also want them to know WHY each is critical to the life safety of a building. If they can share this information with the team during the mandatory pre-construction meeting it has a tendency to increase the perceived level of importance for the entire team and may even increase team collaboration.  HLS pre-con meetings have been called “A GAME CHANGER” by some of our project teams.

 

If your project is hiring a third party inspection firm who does everything under the sun, including firestop and you want to know whether or not you are getting what you are paying for, contact us and we will help you make sure that your project is actually complying with the requirements of the codes and standards. You may be surprised by everything they should be doing.

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How Fast will a Building Burn Loaded with Modern Furniture?

Not long ago I shared a video with you that showed how much faster a fire burns with todays modern furnishings. This video shows the impact not on just a single room, but rather the entire structure.

Watch the video here

Both videos are a horrifying reminder of the importance of practicing fire drills at home and at work. If you are in the construction industry this should be a stark reminder of how important it is to get your life safety scope right, every time.

If you are not completely sure that your firestop is right, give us a call and we can help you identify if you have a liability or if you are on the right track.  If your teem needs a gentle nudge in the right direction or a whole new map of where to go, we can cater our service to suit your needs and your budget. Give us a call and lets see what how we can work together. 201-250-4193

Happy to help those who want to do it right!

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L ratings- Is your project code compliant?

Firestop has enough things to get technical about from annual space, various types of penetrations, solutions and what not. You may know about the 4 ratings firestop can have- F, T, W and L. This blog post will be focusing on the L ratings. have a read and let me know what you think. If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or your favorite firestop company for answers.   Check out this blog post here.

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Firestop in Shafts is Often Done Wrong, so Someone Asked, “How do We do it Right?” (part 4)

How did you do with the questions?  Hopefully, they made you think a little about this firestop detail, the product, the various field conditions you might encounter and firestop details in general.  Let me start by saying the answer to every single question is NOPE!  Even question 2 and 7.

 

Let’s take another look at the questions as we provide the answers.

 

If you want to review the product cut sheet is here

 

The firestop detail is here

 

Question 1: My field condition has a sleeve in a block wall. I can still use this detail because the firestop device is a sleeve, right?

No. The tested and listed detail (WJ2274) did not allow for a sleeve or say that a sleeve was optional.  That means that if there is a sleeve in your field condition you have to get a different detail.  Maybe one exists, but if it is not in the submittal package it doesn’t count for this project.

Question 2: What kind of anchors do I need to use to secure this to the wall?

You don’t need any anchors, that is one of the selling features of this new product.

 

Question 3: My field condition is using Aquatherm SDR 11.  It’s the same brand, so I can still use this, right?

It may be the same brand, but this detail calls for blue and Aquatherm SDR 11 is green.  Blue is not green so you cannot use this detail with green pipe.

 

Question 4:  The sleeve I am using is 10” long and I don’t want to see it on the occupied side. Is it okay to push it in flush with the outside of the wall?

The last line in 3A before listing the product says that the device shall be centered within the wall and extend equally beyond each surface of the wall.

 

Question 5: We are using brand X firestop sealant and we don’t want to have another sealant on site to confuse people with, so its okay if we use brand X firestop with this new sleeve thing, right?

Sure, go ahead and use brand X .BUT know that you are installing a detail that is non-conformant and you are accepting all liability if this installation should fail. In other words, NO you can’t, unless you can get documentation to support this and that is not likely.

 

Question 6: The aquatherm pipe is insulated but I got sleeves that are big enough to go around the outside of the insulation so this is fine, right?

There are details for insulated PP pipes, but this is not one of them.  The interesting thing is, that if you need an insulated pipe you look in the 5000 series details. When you do this, some of the insulated plastic pipes can be found here. Alternately some of the can be found in the 2000 series detail. It is an odd thing, but at the moment this is the way the details are laid out.

 

Question 7: I am using 3” Aquatherm green. My hole is 5” and my pipe is centered in the wall with the same annular space all the way around.  Can I still use this detail and this product?

See this chart for product information

 

The chart shows you that the 3” pipe has an OD of 90 mm (which is 3.543 inches- thank you Google unit converter)  That means that the annular space of our perfectly centered pipe will be .73” all the way around.  The detail manufacturers installation instruction require a minimum ¼” annular space (see installation date item 7). We have that covered no problem. The detail allows for a maximum annular space of 7/8” which is .875. With a 5” opening, 3.54 OD of the pipe, leaves 1.46 around the pipe but its centered so we takehalf of that which is .73.  We are allowed 7/8” annular space and .875 is less than .73 so….HA..this one is right..  Sharron was wrong…we can use this detail…except that, as we went though all of this math we forgot one little thing.

 

Take a second look at 2A. 

2 A. Polypropylene (PP-R) Pipe – Nom 6 in dia…. It does not say maximum 6 in dia. If it did say max then you would be fine and you could use this detail.  However this detail is only for use with a 6” pipe and only the type and brand of pipe listed.

 

If you are thinking this is a trick question its not.  It is something that is easily overlooked and I wanted to point out how quickly a contractor may be able to convince you that this system is okay.  I also wanted to remind you that you have to take a closer look.

Remember we are talking about shaft walls. These are integral to the life safety of the building. HLS is here to help those who want to get it right.  To quote the wonderful Dr. Maya Angelou “Do the best you can, until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. “  You may have missed this, or other things we have blogged about on past projects.  There is nothing I can do to help you with that, but I certainly can help make sure you get it right from here on out.

 

If you want us to walk a site with you (in the NY/NJ area) so you can see what you might do better, give us a call.

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Firestop in Shafts is Often Done Wrong, so Someone Asked, “How do We do it Right?” (part 3)

 

If you were with us for the last two blog posts you saw that there is a lot to look at when dealing with plastic pipes, and even more to deal with when those plastic pipes are going through a gypsum shaft assembly. Today we are going to tackle the concrete or block wall applications.  The shaft walls were not so bad, as long as it was staged/planned/schedule appropriately. Concrete or block walls however don’t have this same luxury and often have to be firestopped from one side.

 

When we were talking about the WJ1000 series details for our metal pipes I was able to share with you some relatively newer tests that were tested for a one sided installation.  Before those were available the typical option was to use an engineering judgment that often required mineral wool recessed well into the wall, maybe ½” depth of the firestop sealant, followed by more mineral wool and another layer of ½” depth of firestop sealant.  This was providing the same basic installation materials in a slightly different order and from one side of the wall.

 

Plastic pipes are tougher because they are combustible. If you remember the time temperature curve, then you remember that the temperature inside the test furnace must be 1000F at the 5 minute mark. Plastic pipes melt between 200F and 500F, which means in no time flat the plastic pipes will be gone. Insert time temp curve

 

This means that firestopping from one side is going to be more of a challenge and the larger the pipe, the greater the challenge. One great way to tackle this challenge is with another one of my favorite problem solving products that you can see here.

 

This is a metal sleeve with sheets of intumescent material. It comes flat, so if you are installing it say on a 4” pipe, its best to grab a 2” pipe. Wrap the sheet metal and the wrap strip around the smaller pipe, then uncoil it and it snaps easily around the 4” pipe and you can slide it into the opening.  I do not normally suggest the use of an EJ but as we walk through the detail you will see why it is needed. (but with any luck Metacaulk will test this as a one-sided application so you don’t even need an EJ)

 

For this review let’s look at WJ2274.  This particular detail is for Aquatherm Blue Pipe.  We mentioned a little bit about this polypropylene pipe and others in previous blog posts. We just want to remind you that this is a unique product and since this detail is for Aquatherm blue, SDR 17.6 then it is limited to this material and this material only.

 

I am going to throw out a handful of questions for you and Wednesday I will share the answers with you.  The questions don’t all relate to the same field application.

 

Question 1: My field condition has a sleeve in a block wall. I can still use WJ2274 because the firestop device is a sleeve, right?

 

Question 2: What kind of anchors do I need to use to secure this to the wall?

 

Question 3: My field condition is using Aquatherm SDR 11.  It’s the same brand, so I can still use this, right?

 

Question 4:  The sleeve I am using is 10” long and I don’t want to see it on the occupied side. Is it okay to push it in flush with the outside of the wall?

 

Question 5: We are using brand X firestop sealant and we don’t want to have another sealant on site to confuse people with, so its okay if we use brand X firestop with this new sleeve thing, right?

 

Question 6: The aquatherm pipe is insulated but I got sleeves that are big enough to go around the outside of the insulation so this is fine, right?

 

Question 7: I am using 3” Aquatherm green. My hole is 5” and I have ¼” annular space on one side around 3 o’clock. Can I still use this detail and this product?

See this chart for product information

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Firestop in Shafts is Often Done Wrong, so Someone Asked, “How do We do it Right?” (part 2)

Okay, so I am hoping that in this last week you have walked around your projects that have plastic pipe and identified the sizes of plastic pipes you have on your jobsites. What type of plastic they are, if they are solid or cellular core, if they are open or vented and that you have firestop submittals for each and every one of your field applications whether they are going through a shaft or not.  I know our discussion is about shafts but the information I am sharing is not restricted to shaft wall assemblies.

 

Now we are going to look at what the firestop detail tells us we need to verify when we do the field inspection.  Here is the link to the detail, so you can follow along with

WL 2217

At this point you will have already verified that field installation conforms with everything we discussed in the last blog post and everything we discussed above.

The first step of the installation comes with the plastic pipe coming through the shaft liner.  Pay particular attention to this because its going to be tricky.

 

3B says that the collar needs to be friction fit. This means that if the outside diameter (OD) of the collar is 5” then the hole needs to be 5” and the collar needs to slide into the opening touching the cut edge of the drywall. If this is not cut tight, if the person with the drywall saw made jagged cuts, then it doesn’t conform with this detail.

 

But wait that is not the only issue here.  This detail requires the collar be secured to the shaft liner with toggle bolts.  If that is the case then those are the only types of anchors that can be used.  This means that drywall screws are NOT acceptable.  I could side bar for a while on why and I will get to that another time, but for now just know it needs to be mechanically fastened and drywall screws are not considered mechanical fastening.

 

Did you notice that there is another requirement?  The anchors need to include a ¾” washer.  Other details may call for 1” or even 1-1/4” washers.  If these are not used then there is a risk that the anchors can pull out of the wall as the intumescent material expands.  There will be a great deal of potential for movement and pressure applied on this collar so it needs to be secured strongly to the wall and all of these are requirements, not suggestions.

 

SIDE BAR STORY

No joke: I was doing a training session with a field installer team and I went into a local Home Depot and asked where they had their fender washers. They guy looked me straight in the eye and said, “Ma’am we don’t sell car parts here at Home Depot. “  I walked away in shock and asked the next person, “Where are your nuts and bolts?”

 

Okay, so back to our firestop detail:

You may have noticed that there is no requirement for sealant on the shaft liner.  That is because the collar is friction fit into the opening and this will limit any air movement that would be stopped by sealant.

 

The outer layer of drywall will allow for a gap, but how much of a gap?  The detail says that the maximum size of the opening in the outer layers shall be 5”. That annular space shall be filled with FS One which is an intumescent firestop sealant. Then the collar shall be installed on the outside of the outer layer of the shaft wall assembly with the same anchor tabs, toggle bolts and washers.  One thing we didn’t mention is that the collar comes with anchor hooks and you will need to use 2 hooks for pipes 1-1/2” to 2” and three anchor hooks for pipes three and four inches in diameter.

 

As you can see, there is a LOT to look at!  There are a lot of steps to this as well. Now imagine how to do this same type of installation on a block or concrete wall. Clearly you cant, so how will you address that type of shaft wall assembly?  Check in next week and we will go over this and introduce you to a great problems solving product.  If your contractors forgot to install the collar on the shaft liner side, you may be able to use this solution as long as the hole in the shaft liner is not a mess.

 

Remember, if you want us to take a look at your project to be sure you are on the right track, we are offering a complimentary review through the month of July.  Contact us for more information.

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Firestop in Shafts is Often Done Wrong, so Someone Asked, “How do We do it Right?” (part 1)

Thanks for joining us yet again for a continued discussion about firestopping shaft wall assemblies. The discussion today will continue along the question asked during the start of this never-ending series of “how do you properly firestop penetrations in a shaft wall”. If you remember a few weeks ago I told you, that for the sake of this discussion let’s say we are talking about a mechanical shaft so the penetrations might be 1) bare metal pipe 2) plastic pipe 5) insulated 7) ductwork.  If you think my numbers are not in the right order please look at this post so you understand why the numbers are in perfect order. Looking at these different penetrations will help you maneuver through firestop submittals much faster, so please become familiar with the UL nomenclature.

 

The last few posts were talking about the bare metal pipes- aka the 1000 series firestop details.  Today we will talk about the 2000 series details, which as you know are the plastic pipes.  Plastic pipes provide a whole array of challenges. This means they are easy to do wrong.  They are combustible and depending on the chemical composition of the material they will melt between 200F and 500F.  If you want to know more about how they are tested please check out the past post (be sure to read the amendment before watching the video). http://www.halpertlifesafety.com/how-rated-assemblies-are-tested/

 

First let’s tackle the gypsum wall applications. It will be critical that this be done in stages. For this discussion, we are going to look at a Hilti detail. The detail we are going to look at for this application is WL 2217.

 

Item 1: It allows for a shaft wall with 1-5/8” studs.

 

Item 2: It allows for maximum 4” PVC or CPVC.  I spoke with a contractor one time who said, “It lists plastic pipe, so its fine.” NOOO. This is not true.  When you are dealing with plastic pipes there is SO MUCH to look at.

  • the size
  • the material
    1. it must list the proper material if it only lists PVC then you can not use CPVC or any other type of plastic, pex, polypropylene, sprinkler pipes and the list goes on…and on….
    2. The right gauge or thickness- for example the plastic pipes used for IT are not the same as what is listed above, even if they are made of PVC hey are not likely the right schedule.
    3. If your field material is cellular core, you need to be sure the submitted detail allows that material to be used.
    4. If the submitted detail only lists closed or supply lines you can not use that detail for a vent or drain line.
    5. If your submitted detail is for a specific brand name of pipe, you can only use that detail with that brand of pipe. For example if the detail calls for a polypropylene pipe called Aquatherm, you may not use that detail with a different manufacturer.
  • The annular space MUST be adhered to and in some cases, it can be very restrictive. The larger the pipe, the more critical the annular space will be, except for polypropylene pipes, which are really combustible and require unique applications even on smaller pipes. By unique I mean more restrictive annular space and aluminium foil tape around the pipe prior to the installation of the collar.

 

That is a lot to take in and we have not even gotten to the firestop installation yet.  I am going to let you sit on this and throw any questions my way.  We will tackle the firestop installation next week, because there is a lot to share with you on that as well.

 

So have a great week, be productive and keep an eye out in the field for all of your plastic pipe installations. Next week we will go over what to verify when you are looking at the firestop installations. For now, the next time you are looking at a firestop submittal that includes plastic pipes, you now know there is a LOT to deal with.

 

If you want an extra set of eyes to look over a firestop submittal on your project, please give us a call.  We are offering free review and follow up phone call for your project. You just have to send us your firestop submittals and we can schedule a time for a phone conference.

 

It’s completely complimentary because we want to shed some light on how to do this right.  There is of course one catch.  This offer is only for contractors who have a desire to do things the right way.  If you want to cut corners, you don’t want us on your team.

 

If you want to build a strong team, we promise after just one project with us, your team will be stronger on their next project. We have been bloging on firestop since 2015. Wee have been sharing information, in hopes of improving this industry.  If you have a team of people who want to do this right, we guarantee that after one project with us they will be better able to:

  • identify problems before they are built
  • know how to resolve common problems
  • they will have a list of things to look out for (yes a physical list to check off- but that is only for our clients)
  • understand the codes related to firestop
  • know the requirements of special inspection
  • understand the handful of standards related to firestop
  • understand how to troubleshoot common problems
  • when to call for help, and who to call (it’s not always HLS)

If you need help, give us a call.  If you want to be sure you are heading in the right direction we can help you with that also.  We hope to hear from you if we can help.  We are offering a complimentary review for the month of July.

 

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Fire Moves Faster in Modern Construction- Wanna See?

You may have heard that modern house furnishings allow a fire to grow faster than in days gone by, but have you ever seen the difference? This video shows you just how much faster. It’s a shocking reminder that if there is a fire in a building you need to get out IMMEDIATELY. There is no time. Close your doors and get out.  Test your smoke alarms so they will work if you ever need them.

Watch the video here

This really hammers home the importance of both active and passive fire protection methods such as sprinklers and firestop.  If you need help getting your firestop right, give us a call. We can offer a great deal of support and we have been told that we save more money than our contract value. Making us more of an investment than an expense. Whether you are a developer, architect, GC, CM or even a sub who does their own firestop installation, Give us a call and see how we can help! 201-250-4193

 

Have a fantastic week everyone!

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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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