Firestopping Penetrations Through Shafts- Are you getting it right? Part 4


Welcome to a new week. Last week I threw a lot at you for a seemingly simple topic.   I hope that now, you understand a little more about how easy it is to get these installations wrong and what to look for on your next field walk.


Today I want to tell you why shafts are so important. I work mostly in concrete and steel structures. The bigger the project the happier I am.   The total dollar value of projects I have been on in the last 12 years has just broken $18 billion. Yes, that’s a B. This is a testament to how much I love BIG projects.


It doesn’t matter if you have a shaft that cuts through 2 floors or 30 floors, shafts are critical to the life safety of the building.


The floor is going to have a 2-hour rating. This means that if there is a fire, we expect the fire to stay on the floor of origin for at least 2 hours giving the occupants time to escape and in the US, giving the first responders time to do their job a little more safely. The penetrations through this two-hour floor must all be closed up and more often then not this should done with some firestop assembly. One exception to this rule is when we take the rating of the floor and run it up a shaft wall and connect it to the floor above. This means that if a fire starts inside the shaft, that fire, smoke, toxic gas and heat can access all the floors the shaft cuts through. In my mind the firestop in shafts is a critical factor to the level of life safety in a building. If these firestop applications are not done correctly the occupants of every floor the shaft passes through are at risk.


If firestop contractors are allowed to install firestop using methods that have not been tested, they are putting the building occupants and our first responders at risk.


Firestopping the 1000 series details are the simplest applications out there. In the last two blogs we have shown you that the proper installation for these simple applications entails a number of critical steps.


Now you understand why the IBC Chapter 17 on special inspections is in the codes. If you have a project with a special inspector, I challenge you to show them any WL1000 series detail with a 3-1/2 shaft wall and ask them if they can use THAT detail for a shaft application and see what they say. If you have a firestop specialty contractor, ask them the same question. If you have a plumber, mechanical contractor or electrician doing their own firestop scope of work please know that (with absolutely no disrespect to those trades) they are trained to work in their trade. Their trade does not include firestop. If you have a project that requires special inspection you probably want to be sure to hire a GOOD specialty contractor for a handful of reasons:

  1. You have one point of contact for all things firestop
  2. You probably have one firestop manufacturer on the job
  3. You are more likely to have someone who has some level of training and experience- both of which are going to be invaluable


If you want to take your project to a whole different level, consider hiring us to consult on your project. We will review your firestop submittals to be sure everything you need is documented – or at least if it is not, we can give you a list of what is missing. We will hold a preconstruction meeting that will help hold all the players accountable. We will share a list of best practices and we will help resolve conflicts before they happen (as much as we can, there is always that hairy monster that sneaks up on you at some point.) We are a single point of contact for all of your firestop problems.


If you have a project in the NY/NJ area and you wonder what it might be like to have us on your project, give me a call and I’d be happy to show you. From now until the end of June I will offer a complimentary site walk so you can get an idea of what your project’s weak points are (if there area any) and whether or not having us on your team will be a help. On projects with great contractors who want to do things right but maybe don’t have the knowledge, we can make a dramatic change for less than $20,000 and support you through the entire project. If you get resistance from your contractors but still want them to do it right it might cost you a bit more, but we can still give you the support you need to get it done right.


If you are not in the NY/NJ area and you think you are missing out, call me anyhow. We can offer you a complimentary review of your firestop submittals. It is amazing what those little pieces of paper help me tell you about your project.