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.

Read More...

Are you building Shaft Walls right? Part 2 (Build It)

Welcome back, clearly you are one of the teams who want to be sure you are building right. This series is addressing shaft wall construction because it is so critical to the life safety of your projects.  The last video talked about how shaft walls are tested differently so that when we talk about how they are built differently, in this video, you have a different level of understanding of why things are important. Check it out here!

Read More...

Are you building Shaft Walls right? Part 1 (Test It)

You know shaft walls are built differently than other rated wall assemblies, but did you know they are tested differently too?  Understanding this difference will help you understand why the need to be fire stopped differently as well.  Shafts are critical to the life safety of your buildings. They impact multiple floors, so they deserve a little more attention. This video series is designed for those of you who want to do things right. We hope this will make it a little easier for you to understand how to evaluate field installations and ensure they are built properly. Check out the video here and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to give us a shout. We are happy to help if we are able.

Thanks for your time.

Read More...

Firestop Special Inspection- Architects Responsibility

If you are an architect, this video; which is the last in our three part series, is designed to help you understand the requirements as they are called out in the ICC Special Inspection Manual as they are related to the requirement for third party special inspection of firestop pursuant to the IBC 1705.17

If you are an architect or a building official, we hope this video series helps you do your job a little more easily.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us!

Read More...

Firestop Special Inspection- Building Officials Responsibility

If you are an AHJ- Authority Having Jurisdiction; a building official or fire marshal, this video is for you.

This is the second in our three part series. It is designed to help you understand the requirements as they are called out in the ICC Special Inspection Manual as they are related to the requirement for third party special inspection of firestop pursuant to the IBC 1705.17

If you are an architect or a building official, we hope this video series helps you do your job a little more easily.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us!

Read More...

How are you patching your 1 hour rated walls?

Today’s Topic- How do you properly patch a one hour rated wall?

 

Hi everyone. I hope you are doing well despite the lock down and virus. We are breathing easy over here and I pray that the same is true for you, your family and your teams.

 

I have been capitalizing on this time to develop a new skill and I can’t wait to share the results with you. It will be some training videos.

 

One of them will discuss the difference between regular drywall and type X, another will talk about type X drywall vs type C.  Since that is all coming down the pike in the next week or two, I wanted to share somethings that will compliment that discussion.

 

Once you have built a rated wall at some point in time its likely SOMEONE will poke a hole in it. This could happen during construction if someone decides to relocate a pipe for example.

 

So how do you patch it. If you ask the Gypsum Association, this is how you should patch a rated wall. Please take a moment to look over this so you understand. One of the videos that will be coming  will talk about how rated walls are tested, but the one that I hope to get to you first will talk about the difference between regular drywall and we will have a complex discussion about fire dynamics that is actually kinda fun. For now, I will leave you with this from US!

 

Next week we will talk about how to patch a two hour rated wall, because those are really different.

 

https://www.gypsum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/GA-225-15.pdf

 

Read More...

Firestop Movement New Test Criteria

Have you ever wondered if building movement may impact a firestop installations ability to perform?   Fire rated joints have movement listed as part of their systems, but until now the through penetrations did not. There is a new test standard that will address this missing element.

ASTM E3037 is an interesting new standard that may be valuable to architects, engineers, specifiers and others.  It looks at the movement that a firestop system can (or can’t) accommodate.  It looks at movement in two directions.

  1.  in and out of the assembly
  2.  perpendicular to the assembly

I have a handful of questions and you likely do as well. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out as people start to apply it in the field.  Here is a great start to understanding what this test standard is, how it is conducted and possibly applied.

Thank you to UL and Luke Woods for putting this video together for everyone.  You can watch it here.

 

PS thanks to John Valiulus for sharing this

Read More...

T-ratings

If you have been following this blog for a while you are likely familiar with T ratings. If you aren’t, you can check them out here. If you already know about T ratings, you can skip that link if you prefer.

I cant tell you how many projects I have been involved with that don’t adhere to the T-rating requirements in the building code.  People say, “We’ve never done that before.”, too which I historically responded with, it’s been in the codes since before the IBC (which was adopted in 2000- I believe the city of Phoenix was the first to adopt the new code.) but the T rating requirements existed before the IBC. What I didn’t know was WHEN were they first introduced and why.  That is until I met Glenn!

 

If you have been following this blog, you likely know that I am a total code geek?

Well so is this guy, Glenn. He takes it to a whole new level because he has a stash of old code cooks. That makes him the perfect guy when you have a question about code history. I wanted to know when T ratings first came into the codes.  Glenn was able to tell me. Check out this awesome video he shared if you want to know for yourself.  Follow him on Linked in, YouTube or any venue you like.

 

Read More...

New Standard for Architects to Spec- Part One

Architects are always trying to cover all the bases when they write their specifications. I am not an architect, but occasionally I am asked to review a project specifications.  There is a new ASTM Standard that I would recommend for architects who want up to date specifications. The International Firestop Council has taken the time to write a piece on the topic so I wanted to share it with you all.

IFC FS Installer Guide ASTM E3157

If your specifications say that installations need to conform to ASTM E3157 then you cover all the bases for good installations such as following a firestop detail, cleaning the substrate, troweling the sealant, using the right backer material and much more.

If you would like more information on it check out the link for the article by the IFC. If you want more information about firestop, go to the IFC website.  Check back next week for another suggestion for architects specifications you might be interested in.

If you are a code official, remember that once you have approved a set of plans and specifications, then the build team is legally obligated to provide the level of quality in the construction documents, so even if you can enforce it per the building code, you can based on the approved specifications the owner and architect have agreed to for the project.

Keep learning and keep improving!  If we can help don’t hesitate to contact us!

Read More...

Dear Architect- Why are you asking for a W rating

I have seen so many project specifications requiring a W rating. If you don’t know what a W rating is, please read this first.  If you are already familiar with a W rating, do you know if it a requirement on your project?  I recently looked at a wood framed project and there were W rating requirements. Clearly the architect has stock specifications that don’t take into account the fact that a wood framed project is NOT going to be capable of mitigating water movement in the way a concrete floor might.

 

But lets say you are dealing with a concrete floor, then W ratings are a viable requirement…except, when they are not.

 

Remember the test for a W rating is a three foot column of water that prevents even a single drop of water for 72 hours.   If the specifications say as a blanket statement that a W rating is a requirement of floor penetration firestop systems, then what about a bundle of cables? What about MC cables? What about insulated pipes, the brackets to support the weight of multiple floors of pipes will break well below the three foot mark and how might one maintain the W rating with a break in the insulation, or with insulation that can’t hold back water such as fiberglass or other field installed insulations?

 

If you have been in construction for a while I am sure you can think of other examples when W rated firestop is not a reasonable requirement.

Im not saying stop asking for W ratings, because they are amazing. I could tell you some stories where they were a HUGE success. But be aware of the limitations and if you specify it, know what you are asking for. If you have a project that has W ratings specified and no one is asking questions, then my guess is they are not conforming with the specification.

 

If you have any questions feel free to contact us. We are happy to help if we are able.

Read More...

More on patching rated walls (part 2)

Thanks for the great response on the last post related to patching rated walls. There is a lot more I want to share with you in the future but I have to find time to create the content. I heard back from so many of you that you liked the post I thought I would at least share some more information  that is already created so you can take it a step further.

Three key reasons the California patch will fail in a fire test scenario:

  1. It will fail at the hose stream test. For more information on this, check out this series we did a while back on Hose Stream and imagine that patch, or any patch you accept being able to pass the hose stream test as it is described in these posts from 2016.  https://halpertlifesafety.com/firestop-inspection-f-rating-hose-stream/
  2. It will fail when you try to achieve the T rating- which is required of all rated walls and floors. There is a bit of information in this article here.
  3. As the drywall patch (or GOD FORBID drywall tape and mud excuse for a patch) heats up in a fire it will shrink. As the existing wall dries up it shrinks as well. When this happens the gap between the existing wall and the patch material grows. This makes it easier for the patch to dislodge during the hose stream test and this gap will allow hot gasses through and that is how the T rating segment of the test will fail.

So, the next time you see a patch in a rated wall, please take a second look to ensure it is not creating a liability for your project and the community of people who will live work and play in the building when you are gone.

As always, thanks for taking the time to learn more about the industry I love. If we can help you on any project you are working on, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Read More...