Firestopping Penetrations Through Shafts- Are you getting it right?

Thanks for reading along so far. We have covered a lot in this series on shafts and hopefully you have been able to put some of this to use in the field. Next up, let’s look at what you should see when you are walking in the field looking at all that firestop stuff. Let’s put all this information to work for you.

 

First, you must have the firestop submittals if you are going to review (or install) firestop. The submittals should have UL listed details (or other third party testing agency – OPL or WH) that show the firestop requirements for all of these shaft applications. If you don’t have the details, you can’t properly evaluate the field installations.

 

Let’s walk a site together (You will need to use your imagination here). Say we are on the 5th floor of a hotel project. We are looking at a mechanical shaft. We have bare pipes and insulated pipes stubbing out of the wall to provide water to the bathroom. The shaft liner is up, but there is no firestop on the pipes. We go up to the 6th floor, the drywall is on the outer layer of all the shafts, but they have firestopped only about half of them. As you walk down the hall you see an area where they have not yet firestopped the penetrations into the shaft wall and you can see that they have not firestopped the shaft liner side. This is a problem. Firestop is required on both sides of a wall.

 

Let’s take the same scenario, but this time they did have firestop on the shaft liner side on the 6th floor. However, when you were on the 5th floor you noticed that the hole that was cut for the small, insulated copper pipe is just big enough to get the pipe and the insulation through. The insulation was almost touching the cut edge of the drywall all the way around. You don’t have firestop submittals for the project so you can’t tell that the detail requires annular space of 0-1/2” and what you have in your field condition is continual point contact.

 

If you don’t understand why this is a big deal please review the previous post here. If you are not familiar with how firestop is tested however I suggest you start here because this is the start of that series.

 

If you want to scream at me, “SHARRON YOU CAN’T USE ANY OLD WL DETAIL FOR A SHAFT WALL!!”, check out two posts from now when we address this. If you are not one of the people wanting to scream this at me, then definitely tune in because this is something that even some good contractors might miss.

 

Let’s get back to our field walk. The other thing you can’t see is that the firestop detail calls for 5/8” of firestop to be installed within the annular space. Since there is no annular space there is no way to achieve this depth requirement.

 

You have some problems.

 

The first problem is that you don’t have your firestop submittals, so you can’t reference what is required when you talk to the installer.

 

Second, they have created an installation that either cannot be firestopped properly or may require a more expensive solution.   Of course, if we are talking about a gypsum wall, its not a big deal to make the opening larger (even though the contractor will fight you on this). If you are dealing with a concrete or block opening it will be more difficult for obvious reasons. However, if that opening is sleeved, it may not even be possible to fix.

 

Please also remember, if you are looking at a block wall, they will have to firestop both sides of the wall, or one side but do it two times. This is true both for joints and for through penetrations. If it is a shaft, you likely can’t get to the inside to check on the installations, so you may need to go to the bottom of the shaft before it is closed off to get a look, or you can conduct destructive testing to confirm that it was done right. Please also remember that the firestop details have to match the field installations. If they don’t, it is non-conformant and should not be allowed.

 

I thought this was going to be the last post on the topic. However, since the start of this series I have had a few people ask me some questions. The most prevalent is, “Okay so then HOW DO WE PROPERLY FIRESTOP SHAFT APPLICATIONS? “

 

We will address this in the next few blog posts. If you have any other questions, concerns or photos of WHAT DO WE DO WITH THIS? or IS THIS OKAY? Keep the feedback coming because I have a handful of issues to bring up for you once we complete this series.