We have blogged about plastic sprinkler pipes in the past but it’s so easy to get it wrong, that it warrants more information. As always, we have a story for you, but before we get to the story however please know that despite the fact that we are mentioning two manufacturers in the story, we are NOT saying one is better than the other or showing favorites in any way. These are just the facts of the story as it played out in the field for us and could for you as well.
I was doing special inspection on a wood framed project where the installer was using STI’s WF300. This is a great material for wood framed projects. It’s cost effective and relatively versatile in wood framed construction. We had our submittals showing the listed details for each application they were using in the field. Towards the end of the project the contractor had the laborers make a supply run to finish up the final touches on the firestop. This is where our problem began.
After being in the industry for 20 years, a slight change in that iron oxide red causes one to take a closer look. The plastic sprinkler pipes came through a rated assembly and was firestopped like the other penetrations, but there was a slight difference in the material they used. Just barely enough to warrant a closer look, but just enough to see clearly, they used something different. Further discussion made the problem clear and rather serious.
Allow me to change gears for a moment and then we will bring these two discussions full circle.
CPVC pipes such as Flowguard, BlazeMaster, Corzan and TempRite are developed by Lubrizol. They have two great websites that you should keep handy if you work with projects that use plastic sprinkler pipes or CPVC.
This first one lists materials that have been tested and found to be compatible with these types of plastics.
This next one lists materials that are found to be incompatible. There are a handful of firestop products on this list. One of them is 3M’s CP25WB. Again, this is not a bad product, it is just not the appropriate material in this scenario and there are plenty of other materials on the list, so 3M is not alone. The problem is that the chemical compatibility can cause splits or holes in the plastic pipes. If the sprinkler pipes don’t start to leak before the sprinklers are needed, the change in pressure when the sprinklers engage will certainly test any system and one with small holes could impact water pressure and prevent sprinkler systems from performing as designed.
Here is another blog post on this topic in case you would like additional information.
This news article is just one of several that touch on the topic of compatibility issues.
So now that you have a little more background let’s get back to the story we started, back to our jobsite. The contractor sent a laborer to a local shop to get the firestop material they needed to finish the job. Certainly, on the shelf there was CP25WB and IC15WB. CP is red and IC is yellow. They knew that if they showed up on site installing yellow firestop that the inspector (aka me) would ask them for new firestop submittals for this new and different material, so they went with what seemed like the easy route.
When we returned for the inspection and noticed a slight difference in the color and started asking questions the installers brought the tube of the material they had used. They used CP on the CPVC pipes and as you can see from the links we shared; this creates a problem. Now that the materials have made contact the compatibility issue is present and you can’t just remove the sealant and replace it with the right red stuff or even the yellow stuff. You have to replace that section of pipe. If you don’t believe me, check with the various manufacturers or even your own corporate legal or risk management team.
It is not clear what this contractor chose to do, but after being informed of the issue and the potential severity we hope they chose to do the right thing.
Welcome back everyone. On Monday I left you with a bit of a challenge. I asked you if you could use WL1222 for a firestop application for a metal pipe going through a gypsum shaft wall. Then, I told you that the answer to that first question was NOPE, but I asked you to look closer at the detail to find the reason, and then I LEFT YOU.
The suspense is over, keep reading and you will find not only why you can’t use that detail, but we will share a detail that is applicable and a few cautions about the proper use of this detail.
Were you able to identify WHY you can’t use the WL1222 for a shaft wall application? If not, look at the detail once more, but this time focus on item 1A. Please click on the link above and open the detail so you can look at it.
Did you find the answer this time?
How many shaft wall assemblies have a stud that is 3-1/2” wide?
If you are thinking that the gap doesn’t matter, you need to tune in to a future blog post about T ratings. That discussion will take me into several different directions; so, I will side bar that discussion for a later date, but hopefully some time this year.
For now let’s just say that if your field conditions don’t match your paperwork then you are non-conformant. If you are non-conformant then you are creating a position of liability for your company and whatever company you are working for regardless of whether you are an installer, inspector, GC or owners representative.
For now, let’s get back to identifying the right solution. In this case, our contractor is using STI firestop. We know this because item 3 of WL1222 lists LCI and also because the firestop detail has the STI logo on it. Again, I don’t have a favorite firestop manufacturer. I have favorite sales people and favorite products but not a single favorite manufacturer. My stance is, if they have the tested and listed details to support whatever project I am working on, then they are good for my project! Even if I am stuck with a sales guy I don’t like, I still have resources within the various companies to get what I need. That said, it has been a while since I have run into a sales person who has not been capable, qualified, professional and helpful. They are out there, but I have been lucky enough to not run into them.
Since our installer is using STI, let’s try to stick with this manufacturer as we look for a detail. In this case when we go to their website, or contact the sale rep, the search for me ended with WL1251. Please click on the link and have a look at this detail. Take a moment to think about the things you want to be sure the installer does right.
Item 1 in this detail allows for C-H or C-T studs that are min 2-1/2” wide and 1-1/2” deep (item 1A). Item 1C offers a caution that the circular cut out cannot be larger than 10”.
Item 2 notes a sleeve. It does not say OPTIONAL so this means the sleeve is a requirement. If you don’t have one of these fun toys I suggest you get one because it will help you verify that the sheet metal is the proper gauge. This detail says you must have a min 30 gauge galvanized sheet metal sleeve.
Item 3 is the penetration and the annular space. Obviously a larger pipe or different type of pipe than what is listed will not be acceptable for use with this detail.
Item 4 is where you will find the information about how to install the firestop material and what is required
If you have a 6” pipe centered in an opening that is 3” larger than the pipe, you will be okay. However if you have an 8” pipe in the same scenario you would not be able to use this detail because in 1C it says the opening can’t be larger than 10”. This means that despite the fact that the detail allows for a max 2” annular space you cant have more than 1” all the way around if you have an 8” pipe.
- The sleeve is a requirement and not optional:
- If you don’t use a sleeve then the mineral wool and sealant will not stay in place during installation.
- If you tell me that the wall cavity is already filled with mineral wool so you don’t need the sleeve, then you are not thinking about what will happen in a fire scenario after the shaft liner has burned away and the mineral wool falls out along with the burnt gypsum board. The sleeve is a requirement for a reason, don’t let the installer skip this part.
- You need to ensure the gauge of the sleeve is accurate.
- The overlap on the sleeve needs to be 2” minimum in order for it to:
- Comply with the detail
- Be expected to maintain its integrity in a fire scenario when we remember the fire side of the wall is going to be gone as the fire rages
- The sleeve has to be long enough to be captured both by the shaft liner as well as the outer layers of the shaft wall. If it is too short you may have a problem in an actual fire scenario.
The only caution I have to share with you here is to be sure that the annular space is sufficient to allow for the installation of the mineral wool and the required sealant.
- If you are on a stick built project and the roofers are using 2pound density mineral wool on the roof, DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO BE USED FOR FIRESTOP. Installers may tell you, “it’s the same stuff….it’s rotten cotton” What they are missing is that the detail calls for a minimum 4pcf and I have yet to find a firestop detail that allows the use of 2pcf. It is probably fine for roofers, but it is not okay for firestoppers.
- If you have the chance to watch the installation, you need to be sure the mineral wool is recessed 1” into the wall so there is enough space to install the 1” of firestop sealant.
- If annular space is tight, installing 1” of sealant will be tough, if not impossible
That was with a gypsum wall. Below is a detail for a concrete or block wall. Take a look at the detail. What are the critical items you will verify if you are doing an inspection?
Is your head spinning yet? I will go easy on you with the next post. I promise! But if you are wondering how to firestop shaft applications, this is valuable information and we have only addressed the 1000 series details. These are the EASIEST details to deal with in our mechanical shaft application.
Thanks for reading this all the way to the end. I know there was a lot here. See you next time for more firestop information.
Here is the second part of the post earlier this week. Hope this gets your creative minds whirling and if you come up with anything good I am happy to connect you with a firestop manufacturer or even a test lab to make something amazing happen. Check out the challenge here.
If you want to learn more about protecting commercial kitchen exhaust or the new requirements for AHJ’s with the need for firestop special inspection or when they are required we have some classes for you to consider. If you want information on other classes provided by DCA please see this brochure. Sharron is excited to be teaching these two classes again this year. I know we will be talking about codes and standards but we actually manage to have a bit of fun.
In our last blog post we talked a little about shaft walls, what they are made of and some things to keep an eye out for. We will build on that as we go.
Today we are going to look at firestop submittals as they relate to shaft wall assemblies, so the next time you are reviewing project documents you will have a better idea if something is missing. The easiest way to understand this discussion is to quickly review the UL nomenclature post found here so this will be easier to follow. If you do not know this nomenclature its much more difficult to conduct this exercise.
First let’s think about the RATED JOINTS. Let’s assume that the project has both block shafts and gypsum shafts. As you look at the firestop submittals pull out the HW (head of wall) details and look for the types of shaft walls you have on your project. For this discussion we will assume you have both gypsum and block shaft walls.
You will likely have a handful of HW details but if you have gypsum shafts you need to be sure the project has a detail for firestopping this gypsum shaft. When you look at the WL details for gypsum walls, you will notice it is not like the standard gypsum wall details, namely because the shaft walls are built differently so they need to be firestopped differently as well. This will require sealant at the shaft liner as well as on the outer layers of drywall. If you allow this wall type to be firestopped when the wall construction is complete, you will not have a compliant system because you will only have protection from one side of the wall. This would create a major liability for the installer as well as the GC, building owner and building occupants. If you are looking at a WL2000 series detail for plastic pipes, be sure to take a closer look, but do the same for all your penetration types.
If you have access to both sides of the wall, as you would in an elevator shaft, then it is easy to firestop the head of wall joint on a block wall from either side of the wall. Likewise you can firestop your through penetrations with either a CAJ or WJ detail. If you only have access to one side of the wall, you will need what is commonly referred to as a sandwiched detail and my guess is that it will likely be a WJ detail or possibly an engineering judgement. This would allow for firestop to be installed in four steps. Typically there would be installation of mineral wool recessed maybe 4-1/2” into the joint, then firestop sealant (let’s say it calls for ½” of sealant) then another layer of 3-1/2” of mineral wool followed by another ½” of sealant. There are 4 steps to this installation, which means 4 steps to any firestop inspection as well, unless the inspector wants to try to cut into this kind of joint application, which is going to be a challenge in and of itself. This also means that the firestop detail needs to show installation from one side if this is what the installers are doing.
That is what you expect to see when you are in the field, but when looking at the firestop submittals you need to be sure that the block wall detail that is provided can actually be installed on the project. Is it physically possible? You need to be sure there is a head of wall, bottom of wall and possibly a wall to wall detail for the gypsum assembly. It is not uncommon for a contractor to miss these details, so be on the lookout for them.
Next, think about what penetrations will be going through your shaft walls. The block and concrete walls often will not have access from the inside of the shaft so a sandwiched application needs to be used in many cases, though there are devices that can be used and installed from one side. If we are working on a project with you then we can help you determine which different manufacturers products would be best for various scenarios. Let’s say your stairwell walls are block or concrete. This means the firestop details you will need will start with either a CAJ or a WJ (potentially WK for thicker walls). You will need a 1000 series detail for your sprinkler pipes and conduits, unless you have plastic sprinkler pipes then you will need a 2000 series detail as well as a 3000 series for your MC cables. You won’t need a 7000 series detail for your ducts because they are going through a 2 hour wall and will require dampers. Pull out these details and be sure that if you only have one side access that the details will allow one sided access for the installation requirements. If not, you will need an Engineering Judgment. If you are in NJ, remember DCA does not allow EJ’s- sorry NJ.
Typically firestop installers will submit details for the various penetrations through a standard wall. These may be okay if the shaft wall type is included in what is allowed in the listed detail. If it is included, then you are fine, and if not then they need to submit a new detail. This will be found in item 1 of all details. These details will start with WL for gypsum framed walls and if it is a mechanical shaft you will likely have WL 1000 for metal pipes, WL 5000 for insulated pipes, maybe WL 2000 for plastic pipes. When doing the installation or inspection of these walls you will want to be sure to check annular space and sealant depth to be sure it conforms with the details. You will also want to be sure the installer firestops the shaft liner side before the outer two layers of drywall go up as you will see in one of the later posts.
We have given you a few things to be cautious about, but in our next post we will dig deeper into this and the building code. If you have questions about a recent firestop submittal please contact us for help.
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 email@example.com.
HOPE TO SEE YOU IN PRINCETON!
Firestop can serve a number of unique features that are not directly related to STOPPING FIRE. A properly firestopped residential property can reduce the noise from a loud neighbor. It can reduce the wandering smells from a bad cook. In hospitals it can reduce nosocomial infections. This is the idea that you go into a hospital with a broken arm and leave with a cast and the worst case of the flu you’ve ever had. It can also save your life, even when there isn’t a fire.
There was a case in Orlando FL where residents were very lucky. They were lucky that one family was smart enough to recognize something was wrong and go to the hospital. The neighbors were lucky that a nurse was alert enough to notify emergency responders to ensure other neighbors were not in danger.
So, what happened?
Construction workers left a generator running and the residents suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. According to NJSHAD around 500 people die every year in the US as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. There was another case where a man decided to commit suicide by leaving his car running in his garage. His garage was attached to his house and his house was attached to the neighbor’s house. His attempt to end his life also cost the life of his entire family and his neighbors young family.
The same way that a properly constructed and properly firestopped building can reduce the transfer of both sounds and odors, it can also reduce the transmission of deadly gases not only during a fire but also in a case such as these.
So, make sure your firestop is done right, install detectors and check the batteries regularly.
If you have any questions about your property and whether or not the firestop is being installed properly, don’t hesitate to contact us.
It’s a New Year, so I thought I would play around with a new medium. I have pulled up a few old videos from various training segments I’ve recorded in the past 5 years. Here is a brief general discussion about how rated assemblies are tested. There is so much more I want you to know about this, but this is not a bad start and it segues into some of the older blog posts we have shared.
In order to make this information practical, so you can use it in the field, please remember that knowing how assemblies are tested helps you understand how they fail when not properly installed. Think about the hose stream test when you are looking at applications with large annular space, with insufficient annular space or installations with just a smear of sealant. These are both critical to the performance of a firestop installation. The various hyperlinks will bring you to different segments for further discussion if you are interested in learning more.
Please share this with anyone you think might benefit from this information.
As always, if you have any questions or even topics for future blog posts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are happy to help when we can.
UPDATE: Jan 6
I want to give a HUGE shout out to RICK BARONE for making a correction for me. This video clip was edited from one of the first classes I did when I started teaching again, and as with most things we are new at, there were errors. I noticed it during editing a few months ago but forgot to comment on it when I posted it. Rick says it better than I could so I will just include his comments here and say THANK YOU RICK. I love when people support others to do better.
“You have some inaccuracies in the video…The time temperature curve is controlled by the test facility….If your test specimens furnace isn’t at 1000f at 5 minutes it will be because the lab tech didn’t maintain the time temp curve within the prescribe tolerance. The customer doesn’t fail, the lab must abort the test and rerun..usually at their own cost if they are a credible lab…but a nice start with a new communication vehicle..” Rick Barone 1/5/2017
This is the second in a four part series helping explain the difference between Fireproofing, firestopping and fire blocking. As the firestop blogger, of course parts 2 and 3 are on first through penetrations and rated joints. Check out the new blog post here. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you again. Contact me here.