Reviewing a Firestop Submittal or Installations (part 1)

If you are an architect, a builder, an engineer or an inspector, if you have the responsibility to review firestops submittals, this series of videos will help you. We will break down the UL nomenclature and talk about how to use this new information effectively. Here is the first in this new series.

Let us know what you think, what topics we should cover or any questions you may have.

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.

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.

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

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.

Insulate your AEC firm from Terrorism Liability

We are so excited to be able to bring this new opportunity to the construction industry. This is a revolutionary way to protect your firm and your clients from. It is a new way to differentiate your company from your competitors with a new SAFETY Act protection.

There are an array of SAFETY Act protections. Typically they protect the developer of the anti-terrorism device, as well as the owner of the building who deploys it.

That changed last fall with the development of a new Qualified Anti Terrorism Technology that is the first to have implications for the architectural firms, their consultants, the general contractor and their subcontractors as well as the building owner.  This is a pretty exciting change for the AEC industry. It is a way for an architect or general contractor to differentiate itself from others. Read more about it here.  If you would like to take advantage of this new opportunity, contact us. We will be limited to the number of projects we can take on in the first few years.

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!

Isoclima HVAC Line Sets- If it’s used on your project you must read this!

Okay, I am going to vent for a moment.  I think this is the first time I have done this on my blog and this has been going since 2015. I am really frustrated with a certain company’s inability to respond to multiple requests to share information on thier product.  At this point, I can only assume that they are not sending me the requested information because it would incriminate them.  I could be wrong, but I am very suspicious at this point.

Have you ever seen this material on your jobsite?  I’m talking about the white foam that is going through the wall in the picture here.

This is an HVAC line set called Isoclima or Isopolar. You can check it out here.  During a recent site walk, we ran into this.  I had never seen it before, so obviously I had heaps of questions.   I figured it would be simple, contact the manufacturer and get the information we need.

What information do we need?

Well, we know there is a small copper tube inside the insulation, but since it is not clear what type of foam material the insulation is made of; it is not possible to identify what UL Listed detail we can use. The scary part is that whatever insulation this is, may have never been tested in the first place.  Even worse, there are some types of insulation that can not be firestopped at all because they won’t survive the fire test. (ASTM E814).

 

So, I thought it would be easy, simply email the company and ask what material is used for the insulation?….Has it been tested for flame spread and smoke development? Has it been tested to ASTM E814?  Three simple questions that let me know how to move forward.

 

The problem, is that the manufacturer has not responded. I have emailed them once a week for the last four weeks and I receive an automated email response thanking me for my query. I have four of them sitting in my in-box but not a single response to the questions I posed.

 

That can only lead me to believe that they have not tested it to ASTM E814, which means there are no firestop details. That’s not a HUGE deal, we just need to get the proper paperwork from the firestop manufacturer, except they are going to want to know what the insulation material is and we can’t share that information with them because the company who knows has been utterly non-responsive.

 

If you find this material submitted for use on your jobsite I would not allow the use until you can confirm it is possible to firestop it when it passes through rated assembly.   Bear in mind I am not saying that you CAN’T use this.  I’m just saying, without the proper documentation, you are creating a tremendous position liability.  As you make this choice you should also be aware that some of these foam insulations are incredibly flammable. Which makes me want to snag a scrap and see what happens when you try to light it.   If I manage to get sample and do my test, I will keep you posted.  If you decide to do this, be sure to have a fire extinguisher and/or a bucket of water and remove anything combustible from the test area.  Be safe, but let me know what the results are.

 

In the meantime if you encounter anything new on your jobsite and you want to know more about how to firestop it properly…please send me photos and information so we can share it with others who are interested.

 

All the best and thanks for checking in with us!

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.

Let’s talk about Prohibited Penetrations (part 5)

Just for this post I have unleashed the code geek. Be scared (no…not really- its painless I promise). After we talk about the code we will discuss the things to look for to ensure your team is conforming to the code.

 

First let’s clear up the difference between an opening and a penetration. An opening (IBC 2015 713.7) is a hole with a purpose such as a door or a window. Doors and windows are tested to their own standards when acceptable for use in a rated assembly. Note that there is a difference between the test for a horizontal and a vertical opening protection the same way as there is a difference between firestop assemblies. You cannot use a horizontal and a vertical assembly interchangeably. For instance, if you have an access door that you want to put in a mechanical shaft you cannot use that same door in a rated horizontal assembly, unless it is tested for that specific application. Its all about fire dynamics; they simply are not the same in each orientation.

 

IBC 2015 713.8.1 is on prohibited penetrations and basically says that any penetration in a shaft has to have something to do with the purpose of that shaft.

Here are a few things I have seen.

I was looking at a set of plans with an architect. I asked him if his fire extinguisher cabinets were surface mounted or recessed. Turns out they were semi-recessed and they created a code violation because they were located in the shaft wall assemblies. He relocated them outside of the shaft and all was well with the world (or at least with the extinguisher cabinets).

I mentioned this scenario in a class and someone asked if they could just use a rated extinguisher box. It is a great question, because this is a common misconception. Please remember that the rated extinguisher box or hose box allows you to have a giant hole in a rated wall and not have a code violation, except if that wall is a shaft…then it’s a prohibited penetration. If you have a hose box or an extinguisher box in a rated wall it must be a rated box as well. This is a whole different blog for another time though because there are a whole series of issues we need to talk about related to membrane penetrations. We will get to that later though.

 

What other things should you look for that are common prohibited penetrations?

Interestingly enough, most of these are membrane penetrations like the extinguisher cabinet. It could be corridor lighting, the magnetic hold open apparatus on smoke doors, exit signs and anything along these lines. These are not serving the purpose of the shaft, so they are prohibited in the wall assembly. This needs to be addressed early in a project or it can create serious headaches down the road.

 

Now if these same membrane penetrations are in your means of egress, they are relevant to the means of egress and therefore not a code violation. A mechanical shaft has to have mechanical pipes coming out of it to service the floors, it may need to have an access door and all of that is okay provided you are using a rated access door. The mechanical shaft does not have to have corridor sconce lighting and if it does, then you, my friend have a code violation.

 

Heads up gang, that prohibited penetrations section that we talked about with shafts relates to means of egress as well. If you have a duct or pipe that runs from one side of the corridor to the other side and doesn’t service that area then you have a code violation. In this case, however, the exit sign, mag hold and corridor lighting would not be a code violation because those things presumably serve a purpose in the corridor.

 

In our next post we will do an imaginary field walk and talk about what we might see.  If you would like some help pulling all of this together don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help on your project.