This is a liability that we find on most large projects. Would we find it on yours? (Part 4)

We have been discussing the fact that larger non-insulated non-dampened ducts are often not firestopped correctly.  We have discussed the problem, the resolution and how to identify the documentation to ensure the resolution is correct.

Someone recently asked me how this could be missed for so long and by so many.  The answer is simple, no one reads the details closely enough to know.  Combine that with the fact that inspectors are overworked to the point that they don’t have time to read every firestop submittal.  If the inspector doesn’t tell you it’s wrong, then you assume it must be right.  That makes sense and you can’t blame the installers for thinking this way, anyone would.  You can’t blame the local inspectors, because they are overworked and have a lot on their plate every day.  Sure, there are probably a few lazy ones here and there but as a general rule, the inspectors I’ve met all want to do their job and do it well.

On a union jobsite the mechanical contractors install the duct.  The insulators come in and firestop around the duct and they think their scope of work is done..except it isn’t.  The last step on the UL listed detail, that their company submitted for the project, requires this angle we have been discussing. But the insulators union guys can’t start installing angle without treading on the tin knockers turf.  No one bothered to tell the tin knockers they needed to install angle.  This is by NO means a knock on the unions; because you will find the same problem on non-union job sites, except then in some ways its worse. The non-union shops have no excuse for not completing the scope of work required in the UL listed detail.  They are not treading on anyones turf.   This is one more reason you need to make sure you hire competent contractors and competent inspectors.

So, with the advent of Third Party Special Inspection for Firestop, one would hope these common issues would be remedied.  My fear is, that too many people who already do third party special inspection of other elements on the job site will readily accept firestop inspection work without understanding what all is entailed to inspect the installations.  Do they walk the site with the firestop submittals?  Do they look at every point in the UL details?  An inspection firm should not accept this scope of work without truly understanding it.  If they are on site to do other testing, it makes sense they would accept this additional scope.  It makes it easier for everyone involved because they only have to call one contact for all the inspections.  If the inspectors are not well trained, then they will not be able to pick up on the seemly small issues that, as you now can see from the last three blog posts, is not a small issue at all. Instead it is a liability for all involved.

Check out this blog post for a simple question you can ask of your firestop installers or even your third party special inspector.  It’s one simple question that allows you to know that they have a basic understanding of firestop essentials. Tune in for future blog posts that will give you even more questions to ask.

If you missed our other blog posts, please review them here. Part 1Part 2Part 3,

In the meantime, keep learning, keep doing better and help us continue “Saving Lives for the Life of your Building!”tm

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Halpert Life Safety Consulting LLC’s

“Saving Lives for the Life of your Building” TM

Our mission is to make a colossal impact on the level of life safety of your building and on the talent of your people. We provide consultation, training, quality control and third party special inspection related to firestop and passive fire protection. We consult for the building industry in the New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) metropolitan area, as well as across the United States and internationally.