Useful Tips to Become Firestop System Savvy
Firestop systems are critical in protecting buildings during a fire. Designed to prevent fires from spreading horizontally or vertically within fire-resistance-rated walls or floor assemblies, firestops close down passages through which fires would otherwise spread. Besides saving property damage – and potentially lives – during a fire, firestop systems are also a building code requirement that requires both inspection and maintenance to maintain compliance and safety.
Why are Firestop Systems Important?
Firestop systems are critical in building construction, for three main reasons:
- They are a building code requirement.
- They can save lives.
- They can limit losses during a fire.
By separating areas within a building from each other, firestop systems play an essential role in slowing down a fire’s spread and can also slow down its smoke and toxic fumes. Firestop systems need to be included in the design of a building and are an integral element of its safety.
General Tips for Firestopping
- DO establish policies and procedures for firestopping and review them regularly. Keep them updated and available for your staff to find and use.
- DO ensure your procedures reconcile with manufacturers’ specifications when you are discussing products like putties and caulks. Be sure not to exceed product limitations.
- DO contact local building inspectors and fire marshals before you start a job to make sure you know the area’s fire code. Spend the time now to save time later.
- DO verify that a reputable testing facility, preferably nationally recognized, has approved all assemblies and materials that you plan to use.
- DO take photographs at the penetration to document your work, in case less careful work is performed later that violates fire code, or is otherwise unsafe. Protect yourself from liability.
- DON’T drill your holes too small. When you are drilling holes for core-drilled conduit, you need to drill them so that they are larger than the sleeve.
- DON’T use the wrong insulation. Use mineral wool batt insulation, not regular insulation.
- DON’T keep a fire code violation going. Inspectors may blame you for all cables running through a noncompliant fire barrier, not just the ones you installed.
- DON’T exceed a sleeve’s fill capacity.
- DON’T switch out products from one manufacturer’s system with those from another’s. They may not be interchangeable.
When you are selecting firestop systems, it’s best to choose one made for the actual conditions of the building. The best firestop systems match in terms of materials, building configuration, and penetrating item. Sometimes, if you are unable to match the firestop system to the building’s conditions, it’s best to find the one that is the closest match, and discuss with the local building inspector or fire marshal.
For 30 years, HoldRite firestop systems have been used in many different types of building projects, including residential, commercial, and institutional properties. HoldRite prides itself on converting makeshift methods into engineered solutions that can offer you a higher degree of safety while complying with today’s code requirements. The HydroFlame firestop sealants, wrap strips, putty pads and pipe collars are HoldRite’s latest offerings of UL-listed water, smoke, and firestop product systems that protect properties from water intrusions by providing a water seal that also impedes smoke, gases, and fire. Also, with its patented telescoping design and locator whiskers, the HoldRite HydroFlame Pro Series transforms the installation of cast-in-place firestop solutions.
A critical component of a firestop system, firestop sealants are used to seal around joints and openings in a fire-resistance-rated floor or wall. Firestop sealants, like HoldRite’s HydroFlame 100 & 200 Firestop Sealants, protect horizontal and vertical construction assemblies, protecting them from smoke, flames, and gases. HoldRite also offers HydroFlame 50 Smoke & Acoustic Sealant, for use in sealing around penetrations in non-rated vertical and horizontal construction assemblies.
Without firestop systems, buildings would suffer much more damage from flames, smoke, and water during a fire. Firestop systems can limit losses, may save lives, and help buildings comply with code requirements. Finding the right firestop system and firestop sealant is critical in constructing a building that complies with the applicable building code and provides a safe place for residential, commercial, or industrial use. In the plumbing industry, HoldRite is recognized as an industry leader and category expert in many of the products it offers, including firestop systems and firestop sealants.