As a facilities manager, you have a lot on your plate, especially when it comes to fire and life safety. One of the best ways to help protect both the integrity of your building and its occupants is through the use of compartmentalizing your facility.
Fire walls, partitions, and smoke barriers are designed to help prevent the spread of both fire and smoke in the event of a fire emergency. However, gaps and holes from penetrating items allow for both fire and smoke to spread quickly throughout the building. Therefore, properly installed firestopping will help maintain the integrity of a wall by sealing off any holes and gaps to minimize the spread of fire and smoke.
Firestopping has become a key component to a building’s over all fire and life safety system. Firestop materials are used to seal up any spaces that surround penetrating items, such as plastic pipes or wires. This items will even melt or change shape during a fire, which is why some firestop materials will also expand in the presence of heat. This swelling action seals and stops the spread of fire and smoke to other rooms and even floors within a building.
Common Firestopping Materials:
- Sealants - (Silicone, Latex, Intumescent)
- Wrap Strips - (Thick, Thin, Wide, Less Wide)
- Composite Sheets
- Bricks / Plugs
- Pre-Fabricated Kits
- Spray Products
Unfortunately, the main cause of failure in fire barriers is unprotected or improperly protected openings from penetrations. If a building’s fire barriers have not been properly maintained, then fire and smoke will spread quickly causing unnecessary property damage as well as putting people’s lives in danger.
The International Fire Code requires walls, floors and ceilings must be repaired when damaged, altered, breached or penetrated. Any penetrations found should be repaired with approved methods capable of resisting the passage of fire and smoke.
Common Firestopping Issues:
- Incomplete firestopping
- Mixing manufacturer’s products
- Improper Installation – firestop caulk
When using the proper equipment and doing it right, firestopping can help to seal off and stop the spread of fire and smoke in the event of an emergency.