A Beginner’s Guide to Firestopping
Firestopping can be one of the most difficult jobs you are faced with when conducting maintenance and inspections in your facility. There are many different codes and specifications that go into knowing which UL system to use depending on the penetration, and how to do the job right to help protect your fire barriers. We’ve pulled together the most important questions our customers have asked and found the answers that will help future facility managers in this guide to firestopping.
What is Firestop, and why is it important?
Firestop is a maintenance technique that is designed to help protect the integrity of fire-rated barriers and floors. When penetrations are made in fire barriers to run cables, wires, or for new construction, the fire barriers are vulnerable to the passage of smoke and flame in the case of a fire. When fire barriers are properly firestopped, the chance of fire and smoke passing through to the adjacent room or hallway are much more unlikely, leaving clear outlet for occupants to exit the building safely.
Which code specifies firestop requirements?
NFPA codes 80 and 101 each outline different requirements and specifications for proper firestop installation. Under both codes, it is stated that any penetration in fire walls or barriers to be treated immediately with the proper UL systems. In addition to code, there are also requirements for which materials can be used and the method to which they are applied dependent on the UL system. It is also important that materials are never mixed between manufacturers, and the UL system is followed thoroughly.
What do firestop ratings mean?
There are three different levels of firestop ratings.
F-Rating – Flame Rating F-Rating is the measurement of how many hours the barrier is able to withstand a fire before it is consumed by flame, or the time before smoke is able to make its way through the barrier. According to NFPA 101, any firestop materials used on a barrier must be the same F-rating at the barrier, but not less than 1 hour.
T-Rating – Thermal Rating T-Rating is also measured in hours, but the number represents the length of time the temperature on the non-fire side exceeds a certain point. This is to ensure that the side of the wall away from the flame does not reach the flash point of any materials on that side of the wall.
L-Rating – Smoke Rating L-Rating is the amount of air that is able to leak through a penetration. The number is measured in cubic feet per minute. This is considered a relatively new rating to fire barriers, but is the most important since smoke is the deadliest element in a fire.
If your facility has undergone any new construction or changes, have a plan in place to address newly-present penetrations. These penetrations are not only required for immediate repair by code, but could also leave your facility exposed to tragedy. Protecting the fire barriers is crucial to your life safety systems, so they can work in conjunction with fire doors and fire dampers in the outbreak of a fire. For more information on firestop and firestop maintenance, contact PREVENT at 877-392-6074 or visit us or request a free quote.