How to overcome firestop issues in healthcare facilities
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When it comes to barrier management compliance, firestopping penetrations seems to raise the most concerns among facility managers. According to our recent poll, 49% of facility managers believe firestopping is the #1 problem preventing complete barrier compliance in their facility.

We asked: When it comes to barrier management compliance which of the following presents the most problems for your facility?

49% voted firestopping, 40% voted fire doors, and 11% voted fire dampers.

In this blog we will address the top firestopping concerns voiced in our poll results.

“There are many reasons that door and door frames invariably appear on the list of deficiencies during health care facilities audits. To begin, the standards applicable to door and door frames are numerous, complex, and sometimes confusing.”
The idea that firestop just patches holes in walls dangerous. This mentality is one of the problems healthcare facilities face. Unlike other life safety materials, firestop is the only code-required product that is installed by almost every industry.

Often, electricians, plumbers and other workers are not experts in firestop application and do not have knowledge of UL system requirements. They might not know that the same caulk used for a plastic pipe penetration may not be adequate for a steel pipe.

The UL Fire Resistance Directory contains over 3,000 UL systems, and at least 60 different firestop manufacturers to choose from. Each firestop systems, penetration, and penetrating item are a contributing factor in choosing the correct UL system.

If you are not comfortable choosing UL systems, working with a specialty firestop contractor is great option. Firestop contractors are true specialists; after all, this is what they are trained to do. A reputable firestop installation company knows the codes, products, and UL systems required to complete the job in a code compliant manner. In addition, specialty firestop contractors will bring the correct products with them to the job that will adequately address the penetrations in your facility. Specialty firestop contractors, allow you to avoid the hassle of working with vendors who are often just trying to sell their product, and not what’s best for your building.
“Firestopping is constant, and must be followed up after many other jobs, such as running a new water or electric line.”
Often facility managers do not even know that a penetration was created in their facility, because the job was scheduled by a different department. Penetrations are created everyday in healthcare facilities by maintenance personnel and various contractors, but who is following up and ensuring firestop is applied.

Ceiling Access Programs are the perfect method to combat unreported penetrations in your facility’s fire barriers. Implementing a ceiling access program in your facility allows facility managers to track what type of work is happening, who is performing the work, their qualifications, and where the work is taking place in the facility.

Many facilities that utilize the above ceiling work permit system require the personnel performing the work to go through a certification process. Once completed, certified individuals can submit a request for an Above Ceiling Work Permit. On the permit they must identify the type of work and location in the facility. Once approved, the project can begin and the workers are required to follow strict life safety code requirements. Upon completion of the work, the permit is then signed and turned into the facility management team. This is a great example of one ceiling access program, but there are many variations that can be effective.

Above Ceiling Work Permits provide facility managers a system with which to track the work being performed in their facility, and when it is completed. This program also helps to educate other departments about the importance of firestop. Ceiling access permits provide a detailed report and location of projects, which allows facility managers to follow up and ensure the proper firestop methods were implemented.
“Firestopping is constant, and must be followed up after many other jobs, such as running a new water or electric line.”

Healthcare facilities are continuously being upgraded and modified with new equipment, cables, water lines and more. Ensuring that penetrations are properly firestopped can become a “constant” job.

The ideal way to ensure that your fire and smoke barriers are compliant is to set up a firestop maintenance plan, especially in facilities where there is the potential for many unaddressed or unknown penetrations. Firestop Maintenance Plans allow you to focus on certain zones or floors of your facility, on a quarterly or monthly basis.

It is important for facility managers to identify problem areas in their facility—hot spots that always seem to have penetration problems such as server rooms, etc. Firestop maintenance plans help facility managers to keep an eye on these problem areas, to ensure firestop is properly applied and not forgotten.

A maintenance plan ensures that the fire-resistance ratings of your fire barriers are upheld, allowing for safe egress of building occupants and minimal damages in the event of a fire. In addition, maintenance plans save you time and money by breaking up the work over a period of time.

In Summary, how can a facility manager combat firestop issues in healthcare facilities?


Share the importance and purpose of firestopping with all departments

Utilize Above Ceiling Work Permit System
Identify problem areas or hot spots & check on them regularly
Implement a Firestop Maintenance Program
Hire a specialty firestop contractor to ensure proper installation

 

PREVENT Life Safety has over 15 years of firestopping experience. Our team is trained and certified in using multiple manufacturers, ensuring your barriers are properly sealed using the appropriate UL systems. PREVENT’s technicians are experienced working in sensitive healthcare environments and utilize strict infection control procedures. Call 1-877-392-6074 today to discuss your firestop needs or request a quote online.

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