Deficient firestop can bring potential harm or citations to your facility, and should be corrected upon immediate discovery. Firestopping can be key to your facility’s life safety systems, and will help protect against a fire in the facility. However, often times facility employees may not realize that the firestop program they have in place may not be up to code, are using the wrong materials were used, or that the job is just plain messy. It’s important to educate facility staff on common firestop deficiencies so you can maintain safety in your facility and avoid any citation or consequence from The Joint Commission (TJC).
These top 3 firestop deficiencies could be affecting your facility:
Wrong Materials Being Used
One of the biggest firestopping mistakes that is most commonly made is using the wrong materials. Many believe that any type of red caulking is code-compliant for a firestop job, which is not the case. A mentality comes from “Red is Right,” however, firestop caulking has more characteristics other than the red color. Firestop caulking is specialized to resist fire, and plug up a hole for minutes to hours at a time, preventing the smoke or fire travel to the adjacent room. Regular red caulking that is not firestop material will not have this same effect, and may melt away and cause any smoke or flame through to the next room or hallway. When the smoke or flame is giving the ability to travel, it becomes stronger and makes egress for occupants much more difficult, which is why code-compliant firestop is so important.
Incorrect UL System Requirements
With over 5000 UL systems in existence, a non-qualified individual may be using the wrong systems for the specific firestop job at hand. The correct UL system will depend on the fire-rating of the barrier, penetrating item, etc. If the correct UL system is not in place for the fire barrier, it could affect its fire-rating and also contribute to non-compliance. Again, non-compliance will leave your facility at risk during a fire.
Mixing Manufacturers Products
Different manufacturers have different UL systems that are specific to their products. If the individual conducting your firestop is using more than one manufacturer on the same firestop project, that poses a huge red flag for TJC and will likely result in a citation. Mixing manufacturers is non-compliant because the UL systems will be incorrect. If you are doing your firestop maintenance in house, be sure you are only using one manufacturer, and are following their specific UL system requirements.
A good way to help maintain firestop code is scheduling quarterly or monthly maintenance, whether it be within the facility or with an outside contractor. Firestopping is vital part of passive life safety systems, and could be the difference between life and death if a fire were to occur in your facility. Even the smallest penetration that has not been firestopped can fill the adjacent room with toxic smoke in less than 4 minutes. Be sure that your facility is safe and compliant with regular firestop surveys and maintenance.