Fires of any size can wreak havoc on commercial and industrial spaces. They put the safety of workers at risk and cause permanent damage and destruction to your machinery. Smoke is an even greater threat than the flames themselves. Smoke and toxic gases make up 50-80% of all fire-related deaths. As commercial and industrial spaces work diligently to mitigate the risk of fire damage, their design must also include precautionary measures to stop the spread of smoke.
Firestop seal penetrations in fire-resistant walls and floors help to stop the spread of fire, smoke and gas. Fireproofing requires meticulous installation to accommodate electrical wiring, plumbing pipes and mechanical systems. Facilities must fireproof the entire building, not simply rooms with the highest fire risk. This requirement is supported by the fact that 57% of the people killed in fires are not in the room of the fire’s origin at the time of the outbreak.
Even companies that recognize the importance of firestop are prone to common application mistakes and misuse of materials. Building plans tend to focus on fire barriers but overlook firestop strategies. Keep in mind four of the most common firestop mistakes so you can prevent the devastating effects of fire damage.
1. Too Little or Too Much Annular Space
Annular space is classified as the space, or gap, between the firestop and opening of installation. Unfortunately, the variables associated with too little or too much annular space can be deadly. Factors such as the size and shape of the installation opening and the type of firestop penetrant all play a role in the effectiveness of the firestop method.
In addition to poor performance, improper installation can cause smoke or fire to leak through a gap in the wall. As a result, smoke orfire may spread quickly into other parts of the building, placing more people at risk. To prevent this firestop installation hazard, choose a firestop made from a malleable material that can easily expand and contract.
2. Materials Not Tested for Firestop
Cutting corners when it comes to fire safety will cost teams big in the long run. Contractors who are not familiar with firestop installation may resort to using materials that are not tested or approved by a third party. They may assume that a building product has a firestop function. However, building materials used to seal joints, like drywall, do not necessarily provide fire protection.
The most immediate risk is that these types of materials don’t meet U.S. model building codes and will fail inspections. In the long run, of course, the risk can be fatal for workers. The best solution is to educate contractors so that they know how to properly identify materials with firestopping capability.
Each of Distribution International’s products offers a detailed product description and specifications list. t. Commonly known as a “Product Data Sheet,” this document confirms that the product has been tested and certified according to industry standards.
3. Mineral Wool Not Properly Installed
Most fire-resistant systems are sealed with mineral wool. As such, these systems stave off leakage of smoke and gas, particularly in areas that may be weak or contain cracks, including floors and ceilings. The wrong density of wood can cause weakness in the floor or ceiling. In turn, the area becomes more susceptible to fire damage. If the mineral wool is not properly compressed, this can also increase the risk of fire.
When using mineral wool, contractors must make sure it’s suitable for the specific application and that it is installed per the manufacturer’s instructions. DI offers an extensive line of mineral wool products, including wool batt, board, and pipe insulation solutions.
4. Forgoing Firestop Methods
Firestop may seem like an ancillary precaution, but it is absolutely essential to the health and safety of any commercial or industrial space. Inspections often reveal walls and ceilings with no firestop. Incomplete education about the importance of firestop often means that the execution gets lost in translation. Multiple contractorsare often working together on projects, which can muddle roles and responsibilities. Although it’s rare, contractors sometimes try to cut corners by forgoing firestop methods altogether.
Workers must receive proper training and education about firestop applications. Training should cover various intumescent sealants, mortars, composite sheets and wraps and so on. DI’s 101 Webinar Series offers in-depth education on all modes of installation, led by industry experts. In addition, architectural documentation typically notes firestopping installation. All contractors should consult with this documentation as soon as they arrive on-site before beginning any installation project.
Distribution International provides full inventory selection, specific to your region. Find the firestopping products that are right for your next installation project. Register or log in to Distribution International’s online ordering system, CustomerConnect, to find out more.