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Q: Why bother with fire protection?

A: It's the law and it's a basic human right in most countries.

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Vectorising Drawings and Maps; Paper to CAD

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Essay on Performance Based Codes

Master Spec. Section 07840 Firestopping

Related Sections to 07840

Penetration Seal Drawings

Building Joint Drawings 1

Building Joint Drawings 2

Building Joint Drawings 3

History of Firestops in North America

Warnock Hersey Experience

Firestop Trade Jurisdiction

Achim Hering Bio

Man Made Mineral Fibres

Fire Protection Industry Links

Firestop Products and Equipment

Firestop Mortar

Firestop Silicone Foam

Intumescent Products

Endothermic Products

Insulation Products

Caulking & Paint Firestops

Firestop Pillows

Firestop Devices

Firestop Slide Show 1 of 10 Basics

Firestop Slide Show 2 of 10 Code

Firestop Slide Show 3 of 10 No Seal

Firestop Slide Show 4 of 10 Deemed-to-comply

Firestop Slide Show 5 of 10 Misinstalled

Firestop Slide Show 6 of 10 Re-entered

Firestop Slide Show 7 of 10 Faulty Spec.

Firestop Slide Show 8 of 10 Proper Firestops

Firestop Slide Show 9 of 10 Test

Firestop Slide Show 10 of 10 Smoke and Trays

Sample Firestop Listing

Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning; Boiling-Hot Pressure Washing

ULC           UL

T O S

(Theory of Survival)

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TU Braunschweig iBMB

CONTACT

Fire Safety is one of the least popular items on the planet for people to spend money on. Those who do, or cause others to, generally have one or more of the following 3 objectives:

1. Life Safety

(minimim code requirement)

2. Property Protection

(owner's fancy)

3. Continuity of Operations

(owner's fancy)

High-Rise Residential Building on FIRE  Collateral Fire Damage - Victim on Stretcher

Fire Safety Objective 1:  Life Safety.

Building codes represent the minimum safety level, which is inherently  life safety. At the very least, the idea is to prevent casualties from flames and smoke.

Fire Safety Objective 2:  Property Protection

Property protection usually goes beyond the building code mandate and may be an insurance requirement or just common sense. An Example: Burning up nuclear reactors SHOULD be a no-no, both in terms of life safety and property protection. Keeping paper files from burning up may mean that if you want to do that, you have to invest in more fire protection measures than the building department or fire department can force a building owner to do. You can make things safer than the code, by law. Make your building less safe than the building code tells you to do, is illegal.

Fire Safety Objective 3: Continuity of Operations

Well, this is a combination of the above two. If you have a fire, resulting in casualties as well as loss of property, you could very well be out of business. Burn your plant but save your staff, you're quite possibly still out of business. Or being out of business for a certain length of time can cost an enormous amount of money and your competition may fill the void you have left behind, while you're not producing or serving your clients because you're fixing your plant. When we look internationally, we can see that sometimes property protection is valued more highly than life safety. Oil rigs for instance, built by some countries, have the living quarters in obviously combustible timber, while the equipment is fitted with enormously expensive and elaborate fire protection. It's all a matter of basic human motivations.

So how do we achieve any sort of fire safety in buildings? There are four basic building blocks:

1. CONTAINMENT

Firestopping is part of CONTAINMENT of fire. The idea is to stop fire in the area or room of origin. Walls and floors must be able to resist fire for a specified period of time. Firestopping keeps the holes shut. Fireproofing keeps the steel from collapsing. It may also keep cables or piping operational during a fire. Fire doors, dampers and even some fire-resisting windows ensure that fire does not find a hole through an otherwise integral wall or floor assembly. Fire retardants limit the spread of flame along combustible or semi-combustible surfaces. The basic construction of fire-resistance rated walls and floor, nevermind closures within them, is a regulated item. You can't expect a 2 hour fire-resistance rating from a tent wall, obviously. Each of the four parts or basic building blocks of fire safety are important. Only with a healthy dose of all of the above, do we approach real fire protection. Each of the four parts are interconnected, when we view the building as a whole, as a system.

2. PREVENTION THROUGH EDUCATION

YOUR reading this, is an example of Prevention, through Education. If you take over a hotel, wedge open the fire doors and run rugs through them, your lack of education or concern has just rendered the confinement in the place quite useless. In that scenario, you would also have committed a crime and assumed certain liabilities. If you re-enter firestops without properly re-sealing them: same thing. Re-entered and unrepaired firestops are no different from propping open firedoors with rugs and ('fusible') doorstops. If I confine the fire to the room of origin and then the sprinklers put it out, the system has worked. But despite the many parts of the overall fire safety plan enshrined in building codes, our system is a fragile one. It is easily defeated, by ignorance and/or placing money above safety. Trading dollars against safety occurs more times than any fire prevention officer wished it would. Why, if not for lack of proper fire prevention do so many fire-fighters and other victims die? Check this site once a year: http://www.nfpa.org . You can always look up the latest fatalities, many of them entirely preventable. The annual cost of fires in Canada is 11 Billion Canadian Dollars. Any of the parts of the fire safety plan can get defeated.

3. DETECTION

Smoke and fire alarms as well as carbon monoxide detectors, or in some cases human fire watches represent this category. 

4. SUPPRESSION

Suppression usually occurs by means of automatic systems, such as water sprinklers, CO2, foam deluge, as well as standpipe systems, which terminate in fire hose cabinets and may be accessed within a building. Like anything else, suppression systems must be certified as well as maintained. While the majority of examples are good, there are a few bad apples here too. For instance, there was a case of a sprinkler contractor in California who, for years, got away with hanging sprinkler heads on the dropped ceilings and not hooking these up to sprinkler branch piping. An owner can render a suppression system ineffective in a number of ways. Here is one example: Presume that a warehouse were built intended to store small quantities of lumber. The sprinkler system  is laid out for that 'fuel loading' then. There is a calculated and approved ratio of sprinkler heads versus per m² of floor area. Next, the owner packs the place full of flammables. In code language, this would be a change of occupancy, requiring a building permit. Why? Chances are, there are no longer enough sprinkler heads per m². The remedy would be to hire your one's sprinkler contractor to come back and re-design the suppression system to take the greater hazard level into account.

Anyway, back to firestops. What happens in a room in a real fire?

 What happens when a room is on fire?

We have fuel for our fire. It burns and gives off flames and smoke. If there is a lot of plastic, such as PVC, polyvinylchloride, the chloride part separates and bonds with moisture in the air. Hydrochloric acid forms, which is a killer. It also corrodes electrical contacts and can decimate electronic equipment. (Continuity of Operations&ldots;). Heat rises. We have higher pressure near the top of the room and lower pressure towards the floor. Somewhere in there, we have a neutral plane of pressure. This, by the way, is what is re-created in fire testing of certified fire protection products, such as wall and floor systems and firestops. If I have holes in the ceiling or at the top of the walls, the high pressure inside the room ensures that highly toxic, corrosive, re-ignitable flue gases are distributed way beyond that room. It does not take a lot of fuel to generate a lot of really nasty smoke. And that is what causes the majority of fatalities. If I have openings in the walls, closer to the floor, or in the floor, and they are not properly firestopped, I allow fresh oxygen into the room, to make things worse. Of course, if your building is held up with unprotected steel, this will first expand and then turn to spaghetti. That, by the way, also happens to steel cable trays, which is proven to shred anything less than a firestop mortar.  If you would like to see the back up on this phenomenon, please contact me.

 Penetration firestopping

The majority of openings come about as a result of through penetrations in otherwise rated and solid wall and floor fire separations:

We know what can happen when we DON'T firestop properly.

A REAL firestop is a complete system that has been tested to a nationally accredited consensus standard, conforming to a certification listing by an SCC accredited certifying organisation such as ULC, ULI, and, unfortunately, Warnock Hersey. Click on the link for more information on this particularly frightening topic.

 Building Elements Curve, similar the world over

Here is what firestops get exposed to in reality and in fire testing. Some of us question this particular test curve because it is ancient and based on burning timber. It is almost identical, the world over, including all of Europe, The People's Republic of China, Australasia etc. Different countries have different stories about the origin of the curve but basically this is what you get when you burn wood, although the testing is based either on gas (mostly) or oil (in some German labs for instance). But it really is quite nasty. Rest assured. There are only two instances where this curve does not fit the bill: hydrocarbon fires (i.e. in the oil patch) or jet fires (due to ruptured gas lines, for instance. Or if you build your building underneath a NASA rocket. There's a novel idea. But if you did that, we COULD keep the occupancy safe, given sufficient funding!

Firestops have to be certified and bounded for their intended uses. And just as importantly, the fact must be documented such that anyone at all can walk up to a firestop and instantly know what certification listing bounds the installed configuration. A firestop that works for a plastic pipe, may or may not work for a cable. A cable tray firestop may not do very well as an architectural expansion joint. There are many different types of openings and penetrants. They all have to be tested and certified and bounded for the intended end use. These are some types of penetrants and their resulting openings in fire separations:

 Types of Openings requiring Firestops

These are some of the basics. A little bit of knowledge is dangerous.

Keep clicking 'Next' at the bottom left of each page and feel free to look around the rest of the pages in here to get closer to the full picture. The sequence of these pages has a reason.

FIRESTOP SLIDE SHOW PAGE 1 OF 10

Next

(code interpretation for Ontario)

Back

(firestop main page)

Fire Protection Page

Main Page

Glossary

Contact

Main Site

Firestop Site

Code Evaluations AVAILABLE!

Glossary of Fire Protection Terms

3M Fire Barriers

Vectorising Drawings and Maps; Paper to CAD

Circuit Integrity Fireproofing

Bounding

Code Req's for Firestops

Essay on Performance Based Codes

Master Spec. Section 07840 Firestopping

Related Sections to 07840

Penetration Seal Drawings

Building Joint Drawings 1

Building Joint Drawings 2

Building Joint Drawings 3

History of Firestops in North America

Warnock Hersey Experience

Firestop Trade Jurisdiction

Achim Hering Bio

Man Made Mineral Fibres

Fire Protection Industry Links

Firestop Products and Equipment

Firestop Mortar

Firestop Silicone Foam

Intumescent Products

Endothermic Products

Insulation Products

Caulking & Paint Firestops

Firestop Pillows

Firestop Devices

Firestop Slide Show 1 of 10 Basics

Firestop Slide Show 2 of 10 Code

Firestop Slide Show 3 of 10 No Seal

Firestop Slide Show 4 of 10 Deemed-to-comply

Firestop Slide Show 5 of 10 Misinstalled

Firestop Slide Show 6 of 10 Re-entered

Firestop Slide Show 7 of 10 Faulty Spec.

Firestop Slide Show 8 of 10 Proper Firestops

Firestop Slide Show 9 of 10 Test

Firestop Slide Show 10 of 10 Smoke and Trays

Sample Firestop Listing

Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning; Boiling-Hot Pressure Washing

ULC           UL

T O S

(Theory of Survival)

DIBt

TU Braunschweig iBMB

CONTACT

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