Quick Tips #387
During a fire, a small hole in a wall or floor can result in smoke filling a room in a matter of minutes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Smoke is the leading killer in a fire emergency. Approximately 75% of fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation. Firestop products were developed to prevent the spread of smoke and fire through walls or floors.
Firestop describes products or materials used to help maintain the integrity of a fire barrier, such as a wall or floor, when a penetration is made through the barrier by conduit, cables, pipes and ducting. Firestop products are used in office buildings, hospitals and other commercial buildings. The application of firestop products is governed by several standards including:
ASTM E814 – Methods for Fire Tests of Penetration Firestops.
NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code.
NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code.
ICBO – Uniform Building Code.
BOCA – Basic/National Building Code.
SSBCCI – Standard Building Code.
UL 1479 – Fire Tests of Through-Penetration Firestops.
UL Fire Resistance Directory – Penetration Firestops System (XHE2) and Fill, Void or Cavity Materials
When using firestop products, they must be applied in a way that follows the methods outlined in the standards mentioned here. This is particularly true for ASTM E814 and UL 1479. If the application strays from these methods, the firestop may fail in a fire. Local Fire Marshals and Building Inspectors may request proof that these standards are being followed and that a firestop is applied correctly. The manufacturers of firestop products offer installation guides and technical documentation that shows how these products meet the required standards.
Firestop Product Types:
Penetration Sealants – are intumescent sealants that are primarily used to seal around metallic pipes, conduits, tubing and ducting that have penetrated a fire wall or another fire barrier. They can also be used for small non-metallic pipes, conduits and tubing. These sealants have a fire rated range from two to four hours and are made in a variety of colors.
Joint Sealants – are used to seal joints in a fire wall or another fire barrier. They are intumescent and elastomeric.
Pillows – are intumescent and are used as a temporary repair for a large opening in a fire wall or barrier. They can also be used when future access is expected.
Pass Through Devices – are self-adjusting intumescent cable pass-through devices that eliminate the need to reinstall or adjust firestop materials. These are useful when future cable penetrations through a fire wall or barrier are expected.
Sleeves – are used for cable penetrations through a fire wall or barrier. They are supplied with intumescent putty which remains soft and easy to remove for future cable penetrations.
Cast In Devices – are installed during the construction phase of a building. They are cast in fire walls and barriers where pipe and cable penetrations are expected.
Composite Sheets – are intumescent sheets used to repair medium to large openings in a fire wall or barrier. They can be cut to size and in irregular shapes if desired.
Pipe Collars – are used for large plastic pipe penetrations through a fire wall or barrier. They contain intumescent material that seals up the opening if the plastic pipe is destroyed in a fire.
ASTM – American Society for Testing and Materials
Elastomeric – is any material that is able to resume its original shape when a deforming force is removed.
Fire Barrier – is a barrier such as a wall or floor assembly this is designed to limit the spread of fire and smoke.
Firestop – is a product used to maintain the integrity of a fire barrier when a penetration is made through it.
Firestop System – is a specific construction consisting of a wall or floor assembly, a penetrating item passing through an opening in the wall or floor assembly and the materials designed to prevent the spread of fire through those openings.
Intumescent – is a material that expands with heat.
NFPA – National Fire Protection Association
Penetration – describes any item such as pipes, conduits, cable, and ducting that penetrates through a fire barrier.
UL – Underwriters Laboratories
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. Are firestop sealants only red in color?
A. No, firestop sealants are available in a variety of colors. Choosing the right sealant is based on application, not color.
- Q. What is the difference between firestop sealant and high-temperature sealant?
A. Firestop sealant is intumescent and designed to prevent smoke and heat from penetrating through a fire wall or barrier. The intumescent activation occurs at temperatures around 250° F. High temperature sealant is design to keep its shape and adhesive properties at high temperatures. They are used to repair or seal equipment that operate at high temperatures such as ovens, fireplaces and furnaces.
- Q. Who can I contact to find out the correct firestop products to use?
A. Your local Fire Marshal and Building Code Inspector are the first line of resources to contact for information on the proper firestop products to use. Additional information can be obtained from firestop manufacturers and suppliers.
Sources for Information:
Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at www.grainger.com/quicktips.
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The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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