Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Common Firestop Mistakes in Passive Fire Protection

For many large-scale areas like hospitals, schools, college and university campuses, and nursing homes, passive fire protection plays an important role in keeping fires contained and compartmentalized in order to keep them from spreading

Passive fire protection systems use a series of “fire barriers” - fire-resistant walls and floors, often installed through multiple rooms - to keep a fire contained, but unfortunately if these barriers are not properly installed and sealed with the appropriate firestops, they can be compromised, rendering them useless in the event of a fire.

Where Are Firestops Installed?

Firestops are commonly used in passive fire protection systems, and can most commonly be found:

  • In areas where plumbing, electrical wiring, of parts of a building’s mechanical system must pass through a fire barrier.
  • Areas that may only pass through part of the fire barrier, such as sink drains, conduits from walls or ceilings, and outlet boxes.
  • Areas where building elements meet within fire-resistant floor or wall assemblies.
  • Firestops which have been reopened.

If a fire barrier has an area which hasn’t been properly sealed it may fail to contain gasses, smoke, and even flames. This allows the fire to spread more quickly, increasing damage to the property and reducing the time building occupants have to escape to safety.

Why Do Firestop Mistakes Compromise Fire Protection?

When a new building is under construction passive firestopping systems are included in the building plans, which are then evaluated and approved by building code officials. This means that if any renovations or upgrades take place once the building has been built, any new or altered penetrations to the fire barrier need to be firestopped in order to maintain the integrity of the passive suppression system.

Unfortunately, maintaining a passive fire suppression system and ensuring that any changes to the system are firestopped is one area where many business fail to follow up.

This oversight generally isn’t due to negligence, but a lack of understanding around the proper codes and requirements around maintaining a passive system.

That’s why it’s so important to work with qualified fire safety experts like the technicians at Bison Fire Protection. We work with your business on an ongoing basis to ensure that every component of your fire suppression system is always up-to-date and up to code.

Common Firestop Mistakes

Does your business or building have a passive fire system installed? Then take a look at this list of common reasons why firestop mistakes happen, and what you can do to prevent them:

Using the Wrong Materials

Firestopping systems can be purchased from a variety of manufacturers, but with more than 5,000 approved firestops available, it can feel daunting to choose the appropriate system needed for the type of penetration expected and the fire rating of the barrier.

Some important rules to follow when choosing the materials used in your forestops include:

  • Make sure that all materials are approved be a nationally recognized testing facility for the specific firestop to be installed on-site.
  • Never substitute approved items and materials with non-approved items like concrete, expandable combustible foam, or other materials that don’t meet fire rating standards.

Improper Installation

Neglecting to properly follow the UL or ASTM system requirements for installing firestops is the most common mistake businesses make when it comes to properly maintaining their passive fire systems.

It may be tempting to cut corners, but by following the instructions to the letter and being detail-oriented, you can make sure that your system is adhering to the appropriate codes and standards and working as expected in the event of an emergency.

Neglecting to Document Your Work

One of the other common issues businesses make when it comes to maintaining their firestops is neglecting to document the system and materials used when installing the firestop.

Not only is this information necessary during routine inspections, but these details play a critical role in ensuring that any repairs or replacements needed are done with the same materials. If your firestops haven’t been documented, you can consult your building construction plans to avoid having to expose your firestops for inspection.

Firestop inspections Are a “Must” for Businesses

All firestops must be inspected and approved at the time of construction, upgrade, and renovation. Annual inspections are also required in order to make sure that any damage, alterations, breaches, or penetrations are properly repaired and upgraded.

Maintaining your firestops is essential to reducing the damage that can potentially be caused by a fire, which means working with qualified experts to maintain and repair your passive fire systems.

For more information about how to maintain and repair your passive fire systems and ensure that your firestops are protecting your staff, business, and investments, contact the experts at Bison Fire Protection at 204-237-3473 or email at to schedule an appointment with a fire safety expert.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:17 AM


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