QA Inspections for Firestopping

The model code organizations, International Code Council (ICC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each require special inspections for fire firestopping of penentrations and joints. These inspections are required to be conducted to ensure that the proper firestopping system has been utilized and installed properly.

Where is the requirement stated?

NFPA 1, Chapter 12, section 3 states that inspections must be conducted to ensure quality assurance for penetrations and joints.

The International Building Code, Section 1705.16 requires verification and inspection of fire-resistant penetatrations and joints.

When is an inspection required?

NFPA requires inspections of penetrations and joints, “In new buildings three stories or greater in height…” Additionally, fire-resistance rated assemblies in high-rise builidngs are to be visually inspected every 5 years.

The International Building Code, requires these inspections in all high-rise buildings (75’ high and over), and all buildings assigned a Risk Category of III and IV.  Buildings within these risk categories are those structures that “represent a substantial hazard to human life in the event of failure,” or those “designated as essential facilities”.  A complete list of these structures can be found in IBC 1604.5.

What inspection criteria is required?

These inspections will be conducted based on the following ASTM standards:

  • ASTM E2174, Standard Practice for On-site Inspection of Installed Fire Stops
  • ASTM E2393, Standard Practice for On-site Inspection of Installed Fire Resistive Joint Systems and Perimeter Fire Barriers

Additional Resources

5 Step Fire Door Check

Fire Door Safety Week is giving these tips for a 5 Step Fire Door Check that anyone can do:

  • Check for certification Is there a label or plug on top (or occasionally on the side) of the door to show it is a certificated fire door? You can use the selfie function on your camera phone or a mirror to check. If there is, that’s good news, otherwise report it to whoever is in charge of your building.
  • Check the gaps Check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm when closed. You can use a £1 coin to give a feel for scale, this is about 3mm thick. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm is not uncommon), but if does depend on the door - as a rule of thumb, if you can see light under the door, the gap is likely to be too big. It’s good news if the door fits the frame and it’s not damaged. If not, report it. If the gaps are too big smoke and fire could travel through the cracks.
  • Check the seals Are there any intumescent seals around the door or frame, and are they intact with no sign of damage? These seals are usually vital to the fire door's performance, expanding if in contact with heat to ensure fire (and in some cases smoke) can’t move through the cracks. If not, report it - the door may not be properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not protect you long enough.
  • Check the hinges Are the hinges firmly fixed (three or more of them), with no missing or broken screws? If you see problems, report it - the door is obviously not properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not perform and hold back the fire for long enough.
  • Check the door closes properly Open the door about halfway, let go and allow it to close by itself. Does it close firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame? If not, report it. A fire door only works when it’s closed. A fire door is completely useless if it’s wedged open or can’t close fully.

If you think the building you're living in, working in or visiting has a faulty fire door, don't walk by. Report it to whoever manages or owns the building. You could save a live that day.


Testing Fire Doors

This video shows three different doors tested under the same conditions. 

  • Door A - incorrectly glazed
  • Door B - correctly glazed and installed
  • Door C - ordinary letter plate and no intumescent seals. 
When installing/maintaining fire doors you MUST use 3rd-party certificated doors, frames, seals and ironmongery which are appropriate for the door leaf.


Fire Door Safety Week 2015

Fire Door Safety Week is all about raising awareness of this critical element of fire safety in every commercial, public and multiple occupancy building.

This initiative aims to raise awareness of the critical role of fire doors, drawing attention to specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance, and encouraging building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their fire doors and to report those that aren’t satisfactory.

There are about 3 million new fire doors bought and installed every year. Fire doors are often the first line of defense in a fire and their correct specification, maintenance and management can be the difference between life and death for building occupants. However, they remain a significant area of neglect, often the first thing to be downgraded on a specification and mismanaged throughout their service life, propped open, damaged and badly maintained.

 Consequently, Fire Door Safety Week seeks to engage and educate people, helping every property owner to understand the correct specification, supply, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors.

For updates on the campaign and the many events scheduled throughout the week, follow Fire Door Safety Week on Twitter or search for tweets with hashtag #firedoorsafetyweek.

What's your MAQ?

For companies, organizations, or operations that store and handle hazardous materials answering the MAQ question is critical. The MAQ is the "maximum allowable quantities" of hazardous materials that may be stored, used, or dispensed within a single control area. Allowable quantities and process for determining the MAQ is outlined in NFPA 1, Chapter 60.

"HazMat" by clement127

Unless you deal with hazardous materials on a daily basis, "allowable quantities" and hazardous materials sections of the code can be daunting and overwhelming. Once you understand the basic components and process it becomes quite simple and straight-forward. Determining your MAQ can be broken down into a 4 step process.

Step 1. Determine your occupancy type.

Maximum allowable quantities can vary based on the type of occupancy that the materials will be stored or utilized in. There is a separate table for each of the following occupancy types:

  • Assembly
  • Educational
  • Day-care
  • Health care
  • Ambulatory health care
  • Detention and correctional
  • Residential
  • Mercantile
  • Business
  • Industrial
  • Storage
These tables begin at NFPA 1:  For modifications, or occupancies not covered, reference Table

Step 2. Determine the material type. 

NFPA 1:60.3.1 lists 14 hazardous materials classifications.  Determine which one of these classifications your hazardous material falls into:

  1. Corrosive solids, liquids, or gases
  2. Flammable solids
  3. Flammable gases
  4. Flammable cryogenic fluids
  5. Inert cryogenic fluids
  6. Inert gases
  7. Organic peroxide formulations
  8. Oxidizer solids or liquids
  9. Oxidizing gases
  10. Oxidizing cryogenic fluids
  11. Pyrophoric solids, liquids, or gases
  12. Toxic or highly toxic solids, liquids, or gases
  13. Unstable (reactive) solids, liquids, or gases
  14. Water-reactive solids or liquids
These are each defined within chapter 3 of NFPA 1 and in our Glossary of Hazardous Materials Classifications.

Step 3.  Determine the material class.

Many of these materials are further broken down in to classes.  These classes can be based on the state of the material, or the potential hazard it possesses.  These classes are defined in the materials definition (NFPA 1:3, or Glossary of Hazardous Materials Classifications).

Step 4.  Determine the material state.

Some hazardous materials can be stored, used, or dispensed in different forms or states. Determine whether your material is a solid, liquid, or gas.

When we put these steps together, here is how the process should work:

As the owner of "Widget Business Solutions", I find that there is a need for organic peroxides on site.  I start by going to the table in NFPA 1: This table outlines the MAQ per control area in Business Occupancies.

In the "Material" column I find 'organic peroxides'.  I see that there are different allowances based on class.  Further, research into my product reveals that this is a Class III organic peroxide (these burn rapidly and present a moderate reactivity hazard).

Next I need to determine in what state the material will be in.  Per the table, the only options available are Solid or Liquid.  I choose to utilize this material in its solid form.  Under the column labeled "Solid" I see that I can house 1,500 gallons of Class III organic peroxides.

When working with Hazardous Materials, you may find our Glossary of Hazardous Materials Classifications to be helpful --> click here to download.