Firestopping materials are sealing products that take up imperfections of fit or design tolerance between the fire-resisting fixed elements of a building to restrict the passage of fire and smoke. They continue to take up the imperfections of fit at all times and have the same fire rating as the fixed elements of which they form a part. In reaction to a fire condition they swell, spread or deform to achieve their performance.
Approved document B of the Building Regulations outlines the need for buildings to be divided into compartments, and specifies the level of fire performance the compartment walls and floors need to achieve.
Mechanical and electrical services by their very nature breach compartment walls and floors causing failure of integrity and insulation to occur where gaps around services have not been adequately firestopped.
The use of correctly installed proprietary certified firestopping systems, will contain a fire at its source and limit the risk of the destruction caused by the spread of fire and the release of toxic gasses.
Many firestopping systems are tested up to 4 hours integrity, and loadbearing products are available.
Like cavity barriers, firestopping requires special attention from the designer. They are frequently hidden once installed and are therefore difficult to inspect after installation, handover and subsequently through the life of the building. The designer may not be able to indicate where there is a need for firestopping since it should be fitted wherever needed. Because it is an important element that is often accidentally missed out during construction, the responsibility for its installation and performance must be clearly identified. This is all the more important as firestopping is often hidden after its installation. FML use identity tags that will correspond to specific firestop installation.
The firestop seal number refers to Record Sheet 5 figure number / line number. This is a unique reference for a firestop which is entirely traceable to the person who installed it and to the digital record on the take off sheet. The take off sheets are sent with applications which are only a summary of the firestop work done.
The tag makes checking firestop seals on site simple. Filters can be applied to the relevant excel spread sheet and a room number can be called up. That room number can then be visited with a short print allowing the client to marry the take off with the firestop work on the ground. In this way it is possible to inspect all firestop works in an area even after several visits and check individual firestop items.
Unless clearly defined, it is possible for an inappropriate sub-contractor to be given the task of installing firestopping. For example, where firestopping is needed behind a cladding system at floor level, the responsibility may fall to the floor installer or the cladding contractor. Those who carry out the task must have the necessary fire protection expertise. The requirements and responsibilities for the provision of firestopping must be clearly stated in the contract(s). Proprietary firestop systems must be designed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Recommendations on the provision of fire stopping are given in Approved Document B.