Firestopping DIIM in Canada

Firestop sealant is not an acceptable treatment for extending a wall’s fire resistance when larger plastic pipe is the service penetration through a breach. Wallboard compound is not firestop either. It is important to treat breaches around metal or plastic service penetrations.

Illuminating DIIM: Design, installation, inspection, and maintenance
By focusing on the proper DIIM of firestopping, continuity of fire resistance can be maintained.

The first component of the DIIM philosophy is the design. In this stage, systems are designed by manufacturers of firestop products and tested to CAN/ULC-S115 at labs such as UL/ULC, FM Approvals, Intertek, or other authority-having-jurisdiction (AHJ)-recognized laboratory.

The tested and listed systems provide ‘suitability for use statements’ for the fire- and smoke-resistant products. They become systems once installed by those who understand the specific application’s installation instructions.

The other part of design is the specification writer, who understands the complexity of firestopping and does due diligence to specify to meet the building’s physical needs.

Who is to install firestopping? This industry is different from other industries, such as roofing and waterproofing. There is no contract binding the contractor and manufacturer through a long-term warranty program, as would be found in the roofing industry.

For this reason, and to increase the quality of life-safety firestop installations, FCIA collaborated with FM Approvals to build FM 4991, Standard for the Approval of Firestop Contractors, and with UL/ULC to develop the UL/ULC Qualified Firestop Contractor Program. Both programs provide general contractors, building owners, and managers a way to differentiate between companies that believe firestopping is a technical discipline with detailed systems and those that simply pump red sealant on or in assemblies and refer to it as firestopping.

Firestop contractor companies approved under the FM 4991 standard or qualified under the UL/ULC Qualified Firestop Contractor Program have procedures in place to understand system listings and manufacturers’ installation instructions.

There are several steps to becoming approved under the FM 4991 or qualified under the UL/ULC Qualified Firestop Contractor Program. First, the company must employ someone who has passed an exam based on the FCIA Firestop Manual of Practice (MOP) and the FM and UL/ULC Programs.

Foam is not a firestop system, and should not be used as one.

Second, a management system is written by the firestop contractor company, and procedures are implemented. Then, an onsite audit of the company management system (by FM or ULC) takes place. The person who passes the UL/ULC or FM firestop exam is then appointed as a designated responsible individual (DRI) at the company, depending on which program is chosen.

The FM 4991 and UL/ULC contractor programs are quite different from the manufacturer programs in the marketplace. Rather than short education sessions by a single manufacturer to get certificates or cards, these are true third-party programs, with FM 4991 designated as an FM standard. The programs are specified nationally in contractor requirements. They cost the contractor about $8000 for the initial audit, and $4375 for each annual audit. For a contractor, that is a small investment when compared to labour and materials.

In some countries, special inspection is mandated by the building code. In Canada, specifications might reference inspection standards such as ASTM E2174, Standard Practice for Onsite Inspection of Installed Firestops, and ASTM E2393, Standard Practice for Onsite Inspection of Installed Fire Resistive Joint Systems and Perimeter Fire Barriers.

Referenced in MasterFormat Section 07 84 00, Part 3−Execution, ASTM E2174 and ASTM E2393 inspection provides procedures for inspection. This is an independent check to ensure the contractor’s management system installing firestopping is working properly.

Companies providing this inspection should also be vetted. International Accreditation Services (IAS), a subsidiary of the International Code Council (ICC), has an Accreditation Criteria (AC) 291, Accreditation Criteria for Special Inspection Agencies. IAS provides accreditation to inspection agency companies that use a management system it has audited and employ a person who has passed the FM or UL/ULC exam.

It is FCIA’s position that individual inspectors or contract employees also need to have qualifications, in addition to the company accreditation. The FM or UL/ULC exam provides individuals proof they have knowledge of firestopping. Then, the building owner should ensure the inspection company hired has appropriate experience, competence, independence, and equipment, as well as employing individuals who have inspected the same type and complexity of firestopping as that represented on the specific project.

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