Firestops are a critical part of any building’s safety features. Your building needs them both to protect the people working there and to protect the property itself. A firestop is a system that seals openings in walls withfireproof materials to make it more difficult for smoke and flames to spread from one room to another.
Buildings are full of gaps that can allow a fire to spread. Joints between the roof and the walls, or between two walls, are small, but can allow a fire to spread if they are not properly sealed.
Firestops are not used to prevent or put out a fire, but to slow down the spread of a fire. Properly installed firestops can dramatically extend the amount of time that people have to evacuate the building, and minimize the spread of the fire to prevent as much damage as possible. This means that firestops are not a replacement for a good sprinkler and alarm system, but a supplement to them.
Openings Where Firestops Can Be Used
There are a few openings in which a firestop could be used and could potentially be very beneficial.
Electrical, Mechanical, And Structural Penetrations
Any openings in fire-rated walls or floors should be fire-stopped. Pipes, electrical conduits, and support columns can all create such penetrations. You may be surprised at how many penetrants your building has. Almost every wall or floor will have penetrations.
Even the pipes for a fire-suppression sprinkler system create penetrations that need to have firestops. Electrical outlets are another common penetration, and the steel beams your building relies on for structural integrity will also create them.
Re-entries Of Existing Firestops
For many building owners this is the most common need for firestops. Anytime that new electrical, mechanical, or structural components need to be put into place, they will require re-entering the existing firestops.
This often means removing the material that is already there, and reapplying it after the new components have been put into place. Since most people buy buildings that are already finished, and which should therefore already have firestops, they do not typically have to worry about firestops until they have to re-enter them.
Any joints in your building must have a firestop in place. This is essential to ensuring that your building is compartmentalized in the event of a fire. Without firestops in the joints, smoke and flames will rapidly spread throughout the building.
Junctions Between The Wall And The Floor
Much like firestops in the joints, firestops in the junction between the wall and the floor are crucial for compartmentalization. Without it, the fire will spread unhindered through your building.
Head Of Wall Joints
Anywhere a non-load-bearing wall meets a floor assembly, you need a firestop.
Think of firestops as the pitch used to seal old sailing ships. You are using firestops to seal your building up in much the same way, except instead of keeping water out you are keeping smoke and flames contained. Anywhere that they could potentially seep through needs a firestop.
Fire caulking is the most common permanent firestop solution. There are “fire pillows” that can be used, but these are best installed as a temporary solution. Fire caulking is an insulating foam that is applied to all openings in need of a fire stop. Fire pillows are likewise designed to expand when exposed to high heat, but caulk will form a tighter seal and will last longer.
Fire caulk is designed to rapidly expand when exposed to high temperatures, so it can allow some airflow within the building under normal circumstances, and then automatically seal off an area if a fire breaks out.
Do Not Try This Yourself
Installing firestops using fire caulk is not a do-it-yourself kind of project. It has to be done correctly, and that involves both the instructions for the product itself and all applicable building codes. If it is not installed correctly, you may face legal trouble for failing to meet the local building code.
More importantly, you may not be properly protected in the event of a fire. If you have applied the fire caulk improperly, it may not form a good seal. If that happens, the fire will not be compartmentalized and your entire building, along with everyone in it, is at risk.
Professional, experienced contractors are necessary to install and maintain your firestops. Waterproof Caulking is a highly qualified option for you. Our experts can inspect your building and determine if any of your existing firestops need maintenance. Reach out for more information.
The team can also help you install new firestops if needed. They will know exactly how to install the firestops safely and in accordance with all local building codes. You can trust that their work will keep you and your building safe for a long time.