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Increase Quality of Fire-Stop Inspections with New ASTM Standard

Fire stop materials help to contain fire, smoke and poisonous gas. Standard inspections of fire-stop material installations can increase the integrity of fire-rated assemblies.

ASTM E 2174, Standard Practice for On-Site Inspection of Installed Fire Stops (2001), guides the inspection of fire-stop materials installed in commercial or residential fire assemblies. The standard applies to fire-stop materials sold as foam, caulk, putty, mortar, devices, or boards.

In a building fire, more fatalities occur from inhalation of smoke and poisoned gas than from the fire itself, according to Don Sabrsula, president of Firesafe of Houston, Inc., Katy, Texas. “Fire stop materials are about containment,” says Sabrsula, chair of a fire-industry task group that developed the standard. The standard will benefit the owner, and because it’s a life safety issue, it is going to benefit the public, he says.

The task group includes specialty fire-stop contractors and installers, fire-stop product manufacturers, a municipal building-code official, members of the Fire Stop Contractors International Association (FCIA), Wheaton, Ill., and the International Firestop Council, Tarrytown, N.Y. The group is part of ASTM Subcommittee E06.21 on Serviceability, under Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings.

Before they developed E 2174, no standard procedures for inspections existed for the industry to follow. Contractor/members of the FCIA raised the issue at a conference in San Antonio a few years ago, says Sabrsula. “We felt that the majority of fire stops are being put in incorrectly,” he says. “It is probably not usual that an association of contractors would want to be policed, but we felt it would help our industry because there’s an awful lot of people doing it that are not schooled in how to do it correctly. We’re dealing with a life safety issue here. So we felt strongly about raising the level of integrity, hopefully, of the installers, by putting some means of enforcement, therefore, for the code and the inspection process.”

Standard E 2174 provides methods by which a qualified inspector can verify that all required fire stops on a project have been installed and that their installations are in accordance with the inspection documents. It describes:

• Qualifications requirements for inspectors;
• Types of fire stops subject to the inspection procedures;
• Information required to verify compliance of installed fire stops with inspection documents;
• A standard inspection form that is to be used when inspecting fire stops; and
• A standard report format that is to be used when reporting the inspection results.

The committee welcomes participation as it develops standard credentials for fire-stop inspectors. ASTM membership is not required to develop ASTM standards.

For further technical information, contact Don Sabrsula, Firesafe of Houston, Inc., Katy, Texas (phone: 281/391-3331). Committee E06 meets Oct. 13-16 in Norfolk, Va. For membership or meeting details, contact Stephen Mawn (phone: 610/832-9726;). //

Copyright 2002, ASTM