Top-of-the-Line Firestopping Systems for Your Building
Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing specializes in installing firestopping systems, including fire-rated joint assemblies, intumescent fireproofing, perimeter fire containment and smoke- and fire-rated through penetrations.
Our extensive knowledge and training allow us to provide our clients with a full-service solution to all of their firestopping needs, as we are certified by several leading manufacturers and third-party organizations.
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Fire containment is a primary concern for building designers and owners as the control of fire, smoke and poisonous gases is a critical component of the overall life safety plan of the structure.
Typically, a combination of active (fire sprinklers and fire alarms) and passive (firestopping and spray fireproofing) fire protection systems are necessary to meet the stringent building code requirements that govern the design, construction and occupancy of buildings.
How Firestopping Works
Firestopping is a passive fire protection approach that relies on the compartmentalization of various building components, including fire-rated walls, joints and floors. The goal is to prevent the spread of fire within a building by properly sealing every opening, penetration and joint that is part of the fire-rated assembly to maintain or achieve the designated fire-resistive rating.
A common misunderstanding of firestops is that certain materials have specific fire ratings. On the contrary, firestop materials are only a single component of the overall firestop system tested by UL or other third-party testing agencies. The firestop assembly includes all of the building components required to achieve or maintain the specified fire-resistive rating.
Firestopping systems include:
- Caulking and sealants: Made of high-temperature acrylic or silicone, these sealants are used around penetrations such as pipes, around doors or at joints between adjoining surfaces to prevent smoke and gases from spreading.
- Insulation and fire blankets: Made of mineral wool, fiberglass or high-temperature foam, insulation, fire blankets and foam pillows help prevent the spread of heat and flames through walls, ceilings or floors.
- Mortars: Made of gypsum or cementitious materials, mortars are used to seal wall assemblies to concrete floors, seal between adjoining concrete surfaces, seal expansion joints in concrete slabs and more.
- Intumescent coatings: These coatings expand with heat to create an insulating barrier on things like exposed columns and beams, protecting the surface beneath from heat and flames.
- Collars: These are installed on flues, pipes, ducts and similar assemblies to contain flames and prevent them from spreading to another room.
As a certified firestop contractor, Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing can provide pre-construction consultation and design support to ensure the proper firestop systems are chosen and incorporated into the project’s life safety plans.
Why We Are the Right Choice for Your Firestop Needs
Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing’s firestop contractors are experienced and trained to provide a single-source approach to firestopping for your next project. Hiring a firestop specialty contractor will reduce your overall liability exposure, reduce costs and streamline the documentation process.
Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing can provide submittals, certifications, identification tags and installation logs, which can be collated and turned over to the owner in a single package upon substantial completion of the project, minimizing the confusion that can occur when multiple trades are responsible for their own firestopping installations.
We have received specialized training and certification from several leading manufacturers of firestop materials, including Hilti and Specified Technologies Inc. (STI). Six of our locations have been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and found to comply with the UL Qualified Firestop Contractor Program.
Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing is also an FM 4991 approved firestop contractor, as deemed by the FCIA.
What is the goal of firestopping?
Firestopping is designed to slow the spread of fire so a building can be safely evacuated. It seals off each room from the next, preventing flames, smoke and toxic gases from spreading to adjacent rooms. Even a penetration as small as a pencil can allow an adjacent room to fill with smoke in minutes, so it is important to seal all penetrations. Talk to our team at Alpha today to learn more about the importance of firestopping.
Is firestopping needed if a fire sprinkler system is installed?
Yes, firestopping acts as passive protection that prevents the spread of fire, smoke and gases from room to room whether or not the fire sprinklers activate. Fire sprinklers only work to put out the flames — and if the system malfunctions, it may fail at that — but smoke and gases are not contained.
A comprehensive fire protection system combines passive measures like firestopping and fireproofing with active measures like fire sprinklers. At Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing, we offer a wide range of firestopping and fireproofing solutions for your commercial building.
Where is firestopping required?
In a commercial building, firestopping is required at all through penetrations, membrane penetrations, and any joints or perimeter barriers. Through penetrations are things like pipes and cables that go through the entire wall from the wall surface or membrane on one side, through the hollow space between, and to the wall surface on the other side.
Membrane penetrations occur when a pipe or cable inside a wall exits through one membrane or wall surface. Joints and perimeter barriers occur at the top of walls, where the wall meets the slab, where a wall joins perpendicularly to another and similar interfaces.
Our Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing team can evaluate your busing and determine where firestopping is needed according to code.
Can all penetrations be sealed with firestopping caulk?
No, caulk can successfully seal only smaller penetrations. Depending on the size of the opening, the material and its location, there are a variety of products available to properly seal a variety of penetrations, including firestopping caulk, firestopping putties, intumescent collars and intumescent pillows.
All products must be UL-approved. At Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing, we can recommend the best firestopping products for each location in your building.
What’s the difference between firestopping and fireproofing?
Firestopping is designed to seal off one room from the next so flames, smoke and poisonous gases cannot travel from room to room. Because toxic gases are the most common cause of death during a fire, stopping their spread is the primary goal of firestopping systems and materials.
Fireproofing is a coating that is applied to structural elements like beams and columns to help them retain their strength for a longer amount of time during a fire. This gives the building’s occupants more time to evacuate safely. We offer both firestopping and fireproofing services to our commercial clients throughout the country.
Does my local code require firestopping?
In commercial buildings, firestopping is required by national code and National Fire Protection Association standards for all penetrations in fire-rated assemblies like walls, floors and elevator shafts. Any penetrations through the wall membrane must be sealed to prevent the spread of flames, smoke and toxic gases.
National codes apply to all areas, but local codes are often more stringent than national codes. To learn more about the codes for your specific area, talk to the experts at your local Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing office.
Is a sprinkler system enough to keep a fire from spreading?
A sprinkler system can be great for preventing or slowing the spread of a fire, but for complete protection, it should be part of a larger fire protection regimen. This should include systems for detection, suppression and containment, which together are known as the “fire protection triad.”
The sprinklers act as the suppression system while fire alarms detect the fire and firestopping helps contain the flames, smoke and gases. At Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing, we can help you improve your fire protection strategy with reliable firestopping and fireproofing solutions.