Glossary of Firestop Terms

by William J. McHugh, Jr.

Containing the spread of fire between floors of a structure requires various firestopping materials to seal different types of openings.

Picture Courtesy of Specified Technologies Inc. 

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ABLATIVE CHAR
APPROVED METHODS
AUTHORITY OF JURISDICTION
ASTM 119
ASTM E 814
ASTM E 84
ANNULAR SPACE
BUILDING CODES
ELASTOMERIC
ENDOTHERMIC
ENGINEERING JUDGMENTS
FORMING MATERIALS 
“F” RATING
“T” RATING
“L” RATING
INTUMESCENCE
LATEX
NFPA
RESTRICTING COLLAR
“SLEEVES”
THROUGH PENETRATION FIRESTOP SYSTEM
Z-CLIPS
"PULLOUT STRENGTH"

 

ABLATIVE CHAR:
Some firestop materials form a “char” with thermal insulation characteristics, which helps fill voids when exposed to heat. 

APPROVED METHODS:
A term used to refer to the through-penetration firestop systems that have been tested and meet test criteria of ASTM E 814 by an independent, recognized laboratory. Additionally, an authority having jurisdiction may also make specific product evaluation and determine compliance with appropriate standards. Products alone are not tested systems/approved firestop methods unless tested to ASTM E 814 and classified for use in the specific application. 

AUTHORITY HAVING JURISDICTION:
The final authority who writes the "Certificate of Occupancy Permit” in a municipality. This can be the building code official/inspector or fire inspector. Since each municipality is different, the “authority having jurisdiction” may also be different from town to town. Check with local officials to verify who has final jurisdiction. Industrial facilities and hospitals may have other “jurisdictions.”

ASTM 119:
Fire test method, “Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials,” conducted to evaluate the ability of a fire-resistive floor or wall assembly to perform its barrier function, resisting the passage of heat, flames, hot gases, and smoke in a fire situation.

ASTM E 814:
“Fire Tests of Through Penetration Firestops” or ASTM E 814 is the complementary test to ASTM E 119 that evaluates penetrations through a tested, fire-resistive (ASTM E 119 tested) wall or floor assembly. The test involves a standard time-temperature curve, a hose stream test and assigns ratings based on “T” (temperature rise) and “F” (flame occurrence through the firestop/penetration). The objective of specifying this type of system is to return the floor or wall to the compartment's original fire rating. An “L” (air leakage) rating can also be assigned. Air leakage simulates smoke movement through a penetration, measured in cubic feet per minute for authorities having jurisdiction to make judgments. 

ASTM E 84:
“Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials” or ASTM E 84 usually refers to the flame spread or smoke developed characteristics of a product (i.e. wallpaper, coatings, carpet, etc.). NOTE: ASTM E 84 is not the same as ASTM E 814, “Fire Tests of Through Penetration Firestops.” 

ANNULAR SPACE:
The distance from the inside edge of the opening (floor/wall) to the outside of the penetrating item.

BUILDING CODES:
Model building codes are adopted by each municipality from the major code organizations. The major code authorities are BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators) primarily in the Midwest, ICBO (International Council of Building Code Officials) in the West and Indiana, and SBCCI (Southern Building Code Congress, International) in the South. The local municipality or state can choose which major building code is adopted, or can adapt its own.

ELASTOMERIC:
A characteristic of a material that is flexible and permits movement.

ENDOTHERMIC:
A characteristic of a material that blocks heat by chemical absorption and moisture release for fire resistance.

ENGINEERING JUDGMENTS: 
To meet actual field conditions, manufacturers may need to make a rec- ommendation based on available testing that seems to approximate the condition encountered. Testing laboratories should verify judgements by manufacturers for validity. Some jurisdictions only allow judgements if there is no tested system available for the condition.

FORMING MATERIALS: Materials used under or beside a firestop system to either hold the system in place during application, improve fire resistance, or both. Mineral wool, ceramic fiber and other materials are used. Consult the manufacturer’s specific tested system data for type, thickness and density of material allowed.

“F” RATING: A rating usually expressed in hours indicating a specific length of time that a fire-resistive barrier can withstand fire before being consumed or before permitting the passage of flame through an opening in the assembly. 

“T” RATING: A rating usually expressed in hours indicating the length of time that the temperature on the non-fire side of a fire-rated assembly does not exceed 325F above ambient temperature.  

“L” RATING: Amount of air leakage through a penetration, measured in cubic feet per minute. The test is administered at ambient and 400’F for validity due to variances in per- formance of firestop systems at different temperatures. 

INTUMESCENCE: A characteristic of certain fire barrier products that, when exposed to heat, expands to fill a void in the penetration caused by the deformation or combustion of the through penetrating item. When exposed to heat, intumescent materials expand at various rates to form a hard char to seal voids and provide hourly rated protection.

LATEX: A water emulsion of a synthetic rubber material that is manufactured into a sealant.

NFPA: National Fire Protection Association, based in Quincy, Mass., author of “The Life Safety Code.”

RESTRICTING COLLAR: A metal device supplied by the firestop system manufacturer to mount firestop from the outside or underside of a penetration.

SLEEVES”: Sleeves, as required, must be part of the tested system or approved for use by the manufacturer of the firestop system. 

THROUGH PENETRATION FIRESTOP SYSTEM: "A specific field-erected construction consisting of an assemblage of materials to prevent the spread of fire through openings made in floors or walls to accommodate through penetrating items,” (i.e. pipes, electrical conduits, blanks, etc.) using ASTM E 814 (Test Standard UL 1479) as the test method.

Z-CLIPS: Z-shaped clips that support a firestop wrap strip material in a firestop system, sometimes without mineral wool forming.

PULLOUT STRENGTH”: Firestop systems that need to be fastened to walls and floors will specify a fastener pullout strength minimum value. Additionally, there are require- ments for the type of fastener, usually carbon or stainless-steel. Lead, alu- minum and others may melt and not function properly in fire conditions.

 

BUILDING SEPARATION WALL
DRAFT STOP
FIREBLOCKING
FIRE AREA
FIRE BARRIER WALL
FIRE DAMPER
FIRE DOOR ASSEMBLY
FIRE DOOR
FIRE PARTITION
FIRE RESISTANCE
FIRE RESISTANCE RATING
MEMBRANE PENETRATION
MEMBRANE PENETRATION FIRESTOP
PENETRATION FIRESTOP
SELF CLOSING
SHAFT
FIRE RESISTIVE JOINT SYSTEM
FIRE SEPARATION DISTANCE
FIRE SEPARATION WALL
FIRE WALL
SMOKE BARRIER
SMOKE COMPARTMENT
SPLICE
FIRE WINDOW
JOINT
THROUGH-PENETRATION

IBC DEFINITIONS
The following are additional terms defined by the International Building Code.
 

BUILDING SEPARATION WALL: A fire-resistance rated wall, having protected openings, which restricts the spread of fire and extends continuously from the foundation to or through the roof.

DRAFT STOP: A material, device or construction installed to restrict the movement of air within open spaces of concealed areas of building components such as crawl spaces, floor- ceiling assemblies, and roof-ceiling assemblies and attics. 

FIREBLOCKING: Building materials installed to resist the free passage of flame and gasses to other areas of the building through small concealed spaces. 

FIRE AREA: The aggregate floor area enclosed and bounded by building separation walls, fire barrier walls, exterior walls or fire-resis- tance rated horizontal assemblies of a building.

FIRE BARRIER WALL: A fire- resistance rated assembly of materials having protected openings which is designed to restrict the spread of fire. 

FIRE DAMPER: A device, installed in an air distribution system, designed to close automatically upon detection of heat, to interrupt migratory airflow, and to restrict the passage of flame. A combination fire and smoke damper meets the requirement of both.

FIRE DOOR ASSEMBLY: Any combination of a fire door, frame, hardware, and other accessories that together provide a specific degree of fire protection to the opening.

FIRE DOOR: The door component of a fire door assembly.

FIRE PARTITION: A vertical assembly of materials having protected openings and designed to restrict the spread of fire.

FIRE RESISTANCE: That property of materials or their assemblies which prevents or retards the passage of excessive heat, hot gases or flames under conditions of use.

FIRE RESISTANCE RATING: The period of time a building or building component maintains the ability to confine a fire or continues to perform a given structural function or both, as determined by tests prescribed in Section 703;
MEMBRANE PENETRATION: An opening made through one side (wall, floor or ceiling membrane) of an assembly.

MEMBRANE PENETRATION FIRESTOP: A material, device or construction installed to resist, for a prescribed time period, the passage of flame, heat, and hot gases through openings in a protective membrane in order to accommodate cables, cable trays, conduit, tubing, or pipes.

PENETRATION FIRESTOP: A though-penetration firestop or a membrane penetration firestop.

SELF-CLOSING: As applied to a fire door or other opening, means equipped with an approved device that will ensure closing after having been opened.

SHAFT: An enclosed space extending through one or more stories of a building, connecting vertical openings in successive floors, or floors and roof. 

FIRE RESISTIVE JOINT SYSTEM: An assemblage of specific materials or products that are designed, tested and fire rated in accordance with ASTM E 119 to resist, for a prescribed period of time, the spread of fire through joints made in or between fire rated assemblies.

FIRE SEPARATION DISTANCE: The distance in feet measured from the building face to the closest interior lot line, to the centerline of a street, alley or public way, or to an imaginary line between two buildings on the property.

FIRE SEPARATION WALL: See “fire barrier wall.” Transitional term replaced by “fire barrier wall.”

FIRE WALL: See “building separation wall.” Traditional term replaced by “building separation wall”

SMOKE BARRIER: A smoke barrier consists of walls, partitions, floors and openings therein as will prevent the transmission of smoke or gases through the construction.

SMOKE COMPARTMENT: A smoke compartment is a space within a building enclosed by smoke barriers on all sides, top and bottom. 

SPLICE: The result of a factory and/or field method of joining or connecting two or more lengths of a fire-resistive joint system into a continuous entity.  

FIRE WINDOW: A window constructed and glazed to give protection against the passage of fire.

JOINT: The linear opening in or between adjacent fire-resistance rated assemblies that is designed to allow independent movement of the building, in any plane, caused by thermal, seismic, wind loading or any other loading.

THROUGH-PENETRATION: An opening that passes through an entire assembly. 

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