Newsletter March 3, 2009


  • FCIA asks IFC to help with NFPA 80
  • FCIA in Dubai
  • FCIA Education and Committee Action Conference
  • More…

FCIA Education and Committee Action Conference, Boston – It’s been 9 years since FCIA visited Boston.  Last time we were here, the new FM 4991 Program was launched, with 52 people taking the first DRI Exams.  The 2009 FCIA Education and Committee Action Conference promises program announcements as well.

  • IAS – International Accreditation Services will bring us up to date on the new changes to AC 291, the Accreditation Criteria (AC) for Firestop Inspection Agencies. New qualification requirements for inspectors have been added to AC 291.

  • Codes – FCIA’s Code Consultant Bill Koffel brings us a report on what new code changes went in at the April 24, 2009 Deadline.  Don’t miss the unveiling of FCIA’s strategy.

  • Codes – 2008 had some pretty neat opportunities pass for Specialty Firestop Contractors.  The NASFM requirement in the International Fire Code stating that annual inspections of all types of fire protection features means someone has to look at the building.  Some building owners and managers will do this work in-house. However, with budgets tight, and personnel leaving, they may need to outsource. That’s where your eagle eyes come in.  Plus, new code requirements for Photoluminescent Markings in buildings 7 stories and higher will need qualified contractors to be sure the systems are installed properly.

  • FCIA’s Committees will meet to discuss 2009 strategies, while getting some work done.  A meeting of UL’s Standards Technical Panel study groups on Environmental exposure, movement, labeling will convene to discuss possible test standard modification proposals to be submitted to the panel.  This is your chance to bring field conditions to the standards development process.

  • Industry leading speakers from the American Society of Healthcare Engineers, (ASHE), Bill Koffel of Koffel Associates, FM Global’s Insurance Group, and all the fun that goes with attending an FCIA Conference.

Don’t miss out. Visit the events page for info.

NEW FCIA Insurance Program – FCIA’s partnership is off the ground with the Phoenix Group, a New Jersey based insurance agency, who is providing specialty firestop contractors the opportunity to buy general liability, workers compensation, auto and other insurance products from someone who knows our business. Better yet, if you are FM Approved or UL Qualified, Phoenix was able to negotiate a 10% discount on GL rates! Initial reports from Phoenix Insurance find that many renewals are coming up this spring and fall, with many reportedly talking to the Phoenix Group about the FCIA Insurance Program. For information call Jim Venezia at 877-FCIA-SAVE, or visit FCIA.org.

FCIA in Dubai, UAE - FCIA’s going where? FCIA has several members working in Dubai on the largest buildings in the world being constructed.

As of January 17, 2009 the Burj Dubai topped out at 818 m (2,684 ft) making it the tallest man-made structure ever built, surpassing the previous record-holder- the Warsaw Radio Mast in Konstantynów, Poland. Once completed (Fall 2009) it will break the world record of most floors (Sears Tower, 110) by a margin of 50 floors.

Non-member, firestop contracting companies are working there from Europe, the UK, India, the US and Canada. We believe that by meeting in Dubai, we will reach potential members in other areas of the world, jumpstarting our efforts in many areas. Plus, FCIA’s Board voted to give International Contractor Members full voting membership rights, in addition to an increase in dues equaling that paid by North American members. An important objective will be to invite the new members from the UAE to get involved in FCIA.

FCIA and NFPA 80 – FCIA’s Accreditation Chair, Aedan Gleeson and Bill McHugh met with the Chair of NFPA 80, Bruce Campbell, in 2007 to request adding a Firestopping Chapter to NFPA 80, where Installation, Inspection and Maintenance requirements exist for Swinging and Rolling Fire Doors, Fire Dampers, Fire Rated Glazing, and Fire Curtains in Theaters.  Chair Campbell recommended adding a firestopping chapter to NFPA 80. The NFPA Standards Council is meeting in Early March to decide what the disposition of the request will be.

Additionally, FCIA’s Standards Committee Chair Randy Bosscawen met with IFC Code Action Committee Chair Brandon Cordts at ASTM Meetings in December, and gained commitment to support the moves at NFPA.  Check out FCIA.org – Committees, Standards, to see what the draft proposal to NFPA 80 looks like. 

FCIA at AWCI – FCIA’s Bill McHugh will speak at the AWCI Convention Education Session, 7:45 am to 9:15am, in Nashville, March 27, 2009. Educated contractors who understand how important it is to install firestopping to the classified system or engineering judgment help protect our families, wherever they stay, or live. They also become FCIA Members. To attend, sign up with AWCI.

FCIA Education Session at UL DRI Exam Sessions - Toronto – FCIA and UL partner up to deliver FCIA Education Programs and UL DRI Examinations at the UL Toronto, Ontario, Canada Location. Education takes place starting at 9am, while DRI Exams are administered after lunch.  Visit ULUniversity.com to sign up.  Education is free for FCIA Member Contractors, $295 for non members.

FCIA and UL DRI Education & Exams in New York – When adopting the International Building Code, New York included ASTM E 2174, Standard for the Inspection of Penetration Fire Stop Systems.  FCIA believes it’s great to have both quality FCIA Member, FM Approved or UL Qualified Contractors, and Inspection Agencies who understand how to tell whether firestopping has been installed right or wrong.  FCIA worked with International Accreditation Services (IAS) to develop inspector qualifications that accomplish this.  With the new IAS Accreditation Criteria AC 291 requirements for inspection agencies of firestopping to employ individuals who have passed the UL or FM DRI Exam, we believe this goal is accomplished. To meet demand for more DRI Exams, FCIA and UL are increasing the times we deliver DRI Examinations in New York. Watch FCIA.org for July and August dates.

Stimulus Bill – The US Stimulus bill has a lot of things in it, with tons going to infrastructure.  What’s that got to do with Firestopping?  Electrical grid improvements mean substation work, which has lots of firestopping. Healthcare system improvements should have requirements for safe buildings, which should have effective fire and smoke protection features installed for protection.  The Firestopping and Fire and Smoke Protection Features industry needs to be lobbying in Washington to be sure people are safe before billions are spent on improving services. 

Plus, there’s lots of debate about who is going to install any type of material on projects funded by the new stimulus package. To learn more about the Obama executive order, visit the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) who have organized against Project Labor Agreements, or the Association of General Contractors,who also seem against the policy.   ABC has even set up a place to submit thoughts.

New FCIA Members

Contractor Members
Advanced Fire-Wall Systems, KY
R L Cellular, NC
Construction Interiors, FL
Pride Fire Protection, TN

Branch Members

FSIME Construction LLC, Dubai
Oklahoma Waterproofing, OK
The George D Alan Co, Inc., TX
Texas Moisture Protection, TX 
Associate Member

Firesmart Building Tech. Inc, MA

New UL Qualified FCIA Members

Alert Insulation, CA
Firestop Solutions, Inc., NY
Wall Systems of SW Florida

New FM Approved FCIA Members

Advanced Mechanical Insulation, CA
CM Firestop, CA
McGill Brothers, Inc., NE

FCIA Banners at ALBION WOC Booth – FCIA Members ALBION Engineering graciously offered to show the FCIA Banners in their booth at the World of Concrete Show in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. Many potential contractors, manufacturers and associate members picked up membership information and applications. Thanks Bob Reynolds and Mark Schneider, we appreciate it!

FCIA at IAPMO – FCIA has been opposing a move by the United Association of Plumbers, Pipe Fitters Union to claim firestop workforce jurisdiction around piping, using The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) Code Development Process.  We’ve attend the code hearings the past 2 cycles, and won battles to keep this from passing at the committee levels, usually be very small margins, one vote. 

At the IAPMO final hearings for the cycle in October, 2008, committee actions were reversed.  At IAPMO, everyone votes, including industry, and overturned committee actions, making a new requirement for ASME A 112.2.2, Standard for the Approval of Installers of Fire Stop around Piping, mandatory.

FCIA’s Bill McHugh and the FCIA Attorney, Mark Singley met in New Orleans, LA with a sub-committee of the IAPMO Board of Directors February 3, 2009.  The meeting lasted about 1 hour, with support from other groups as well.  Speaking on behalf of the construction industry, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) and the Laborers International Union of North America representatives brought an opposing view to the IAPMO Group, made up of many active and retired union plumbers, the plumbing industry suppliers and manufacturers. We asked that Item#27 be removed from approval. Item #27 uses mandatory language in Chapter 3, Administrative, to connect Chapter 15, Firestop Protection and Table 14-1, Reference Standards, and invokes the use of ASME A 112.20.2, Standard for the Qualification of Installers of Fire Stop around Piping Systems.

This journey didn’t just start either.  FCIA worked at ASME as a task force member on ASME A 112.20.2.  The task group at ASME voted the passage down in 8.2 of ASME A 112.20.2. Our problem is with a section of ASME A 112.20.2, that does all but say the word, ‘journeyman plumber’.  In section 8.2, the following wording is what we objected to:

“The certified firestop installer shall have a minimum of 4 years of documented practical experience recognized by the ISO / IEC 17024 ANSI Accredited third party certifier, in the installation of piping systems.”

It’s FCIA and others’ belief that Firestopping is a construction industry issue, and not a piping and plumbing issue.  Firestopping is not about the penetrating items, it’s about the System that returns the wall and floor to the fire rating it had prior to poking holes in the fire resistance rated or smoke resistant wall or floor assembly. Most importantly, the plumbing code should not mandate work to any trade specifically.

Although we believe our presentation went well, we’re not sure what the result will be from IAPMO.  Look for more when we hear from IAPMO’s Board of Directors.

FCIA at Code Activities - FCIA attended and testified on several code development proposals in the 2007-2008 development cycle. Here’s a few that can affect your business:

The National Association of State Fire Marshals was successful at having an ‘annual inspection’ requirement for all fire protection features, including fire walls, fire dampers, firestopping, fire rated glazing, fire doors and fire floors.  The code change in the International Fire Code means it is retroactive to all buildings. It does not state how the inspection takes place, nor what should happen after it takes place. This will create opportunities for firestop / containment – compartmentation contractors and inspectors to inspect buildings for building owners and managers who outsource. FCIA testified in support of this code change, as it helps assure that fire and smoke protection features function as intended when exposed to fire.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Sean DeCrane was successful at getting labels added to fire and smoke barriers identifying them, in all occupancies except multi-family residential.  Watch the 2009 International Building Code for details, and for a very comprehensive building labeling proposal that gives first responders information about what they might walk into.

The ICC Ad-Hoc Committee on Terrorism Resistant Buildings (TRB) ‘had a banner year’ according to ICC TRB Chair Gary Lewis.  One success was the new construction and retroactive installation of photoluminescent markings for stairwells in high rise buildings.  This is a new opportunity for FCIA Contractors who are well suited to install photoluminescent markings in buildings.  Also, elevators are now permitted for egress in emergencies as well. This will be a big retraining for all who have been taught not to use elevators in emergencies.
The Washington Association of Building Officials quantified the “L” Rating required for smoke barriers in buildings. The new requirement states that 5cfm/sf opening area OR 100cfm/100LF of wall area is the new formula acceptable in the International Building Code, for 2009.  A more technical requirement, means a knowledgeable contractor and installer must be selected to install these important systems properly.  

FCIA successfully changed Chapter 7’s Title in the International Existing Building Code and International Building Code from “Fire Resistance” to “Fire and Smoke Protection Features”.  With requirements for smoke control, “L” Rated Firestop Systems, air leakage protected door assemblies, smoke dampers, in Chapter 7 of the IEBC and IBC, the ICC Membership felt the title better reflected what Chapter 7 stands for…Fire and Smoke Protection through fire resistance rated and smoke resistant systems.  Systems, there’s another word we were successful adding to the IBC.

In  requirement 713.4.1, Installation, ‘perimeter fire barrier to be installed so as not to dislodge, loosen or otherwise impair its ability to accommodate expected building movements and to resist the passage of fire and hot gasses. With this simple passage, responsibility has been shifted from the manufacturer to the installer firm.  This will help those who install the system correctly apart from those who do not understand the zero tolerance systems installation protocol.

FCIA had several other code change proposals that were in play last cycle that supported the DIIM Philosophy, Design, Installation, Inspection, Maintenance, keeps firestopping, fire resistance rated and smoke resistant compartmentation effective for the life of the building.  Systems Designs submittals for masonry, gypsum walls, from the testing laboratory directories was rejected. The requirement for Certified Contractors by Approved Agencies, such as FM 4991 Approved or UL Qualified, for the Installation part of DIIM, was also rejected. And, Inspection requirements for firestopping using ASTM E 2174 and ASTM E 2393 were rejected. Good discussion took place with the code development committee about these requirements, with good support from the building official community, and opposition from industry. Several building officials commented that they use the ASTM E 2174 & ASTM E 2393 Inspection Standards in their jurisdictions, when they feel it’s justified by building occupancy and importance. The ASTM E 2174 and ASTM E 2393 Standards are out for ballot to make them better suited for the codes. However, building officials report the building type and size would needs to be better defined for successful code inclusion. For Maintenance, see the NASFM proposal above.  The deadline for 2009-2010’s Code Development Cycle is April 24. Watch future issues of Life Safety Digest for interesting reports on proposals that affect Fire and Life Safety in buildings.

ICC’s 2009-2010 Code Cycle is underway, now with a new twist. Instead of a supplement to the 2009 code being published in 2010, and a full code in 2012, a new change at ICC is that only one code development cycle will take place. Code proposals are due for this cycle April 24th, with Code Development Committee Meetings in late October, early November.  Then, two staggered final action hearings take place over the next two years resulting in a new set of International Codes. Details, watch ICC's site.

Bill McHugh, FCIA Executive Director, the FCIA Staff and Board

© Copyright FCIA 3/3/09 - Permission is hereby granted to forward, print, circulate, quote with credit to FCIA.  FCIA is a non profit organization of Firestop Contractors, Contractor Branch Offices, Manufacturers and Associate Members interested in furthering life safety through the Specialty Firestop Contractor Concept.  For more information, contact the

FCIA Office Bill McHugh, Executive Director
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