Newsletter June 13, 2009


  • Conference Notes
  • FCIA at CONSTRUCT, CSC, ASTM, ICC, and growing internationally in Dubai and beyond

FCIA Education and Committee Action Conference, Boston – The 2009 FCIA Education and Committee Action Conference was well attended.

  • Codes – FCIA’s code consultant Bill Koffel recommended the industry work on important issues this cycle, focusing on the proper Design, Installation, Inspection and Maintenance of firestop systems. He advised we spend time educating, in addition to code development proposal submissions. 

  • FCIA’s President Hoos honored Bill Koffel with a Honorary Membership Award for years of good advice, industry leadership.

  • The meeting of UL’s Standards Technical Panel study groups on environmental exposure, movement, labeling brought agreement that we move forward with development of a proposal for movement of service items such as plumbing, electrical and others, as they penetrate fire resistance rated and smoke resistant assemblies.

  • Doug Erickson, FASHE, CHFM, Deputy Executive Director at the American Society of Healthcare Engineers (ASHE), brought the house down with some humor, and excellent suggestions about firestopping in the healthcare industry, and how to deal with the many special needs of this very sensitive building occupancy.

  • FM Global’s impressive fire testing laboratory was opened to FCIA Members for a tour after the conference. FCIA Members saw the largest cone calorimeter in the world measuring a monster fire, and much more.  FM Global field engineer, Jordan Collyer, offered a great program about the life of a field engineer, while discussing how FM 4991 contractors can provide value to FM insured building owner customers. FM also took the time to offer FCIA member FM 4991 contractors a great tour and evening out in Boston. Thanks, Jeff Gould, Rich Ferron, Len DeAngelo and staff for your hospitality.

Firestopping and Luminescent Markings Go Together – At FCIA’s Education and Committee Action Conference, the photoluminescent marking industry visited us about how to mark egress stairwells with systems to meet the new International Fire Code Requirement for these products. The PL industry looks to FCIA members as technical experts in effective compartmentation, and these systems seem to be a natural fit to the zero tolerance mindset of the FCIA member firestop contractor firm’s value proposition. Many thanks to Phil Befumo, president, Pholuminescent Safety Association (PSA) and the team from PSA. We look forward to having PSA involved at FCIA.

FCIA in Dubai, UAE…Again – The March FCIA Firestop Symposium in Dubai went so well, UL followed it up with a “Total Fire Containment Solutions Symposium.”  V Jagdish and Sumit Kumar from UL India, plus speakers from the FCIA / UL Total Fire Protection Systems brought industry knowledge to the Departement of Civil Defence (DCD), and the Jabel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) attendees in Dubai. DCD/JAFZA are both local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ’s) in Dubai.

The FCIA Education Program and UL DRI Exams were administered to 10 individuals, whose companies are aspiring to become UL Qualified Firestop Contractors. FCIA gained two new firestop contractor members from the FCIA Education Program and Symposium. Over 60 attendees from contractors, architects, general contractors, the DCD, and JAFZA all heard the Total Fire Containment Story.

In delivering the keynote address, JAFZA’s Nutankumar Manatowar said, “Total Fire Containment Through Passive Fire Protection is the responsibility of everyone…the consultants, contractor-installers, manufacturers, facility managers and authorities.” His perspective was that we need to look for best practice examples to save lives, by eliminating compromise of passive life safety systems.

STI’s Charbel Tagher (representing IFC) and Bill McHugh, FCIA Executive Director worked together presenting the proper Design, Installation, Inspection and Maintenance of firestop systems to an audience eager to learn about standards for testing and contractor/inspector importance in selection, installation, inspection and maintenance of firestop systems. More North American and International FCIA / UL sessions are being discussed for India and the Far East. A Denver, Colo program is set for October 16 with the Colorado Chapter, International Code Council. 

The gratifying part of the Dubai program for FCIA is the result of several initiatives by FCIA’s boards, past and present, who have reached out to other compartmentation industry partners to help make our industry better. FCIA started its compartmentation initiatives with the Door and Hardware Institute’s staff Bill Johnson and Jerry Heppes, and leadership, Scott Sabatini, DHI president. We’ve also grown our relationships with the rolling door, fire damper, fire-rated glazing, concrete and gypsum industries as well.

The result…First, it is clear FCIA has helped contractors, architects and AHJ’s worldwide understand what the proper Design, Installation, Inspection and Maintenance of Effective Compartmentation should be for fire and life safety; and that it is an important element in new construction and renovations. 

Second, driving the proper Design, Installation, Inspection and Maintenance of Firestop Systems – while working with the other compartmentation features industries such as fire dampers, fire-rated swinging and rolling doors with builders hardware, and the gypsum or concrete wall, and floors, to build standards for quality for each component – means our industry can say it’s reliable with confidence.

FCIA thanks UL’s V Jagdish, Sumit Kumar, Pravin Ghandhi, R.A. Venkitachalam, Bob Jamieson, for their work to make the program a success.

FCIA at CSC – FCIA’s Bill McHugh attended and spoke at Construction Specifications Canada this month. Our program on firestopping and compartmentation was well received, with great questions about F, T, L, W Ratings, Fire Resistance. Thanks to FCIA Member 3M Canada for some great questions during the session that helped spark conversations throughout the conference. Thanks to CSC’s leadership for giving us the opportunity to speak.

FCIA and NFPA 80 – FCIA’s accreditation chair, Aedan Gleeson and Bill McHugh requested adding a Firestopping Chapter to NFPA 80. We learned recently that the NFPA Standards Council requested we change our request from NFPA 80 and redirect to NFPA 1, 3 and NFPA 221. FCIA standards chair Randy Bosscawen, accreditation chair Gleeson and code chair Gary Hamilton are working on the submissions, due this spring, summer and fall. FCIA finds that contractors have the same knowledge requirements worldwide. That is, how do we learn the firestopping installation protocol, and get better at systems selection, evaluation, and communication to the field.

FCIA at FDIC – FCIA’s Don Murphy, Thermafiber’s Jim Shriver and International Firestop Council executive director Sean DeCrane teamed up at the FDIC Show in Indianapolis, April 17. The program had several interested fire marshals stop in and request information and an education session. Thanks to Sean for involving FCIA and the firestopping industry at this program.

FCIA / UL Program at CSI Indy Chapter – FCIA friends Rich Walke, UL, Bret Penrod from Pilkington Glass and Tom Morris from Hydraulic Press Brick representing the glass and concrete presented at the CSI Indianapolis Chapter a shortened Compartmentation Program for about 60 attendees.  Reports from Rich are the program had many good questions….and great dialogue between the specifiers and our industry.

FCIA at CONSTRUCT2009 – CSI & TFM Show – FCIA will again display and speak at the CONSTRUCT Show. The session takes place Thursday, June 18, from 8-9:30 covering Firestopping and Compartmentation.  “We’ve had great reception and excellent feedback about FCIA’s Programs at these CSI Conferences.”, states FCIA’s Marketing Committee Chair Don Murphy. 

FCIA at Metro Chiefs Association – Edmonton, Alberta CANADA-  FCIA will be displaying at the Metro Chiefs Conference in late June.  FCIA Board Member Randy Perry will work the tabletop at the event, and pass out FCIA Member Lists with Life Safety Digest to gain exposure for all FCIA Members. Attendees are Fire Chiefs from the US, Canada and UK.  Visit FCIA.org, members only, for the preliminary list of attendees.


FCIA 10-Year Anniversary Firestop Industry Conference & Trade Show – FCIA is celebrating 10 years as an association. From small beginnings in January 2009 at UL’s Chicago headquarters, FCIA has grown into a worldwide organization of over 240 firms. Contributions have been made by FCIA to fire and life safety through quality management standards, inspection initiatives at ASTM, communication and education through symposiums, conferences, the FCIA Manual of Practice, Enews, Life Safety Digest…and more.

FCIA heads to Key Biscayne FL’s Ritz Carlton Hotel, a first-class place … at middle-class prices. Room rates are $179/nite. Several airlines serve Miami International Airport (all the big airlines) and Ft. Lauderdale (Southwest). Watch FCIA.org for more info.

ICC CTC Meets – The International Code Council’s (ICC) Code Technology Committee met recently to discuss issues related to balanced fire protection, height and area, among many other things. It was reported by features committee co-chair, Dave Collins, FAIA, that the study of height and area in buildings is not able to move to consensus, nor code change proposal, and a recommendation was made to disband the study. “There is little the committee can do to effect change, because it cannot find data to relate to improved safety, with limited the resources available. We recommend that the study group be terminated,” said Collins. According to Collins, the group wants to provide a white paper, which will provide a basis for further research regarding fire flow concept and other topics. ICC CTC Chair Paul Heilstadt added, “height and area has been under study for several decades. Someday, we’ll find a way to handle this. Thanks to California State Fire Marshal Kate Dargan and Dave Collins for working on this important effort….we are a starting point for the next group”.

FCIA at IAPMO – FCIA has opposed a move by the United Association of Plumbers, Pipe Fitters Union of (plumbers, sprinkler fitters) to claim firestop workforce jurisdiction around piping, using The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) Code Development Process and ASME Standard, A 112.20.2. 

At the IAPMO final hearings in 2008, committee actions we previously won were reversed. This is because at IAPMO’s American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Approved Consensus Process, everyone votes, including industry participants like union plumbers, plumbing manufacturers and suppliers. Plumbers want to increase hours for workers. One way to accomplish this is through extension into other trades, using plumbing workers. 

ANSI works on an “open consensus” voting process to approve standards, and codes, such as IAPMO’s. “Open” refers to a forum that is not closed. “Consensus” means those who are in the assembly, typically a majority of participants from an industry; regulators, plumbing inspectors, plumbing manufacturers, plumbing contractors, and plumbing suppliers. IAPMO’s consensus body scope of authority is perceived to be the plumbing industry. In this case, it is FCIA’s belief that IAPMO extended its “consensus” authority from plumbing issues into fire resistance, not reflective of their consensus. 

At the IAPMO Final Action Hearings, the final action assembly overturned several committee actions, taking control through the IAPMO Plumbing Code, the type of labor force that is used for installation of firestop systems around piping, using ASME A 112.20.2. This new requirement for ASME A 112.20.2, Standard for the Approval of Installers of Fire Stop around Piping, will become mandatory once a municipality adapts the IAPMO Uniform Plumbing Code, 2009 version.

FCIA’s Bill McHugh and the FCIA attorney, Mark Singley appealed to the IAPMO Standards Council, then also to the IAPMO Board of Directors in February. We are now appealing above IAPMO to the ANSI Board of Standards Review (BSR) and will appeal to ANSI’s Board of Directors, if we’re not successful.

Our concern is with a section of ASME A 112.20.2, that does all but say the term, “journeyman plumber.”  In section 8.2, we objected to:

“The certified firestop installer shall have a minimum of four 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 specifically mandate work to any trade.

The FCIA Firestopping ANSI BSR Hearing is Aug. 6, 10 a.m., at the ANSI headquarters in New York. We request that FCIA members and AHJ’s write letters to ANSI’s BSR at their New York headquarters. Tell ANSI’s BSR how it’s wrong for a union to use the plumbing code to create jurisdictional claim for fire resistance, when their consensus should only include plumbing; and that mandating four years experience is not justified and adds cost to a building that’s not justified.

Even if you are not a firestop contractor – or if you are either a union or non-union contractor – this affects your trade. If a precedent like this is set, others will use the codes to dictate which labor force is used and at which wage rate.  This move circumvents the normal labor jurisdictional procedures through the National Labor Relations Board and other entities.

UL STP Meets at FCIA – At FCIA’s Education and Committee Action Conference, a meeting of the main participants at UL’s Standards Technical Panel for UL 1479 and UL 2079 met to finalize discussions:

  1. Movement of Penetrating Items – Should there be movement of penetrating items as part of the test procedure in UL 1479? It was determined that these items do move due to water hammer, thermal expansion, and movement of the horizontal supporting assembly caused by loading, auto and pedestrian traffic. It was agreed to further quantify the movement using structural analysis taking into account rigidity of the penetrating items, and other important characteristics of the construction. References exist in UL 2079 and ASTM E 2307 that can be used to create new requirements.
  1. Chemical, Biological and Radiation Exposure – Although it was agreed there are exposures that these firestop systems experience in the field, the group decided that the exposures need better definition from the industry to understand the chemical and biological risks. Manufacturers may have product physical property data that shows resistance, and it was urged that manufacturers provide data to contractors and building owners/specifiers to understand limitations of these products in specific installations.
  1. Labeling – It was discussed that field labeling to identify what firestop product was used in a firestop systems become mandatory in UL 1479 and UL 2079. The group agreed that labeling should not be mandatory in UL 1479 and UL 2079 Standards, but be an option specified in construction documents for the owner’s acceptance. FCIA’s Firestop Manual of Practice has a full chapter on labeling options.

Thanks UL’s Dan Ryan, STP chair and FCIA contractor, manufacturer and associate members for participating in this productive meeting. Watch for a proposal to be balloted at UL’s Standards Technical Panel.

FCIA at ASTM Meetings – ASTM’s E-06 Committee met in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. E-06 is the group where the ASTM E 2174 & ASTM E 2393 Standards for the Inspection of Installed Fire Stops are managed. FCIA is the chair of these standards, and recently balloted about 40 items. At the BC Meeting, we adjudicated 26 negatives at our Task Group Meeting, then at the ASTM Sub-Committee. There was not a quorum present to adjudicate at main committee, and we’re waiting for ASTM to circulate a letter ballot. Regardless, we believe we’ve removed the non-mandatory language in the standards through this past ballot. In the meantime, we submitted the 2004 version of these standards for approval at the ICC Code Development process, and will present the 2009 Standards when they are available later this summer. ASTM E-05 meetings are the week of June 20, also in Vancouver, Canada.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams

Enjoy the summer!

Bill McHugh FCIA Executive Director

© Copyright FCIA 6/13/09 - 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

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