Newsletter December 8, 2003

Read the 2003 Firestop Industry Conference Report with FCIA Elections, the Chicago Hi Rise Fire, "FCIA Member Contractor" in Specs, FM 4991, FCIA Committees and more.

Firestop Industry Conference

FCIA's Firestop Industry Conference, November 12 - 15, 2003 was a real success story. Attendance was up over last year, and specially written, original education seminars brought the Firestopping Industry's present and future to FCIA Members attending the conference. Below is a short summary of the sessions:

FCIA Goals - The FCIA Board reaffirmed and shared goals with FCIA Members. FCIA's primary goal is to "Promote Firestop Trade Development"...through FCIA Membership Growth; Codes Influence; Training of FCIA Firms and Installers; more FM 4991 Approved Contractors; and promotion of the "Specialty Firestop Contractor Concept" with other trade / influential organizations. FCIA's activities rotate around these goals.

Standards for Firestop Design - Richard Smits, with Skidmore Owings and Merrill, a leading US architectural firm, and his team, developed "standards" for arranging the location of piping, cables, ductwork and other penetrating items as they pass through walls, floors, and shared them with FCIA as a "Best Practice Exchange". How much clearance is needed between a ceiling, a wall and a penetrating item so installers can actually reach the areas to firestop, was just one of the questions they tackled? FCIA's Technical Committee is reviewing the standards for acceptance, then promotion to the code, design and construction community.

NFPA Update - Robert Solomon, NFPA Assistant Vice President, Quincy, MA delivered a program on the history of fire protection in buildings, an update on NFPA 5000 and extended an invitation for FCIA to visit NFPA's Quincy, MA Headquarters. FCIA has been forming relationships with important influences in the industry since it's inception. On November 24, 2003, FCIA Past Presidents Aedan Gleeson and Blase Reardon together with Executive Director, Bill McHugh met with Robert and NFPA Vice President Gary Keith, to talk about the Firestopping Industry and our joint concern over fire & life safety. Robert mentioned that the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has been promoting much the same "Passive Fire and Life Safety" story through their "Partnership for Safer Buildings". FCIA has already contacted NASFM to develop further conversations about our industry. Richard Keith, Disney's "Reedy Creek Fire Protection District", offered perspectives on inspection and enforcement as well.

The Pentagon Reconstruction - Eben Hamilton (Hensel Phelps) and Carol Womack (DMJMH+M), from "PENREN", the Pentagon Reconstruction Project, took us on a picture tour of the Pentagon Project before and after September 11, 2001. FCIA Members Woody Smith (Chesapeake Firestop, Inc. - Firestopping) and Kathy Taraba, (Rolling Plains Construction - Fireproofing) have been working with PENREN to restore the complex to it's grandeur.

Building Commissioning - Carl Lawson, PWI Consulting Engineers, Inc., offered his 30+ years experience on "Construction Industry Quality Issues", and why using an FCIA Member Contractor makes sense. "Owners are tired of Change Orders and Claims, this is OUR project", Carl stated. Commissioning as a concept was discussed. FCIA Member Chris Downey, (C.L. Downey Construction, Inc.) has installed Firestopping in buildings where Carl was the commissioning authority for the owner.

Contracts - What FCIA Member Contractor doesn't deal with Contracts all day long? Bill Munyan, Director, Specifications, Freeman-White Architects, Inc., gave a fact filled and very humorous, presentation about what to look for in standard AIA 201 contracts, from the professional specifier, owner and subcontractor perspective. Substitutions, Shop Drawings, Prime Contract methods were discussed, with much vigor. Lots of notes were being taken during this presentation!

Code Update - Bill Koffel, FCIA's Code Consultant, and Jim Park, (RectorSeal) IFC's designate to the FCIA Conference, showed us how codes are being impacted by FCIA efforts. Bill Koffel and Kathy Taraba, FCIA Code Committee Chair, have worked long and hard to promote "Passive Fire and Life Safety" in both the ICC and NFPA Codes. Although the code change process is slow, our group is having some successes. However, Bill mentioned that our industry needs research for data on smoke control. Also, the important building height and area table requirements are being reviewed as well. The height and area tables determine the compartment size a in a building. The codes allow a 12,000 SF compartment size in a building without sprinklers, and 100,000 SF compartment with sprinklers. Code organizations are reviewing whether a smaller, 33,000 SF compartment with sprinklers might be more appropriate for Fire and Life Safety, according to Bill Koffel, FCIA's Code Consultant. This is an important step towards safer buildings using both Passive and Active Fire Protection Features.

Security Issues - Dave Gergescz, Gage Babcock Assoc., shared with attendees that Security is not code mandated, but may be completely different in buildings, without respect to building type, location, owner/manager or city/state philosophy . Security is not regulated, and as such, becomes "whatever the owner/manager feels is appropriate". This industry, and the firestopping industry, could work together to prevent the spread of fire, smoke, and possibly other contaminants in buildings. Further study is needed by both groups to see how Firestopping could be a vital part of the building security system.

Friday Walkaround Sessions - Being Flexible is important to all contractors as a key to success. Friday's walkaround sessions were a perfect example of what Firestopping Contractors deal with daily.....the first sessions at each station generated discussion that lasted well past the finish time, so we just kept rolling. Bob Leclair (A.F. Underhill, Inc.), Tom Hottenroth (Firestop Solutions) and Bill McHugh, FCIA Executive Director delivered a program on "How to get FM Approved", while Ray Usher (Superl, Inc.) and Jim Shriver (Thermafiber, LLC) spoke on "Perimeter Fire Containment". Mark Schneider (Albion Dispensing Solutions, Inc.) and Bill Meek (Graco, Inc.) spent time outside demonstrating tools for FCIA Member field production. Sessions were well attended, with much discussion resulting from the programs.

FCIA's Firestop Industry Conference Golf Outing - Playing Disney's Magnolia Course where Tiger Woods was just a few weeks earlier, FCIA Member Richard Keeney, (Firestop International, LLC) finished the day with an 89, taking home the Albion Sponsored "Silver Caulk Gun Trophy" as the Low Net for the day. Low Team score went to Ted Smith, (Guest of Richard Keeney) Guy Bradley, (HILTI, Inc.), Tom Hottenroth, (Firestop Solutions) and Richard Keeney, (Firestop International). Low Net went to Richard Keeney, (Firestop International). Winners of the Longest Drive (in the fairway) and Longest Putt went to Guy Bradley, (HILTI, Inc.) and Gary Locke (A/D Fire Protection Systems). Kathy Taraba (1 Source Firestop, Inc.) swept the ladies awards.

FCIA's Awards Banquet - With the tradition of excellence started by Aedan Gleeson, FCIA's First President, Scott Rankin, FCIA 2003 President (Pyro-Stop, LLC) and Ray Usher, FCIA 2004 President (Superl, Inc.), teamed up to recap FCIA's year, and look to the future. Kathy Taraba, (1 Source Firestop, Inc.) was "Honored with Song", for her attendance at her own expense at countless ICC and NFPA code hearings over the past 4 years. Outgoing Board Members were presented with plaques, a small token of appreciation for their service to FCIA. See below for details.

FCIA's Industry Conference Trade Show

FCIA's first formal trade show had 3M Fire Protection Products, A/D Fire Protection Systems, Comput-Ability, Inc., Fire Protection Technologies, Inc., MetraFlex, MM Systems, Nelson Firestop Products, PFPP/Johns Manville, RectorSeal, Specified Technologies, Thermafiber, Tremco, Watson Bowman Acme, displaying the latest in Firestopping and Expansion Joint Technologies.

FCIA Thanks Sponsors

FCIA Thanks 3M Fire Protection Products, RectorSeal, Specified Technologies, and Tremco who sponsored FCIA Activities; Jim Shriver (Thermafiber LLC) & Chad Landry (Tremco), who provided extra AV Projectors; Tremco, HILTI, Specified Technologies, Albion and Graco for sample materials and equipment used in demonstrations.

FCIA Elections

To serve on an industry association volunteer board means an investment of time and money on behalf of the industry. FCIA appreciates the time and effort of outgoing Board members Blase Reardon, A.F. Underhill, Inc., Past President (6 years of service, FCIA formation steering committee) Don Sabrsula, FireSafe of Houston, Inc., (2 years service), and Renee Woodruff, F.Rodgers Insulation Interiors, Inc., (2 years service). FCIA thanks you for years of dedication to fire and life safety and the advancement of the "Professional Firestop Contractor Concept". The Nominating Committee (led by Renee Woodruff) made a call for nominations in the FCIA E-News, contacted many people and presented four FCIA Contractor Member candidates. Each person was given an opportunity to present their views about "Why Elect Me", during the Firestop Industry Conference. Three were elected to serve 2 year terms, expiring 12/31/05:

  • Don Graves - Fire Barrier, Inc. - San Francisco, CA - (415) 398-0902
  • Bob LeClair - AF Underhill, Inc. - Canton, MA - (781) 828-9760
  • Don Sabrsula - FireSafe of Houston, Inc. - Katy, TX - (281) 391-3331
Next year's nominations take place in August. Think about giving back to the industry, as it pays dividends for the association and you through personal and professional growth for you and your firm.

High Rise Fire in Chicago

The County Building, downtown Chicago had a fire a few weeks ago. There were smoke related deaths due to people trapped in stairwells with locked doors. The fire started in a storage room, with smoke spreading quickly into these "havens of safety". The resulting call for sprinklers in all high rise buildings was met by an FCIA Board opinion sent to local and national media calling for BOTH passive fire and life safety and active fire sprinkler suppression systems. Additionally, FCIA sent an offer to the investigation chair volunteering FCIA resources in the inquiry into the fire.

FM 4991 in Specifications

Specified Technologies, Inc., has recently added FM 4991 to their contractor requirements in "generic specifications" offered to the industry. To date, 3M Fire Protection Products, W.R. Grace & Co., RectorSeal Inc., Specified Technologies, Inc., have FM 4991 mentioned in contractor requirements of their suggested Firestopping specifications. They join ARCOM's MasterSpec, and BSD SpecLink that already specify that FM 4991 Approved Contractors can be used on a project. MasterSpec and SpecLink are master specification programs used by over 10,000 architects for project manual development nationwide. As a result, FCIA Contractors report seeing "FCIA Member and/or FM 4991 Approved Contractor" as a requirement in construction documents. FCIA and FM 4991 are making a difference in fire and life safety through promotion of the "Specialty Firestop Contractor Concept" in our industry. To find out more, read the article that appeared in the "Construction Specifier Magazine".

FM 4991 Approved Contractors - If you were tested as a "DRI" for an FM 4991 Approved Contractor in Boston, November 2000, remember that your three year "Retest" is due. The Retest was written especially for those already with "DRI" Status, and is shorter than the initial test. Additionally, your six CEU units must be filed with Jeff Gould, FM as well. For the forms, visit the respective website page and scroll down to the FM DRI CEU forms.

FCIA Committees

FCIA's first committees were formed at the inaugural meeting in Chicago, January, 1999. As FCIA has grown, it's become clear that a new "process" for committee formation was needed. FCIA Board Member Bob Patton (FireSafe Systems, Inc.) developed and the Board approved a new process for committee involvement. FCIA Members who want to participate on a committee are appointed by the FCIA Board at the January Board Meeting from applications submitted. Call the FCIA Office at 630.690.0682 and we'll FAX a form to apply for committee membership. Most committees meet via teleconference, and / or at FCIA Conferences. There's much to do at FCIA and in our industry to promote the development of the "Specialty Firestop Contractor Concept".

Bill McHugh, FCIA Executive Director

"Knowledge is not power. It is potential power. What's needed is the ability to motivate yourself to do what you know needs doing." - W. Clement Stone

(c) Copyright FCIA 12/8/03 Permission is hereby granted to forward, print, circulate, quote with credit to FCIA.

FCIA is a non profit, volunteer organization of Firestop Contractors, Contractor Branch Offices, Manufacturers and Associate Members interested in furthering life safety through the Professional Specialty Firestop Contractor concept, (knowledge, value, expertise).

For more information, contact the

FCIA Office
Bill McHugh, Executive Director
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Wheaton, IL 60187

630.690.0682 Phone
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