NFPA 5000 Issues

Letter to Code Officials

November 28, 2001

Dear Sir or Madam:

As you are probably aware, the National Fire Protection Association is in the final stages of drafting a new building code for the United States, to be titled "NFPA 5000, Building Code". There are innumerable technical issues that have been debated within that code development process, and different people will certainly have different opinions on those issues. We, the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA), would like to bring your attention to one particular issue that has cropped up at the very last minute and that seems to us to be very contrary to the interests of good life safety and reasonable property protection in the built environment.

The issue at hand is a last minute amendment that was proposed, to drastically reduce the fire rating of the firestopping that exists at the inside edge of a building with curtain walls. The proposed amendment is as shown in the attached "Public Comment on Proposal Number 5000-534", submitted by Mr. Rick Thornberry, consultant representing Alcan Composites. It proposes to reduce the fire resistance rating of the perimeter fire stopping from the rating of the floor, as was previously in the NFPA 5000 draft, down to 30 minutes. The argument being made is that the fire will leapfrog via the outside of the building, thus making the fire rating of the gap inside the building at the perimeter of lesser or of no importance. The reality of the situation is that fire spread via the outside wall of a building is not a sure thing, and that the interior perimeter joint rating should therefore not be allowed to be reduced based on an assumption of exterior fire passage.

We hope that you share our view that it is inappropriate to introduce a code mandate that consciously and purposely allows a weak spot to be created at the interior perimeter of the building.

Our goal is to urge you to write a letter of support to the NFPA code committee that is responsible for acting on this proposed code change. We have attached a draft letter that you can hopefully paraphrase into your own words and send to us on your own letterhead. Ms. Kathy Taraba of 1 Source Firestop, a contractor member of our organization, is also a committee member of the NFPA Building Code Fire Safety Features Committee. We therefore ask that you direct any letter that you write to her, so that she can share any letters of support for this issue with her fellow committee members that need to take action on this whole issue.

We recognize that your jurisdiction may not be in line to ever adopt the NFPA 5000 as its model building code. However, as a professional involved in safeguarding the safety of the public, we would appreciate hearing from you nevertheless, as the opinions of the building code and fire safety communities are held in high regard within the NFPA process.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this at all, please feel free to contact Ms. Taraba. She can be reached at 303-659-7861, ext. 118, or by e-mail at ktaraba@earthlink.net.

Time is of the essence on this issue. The NFPA committee will be asked to vote on this issue in a letter ballot by November 23rd. We therefore need to receive any letter from you several days prior so that they can be forwarded in time.

Thanking you ahead,

Firestop Contractors International Association
Blasdel A. Reardon


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