Letter to CSI's Magazine, Feb 2001


TO CSI's Magazine, "The Construction Specifier"
- a national publication circulated to over 18,000 CSI members, worldwide.


This is a simple issue of life safety.  We require architects and engineers be registered.  We prefer our specifiers and contract administrators to be certified.  We often require that roofers, waterproofers, painters, and dozens of other applicators be trained or approved.

Yet the people who are in a position to stop us from being burned to death are not certified, registered, trained, or approved.  They walk onto the project site, get handed a caulk, mortar, or mud and are told to fill in joints, gaps, and openings.  Even if they are conscientious, they rarely have the knowledge or training to know whether they are installing the right product or system to save lives.

It's time for the firestopping industry to establish an association which can set standards and certify firestopping professionals the same way welders are certified.  Annually.  Once this is achieved, code officials and design professionals must support and require it.  Manufacturers claim they are trying to provide the training.  The time has come for current training to be mandatory.  Our lives depend on it.

Ken Hercenberg, CSI, CCS, CCCA
RTKL Associates, Inc.  Baltimore, MD


Katherine Sears
Construction Specifications Institute
99 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314

RE: Response to Ken Hercenberg's letter to the Editor - "Addenda" in The Construction Specifier - February 2001

Dear Katherine;

I read with enthusiasm the letter from Ken Hercenberg, RTKL Associates, Inc., about the call for Certified Firestop Contractors.  The timing of his call for certified firestop contractors couldn't be better.  As Past President of the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA) and it's current "Accreditation Committee Chair", I couldn't agree more with Ken's worry that some non-qualified firm is supervising Firestop work, an important life safety component in building construction.  Over the past two years, FCIA has taken steps to answer your call!  They include:

  1. Formed a National Association - The FCIA is a strong national group focused on Life Safety.
  2. FM 4991 Approved Contractors - FCIA hired FM Research, a world leader in construction standards, to write an approval program for firestop contractors, complete with personnel testing and an audit of the firestop contractor's quality program with a separate audit at the project site to verify compliance with their own company procedures.
  3. "FCIA Manual of Practice" - The FCIA Technical Committee wrote this Firestop Industry Book that is used for the basis of the FM Written Test that a "Designated Responsible Individual" (DRI).  To qualify as a DRI, the individual must pass with a grade of 80% or greater.  The FM 4991 Approved Firestop Contractor must employ a DRI as implementer of the program.
  4. FM 4991 Implemented - FCIA and FM held their first "FM Test" for DRI's and contractors went through rigorous audits from FM Personnel to become approved.

FCIA has taken the steps to be the FIRST group of contractors in the construction industry to embrace a formalized quality program, administered not by the contractors, but by a credible independent construction industry leader...FM Research.  FCIA Contractors are committed to Life Safety through knowledge of this specialized trade, expertise demonstrated through a quality program and personnel examination, and providing value to the owner through economies gained with a total "Firestop Systems" approach vs. "a Firestop caulk product", and no system details in hand at the jobsite".

The FCIA Contractors who have invested time and money to be FM 4991 Approved are taking their trade seriously.  FCIA has invested it's own money to create the FM 4991 Life Safety Program.  FCIA Members who are FM 4991 Approved have proven quantitatively that they are truly, "Firestop Specialists" through their demonstrated knowledge and audit tested quality program.    Specify a "FM 4991 Approved Firestop Contractor" to get your client the Life Safety their buiding's occupants deserve. It could be any one of us in a building during a disaster.  Why not protect the investment with an FM 4991 Approved Firestop Contractor.

For more information about FCIA and finding an FM 4991 Approved Contractor, visit the FCIA website at www.fcia.org .

Aedan Gleeson, Past President & Accreditation Committee Chair
Firestop Contractors International Association

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