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[ Spotlight: Firestop products ]

required to cover different wall or fl oor types, different pipes or cable materials and diameters. For instance, polyurethane foam that claims to achieve four hours’ integrity and be tested to BS476 will have been tested on a very thick wall with a very narrow joint. If the gaps are larger or the walls are thinner, the actual time will be dramatically reduced. It is always advisable to look for or request an offi cial assessment that will detail the different ways the product can be used. If in doubt, insist on seeing a copy of the test certifi cate or the assessment. Good manufacturers will supply an engineering judgement

or assessment from a ‘suitably qualifi ed person’ in their company, if the application is non-standard, based on assessed test evidence.

2. How is the manufacturing quality controlled? Imagine a manufacturer passes a fi re test and markets a product – what is to stop him removing the active ingredients? Even if you can’t specify a particular product, it is advisable to request one with a third-party product approval, for example, LPCB, Certifi re or FM. Wilf Butcher, chief executive for the Association for

Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) commented: ‘Third party product certifi cation schemes regularly assess that the product sold is manufactured to the specifi cation used in the original fi re test and that nothing has changed that might affect the performance of the product. They will also be application specifi c, in order to ensure that products are only used in a confi guration that will meet the integrity and insulation performance achieved in the fi re test.’ According to Approved Document B – Fire Safety (from

the Building Regulations 1991), ‘the product… should be in accordance with a specifi cation or design, which has been shown by test to be capable of meeting that performance or have been assessed from test evidence against appropriate standards.’ Again, good manufacturers will supply an engineering

judgement or assessment from a ‘suitably qualifi ed person’ in their company if the application is non-standard, based on assessed test evidence.

3. Is the installation correct? Specifi ers can easily help ensure that the product is fi tted properly by stating that installation is carried out by trained people. Even the best intumescent mastic on the market will not work if there is just a smear on the surface of the wall. Therefore, knowing how much product to use is crucial. A third party accredited installer, accredited by FIRAS or

LPCB for example, will have undergone installer training. Their companies will have to provide the paper trail to show what products were used and where, which will ultimately protect the installer. Third party product/installer accreditation is recommended

in all the guidance documents that support the legislation in Great Britain, including the following: a) Building Regulations. b) Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order for existing Buildings. c) Hospital Technical Manuals (HTM). d) BB100 for building schools.

Will the installation prevent the spread of smoke and fl ames into the next compartment for the intended time period?

It is also strongly recommended by the insurance industry in their ‘Essential Principles Document’. If your applications are too small to employ a specialist,

then at least ensure your operatives have received formal application/product education from the manufacturer.

4. Will the product degrade over time? Firestop products will probably never activate or need to perform; they will sit in a ceiling void or a wall and just absorb moisture and dust, etc, from the environment, as well as humidity for years and years. Moisture and temperature changes can degrade chemical products, so an age tested system should always be specifi ed. Recognised age testing of products, similar to that for concrete, is a good method where the products life cycle is replicated; following this, the product is then fi re tested to ensure it performs to its original functionality. Fire testing is likely to be done on a seal that has been

installed just days or weeks before the test, but, in reality, a fi re could happen years after the product was installed. If, however, they are called upon to activate, you need to have the confi dence that they will act as per the original fi re test. In Private Finance Initiative (PFI) type projects you may

have responsibility for the building maintenance for 25 or more years, so it’s important for you to know in case of a fi re, that these products will still function as tested.

5. Where does the liability fall? With current legislation, liability for poor fi restopping is shared by all parties from the designer and the construction fi rm to the installer, yet forthcoming legislation means individuals will be responsible, so it is important to understand where liability falls. According to the ASFP, 2008 had the highest UK

About the author

Paul Gill Paul Gill is Hilti product manager – construction chemicals, and is responsible for introducing passive fi re products and system solutions for Hilti

peacetime fi re losses of all time, rising over the previous year by 16 per cent to a record £1.3bn. That’s why we must all play our part. The ASFP advises: ‘If you are involved in provision of a fi re protection package, at any level, then you share liability for its usefulness and its operation when it’s needed in a fi re, and that liability will still be there in the event of a court case.’ Specifi ers and installers need to incorporate fi restop as an

integral part of their role and, by adhering to these fi ve points, any individual or company is well on the way to protecting lives, property, and minimising liability.

Winter 2010 ECA Today 37


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