Through use of fire rated walls, ceilings and floors in combination with firestopping materials, fire and smoke dampers and fire and smoke doors , the passive fire protection system allows the fire to be contained so fire fighters can concentrate on a fire before it has the ability to spread to other areas of the building. In essence, your facility is only fully protected from the risk of fire when these two systems are working together, if one is working and not the other, your facility is at risk.
A plethora of building codes, such as the 2006 and 2009 International Building Code, as well as the International Fire Code and NFPA, require the maintenance of fire-rated barriers and serve as a reminder that all openings made within these barriers for the passage of pipes, electrical conduit, wires, ducts, air transfer openings, and holes should be protected. Maintaining the integrity of a facility’s passive fire protection system made the Joint Commission’s most recent list of “Top Ten” frequently cited standards and occurred in more than 50% of the hospitals surveyed for accreditation. According to the list, The Joint Commission seems to be noticing more and more unsealed penetrations in fire rated walls and barriers. In many cases, barriers had been filled but with inappropriate firestop material.
Often times due to budget constraints, many facilities challenge themselves with maintaining fire rated barriers and choose to tackle applying firestop material in-house. This is proving to be an unfortunate mistake as some of the most common penetration deficiencies in hospitals range from improper installation of firestop material and the use of incorrect UL Systems for the barrier at task. Many maintenance engineers do not realize that choosing the correct firestop system is often a complex and difficult task and education and training is required to determine the correct certified UL system that brings a rated barrier back to its original rating once compromised. The inability to dedicate staff to education on firestopping and training limitations seem to be making an already troublesome problem in hospitals even bigger.