Why Firestop remains the hot topic in the Irish construction sector
01 September 2015
Firestopping remains the hot topic in Irish construction. Along with several high-profile cases of poor practices during the boom years, recent fires in Newbridge town, Kildare and Derry have reignited the discussion and the need to implement best practice to not only save buildings, but lives also.
Dublin’s Priory Hall has become the focal point of everything that was wrong with the Irish construction industry over the past few decades. The building was evacuated by order of the High Court on October 14, 2011, to allow for emergency fire safety works. A total of 290 residents were originally due back by November 28, 2011, but as of today the building is still undergoing refurbishment to make two of the blocks safe.
Six homes in Newbridge burnt to the ground in less than an hour
Fast-forward to March this year when six homes in Newbridge town, Kildare, built in 2006, all caught fire in just 20 minutes and burnt to the ground in less than an hour. A report highlighted widespread inadequate firestopping, which contributed to how fast it spread. Fire consultants Michael Slattery and Associates found boards were not fixed to the studs in the walls and cavity barriers were not provided, which would have enhanced fire resistance¹.
Also in March this year the popular Mandarin Palace and Karma restaurants in Derry were destroyed by fire. While the investigation is still taking place, the pictures show that the fire has spread into several parts of the building. Chief fire officer Chris Kerr commented at the site²: “[It was] a major fire involving two premises fronting onto three city centre streets. Crews were faced with a rapidly spreading fire involving the ground floor and main roof structure.”
All three examples, past and present, are only the tip of the iceberg and highlight the critical need for firestop products in old and new buildings.
In February last year the Department for the Environment, Community and Local Government published the new ‘Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works’ – Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR) February 2014.
Assigned certifiers to ultimately take on significant liabilities when certifying buildings
The guide states that ‘the overall objective of the revised building control system is to achieve better building construction’, and to meet this goal assigned certifiers have been created who will ultimately take on significant liabilities when certifying buildings.
These key individuals will be responsible for getting the approved design from initials plans and designs through to delivery, a huge task incorporating Building Regulations Part A to M; energy efficiency, access, drainage, waste disposal, ventilation, sound, structure, materials, hygiene, site preparation and heat producing appliances.
Included also they must understand all things fire – both active and passive – and be competent to understand the installation and inspection of these products.
To achieve this assigned certifiers will need support, both in terms of expert advice and certification in all stages of the building process, but more so by working with third-party approvals in order to limit liability. This is where specifiers can really make an essential difference, and where we can assist all parties in the construction chain.
Hilti has been manufacturing passive firestop products for more than 20 years, and during that time have made significant developments in market-leading products that not only meet many regulations, but also assist with productivity, health and safety onsite and environmental impact reduction. As important, expert technical engineers can be involved at all stages of the process to ensure the right specification and installation of firestop products.
Three new products – and a clever firestop selector – demonstrate the company’s innovation.
Launched this year the Hilti CFS-C EL Endless collar (Figure 1) – a ‘universal solution’ to firestop standard and non-standard combustible pipes of all diameters up to 160 mm – has the flexibility to fit complex pipe configurations including pipe elbows, inclined pipes and pipes with limited clearance to the wall, ceiling or other pipes.
Each box contains a 2,580 mm intumescent collar, plus 18 closure plates and 22 short hooks, with clear measurement markings meaning the product can be easily cut to size to create an exacting length for the diameter, after which a closure plate and hooks are attached to ensure a secure fitting.
Additionally its intumescent collar – which expands when a fire breaks out – has excellent acoustic properties, is both mould and mildew resistant and comes with a wide range of technical approvals.
The product has been comprehensively tested in accordance to latest European Standards (ETAG 026) and holds a comprehensive European Technical Assessment (ETA). It is approved for use with PVC, polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) pipes as well as a wide array of standard acoustic pipes
The firestop sleeve CFS-SL (Figure 2) represents another innovative product, with a ‘twist and go’ action which solves the issue of re-penetrating a firestop seal when installing additional new cables.
While traditional firestopping relies on the installer of the new cables reinstating any existing firestop seal that is breached, this offers a simple solution as no additional firestop materials are needed, so there is no need for mixing different manufacturers’ firestop products.
A metal housing containing intumescent seals and a glass fibre sealing sock ensures cables are firestopped for up to two hours, and is fully functional immediately after installation. Cables are installed by twisting the sleeve open, revealing a yellow indicator band, then passed through and the sleeve is twisted closed. The action can be repeated as many times as is necessary through the course of the product’s lifetime.
Suitable for use in small to medium size circular openings in walls and ceilings, the product can be used in concrete, masonry and drywall. The main body of the sleeve is placed in a cored hole and clamping plates are attached. The CFS-SL S is CE-marked and tested in accordance with EOTA ETAG No 26 – Part 2.
The cast-in device CP 680 (Figure 3) continues to be the best practice solution for forming holes in concrete frame construction, allowing plastic and metal pipe work to pass through the floor slab. This one-stop installation device requires no additional caulking, allows for the removal and replacement of pipes and also for adjustment during installation. It is suitable for several different pipe materials and conduit sealing for floor penetrations from 1.5” (32mm) up to 6” (160mm).
Over the traditional methods of timber boxes there are clear advantages, in health and safety for example there are no trip hazards, the product prevents water ingress and reduces more trades working at height. Environmentally there is no timber required, less rebar wastage, no power tools or diamond drilling required and is 30-year age tested.
These are just three examples of many innovative Hilti products which will help meet the new BCAR regulations, but of course the major difference to any project will come from manufacturers, specificers and Assigned Certifiers partnering in close harmony to deliver the best possible results and ensure building certification is obtained.
Hilti can support the entire supply chain by having third-party certified products and also by recommending accredited installers, many of whom know the sector inside-out. Furthermore the company offers advice in selecting the right product, provide engineering judgments if needed, plus offers technical support and onsite support.
To assist further Hilti has also launched the Firestop Selector to help choose the right product based on different criteria and requirements. Available for free at http://fsselector.hilti.com, the user can select penetration type, base material and penetrating services and the tool will generate the suitable products to meet the application. It also allows the download of technical documents such as datasheets, ETA and standard AutoCAD details.
Dennis Markey, marketing and operations manager, Hilti Ireland, concluded: “The market must adapt, utilise the legislative measures and place the role of the assigned certifier as central, and by working together the future of building in Ireland can be both safe and sustainable.”
- Hilti, whose trademark red power tools are used on construction sites around the world, operates a direct sales model with more than 25 highly trained Hilti account managers, four engineers as well as four Hilti centres across Ireland
- For further information in relation to Hilti, including careers with the company, please visit the Hilti website: website www.hilti.ie or www.hilti.ie/careers
- Hilti website: www.hilti.ie
- Hilti freephone: 1850 287 387