For approximately 40 years, unprotected or improperly protected penetrations have presented a subject of much concern to the fire-protection community. The arriving firefighters discovered several fires had broken out in five remote locations, filling many different areas of the building with smoke. According to the National Fire Protection Association's report on the fire, unprotected vertical and horizontal penetrations provided one of the major contributing causes of the rapid, erratic spread of smoke and fire. These openings allowed the smoke to spread beyond the electrical rooms and into occupied floors. Numerous fires similar to this one have emphasized the need for fire stopping the penetrations made by electrical installations. As a result of these fires, the respective committees developed requirements for both the building code and National Electrical Code NEC. These requirements insist on the installation of through-penetration fire stopping.
Penetrations in fire rated systems
Butler Engineering | Firestopping
Penetration firestopping systems and fire resistive joint systems are a passive means of fire protection. There is no movement or activation required. These passive systems are mainly used to compartmentalize a fire and keep it from spreading for a period of time long enough that occupants can evacuate the building and so firefighters can perform initial lifesaving tasks. Modern buildings are full of various services that travel from room to room throughout a building. Electrical cables, data cables, and plumbing pipes are few of the items that pass through walls as they travel through a building. Engineers try to avoid having these services pass through fire and smoke barriers, but it is usually impossible.
Fire Stopping: What Every Contractor Needs to Know
It ensures that fire, smoke and toxic gases are contained to reduce the tragic loss of human life and damage to property. Firestopping is an effective way of Building Compartmentation. To prevent the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases within a building, certain walls, floors and joints are required to meet a specific fire resistance rating.
Penetrations in fire-rated construction can allow spread of fire and smoke from one firecell to another if they are not correctly tested, specified or installed. It is always recommended to resolve and specify fire rated service penetrations in the design office rather than on-site. For proprietary systems contact the relevant penetration seal supplier.