Compliant fire barrier has continued to be a persistent battle within the ceilings and walls of healthcare facilities. Construction improvements and equipment installations within healthcare buildings are essential for the overall operations of the building, but properly sealed penetrations are critical for keeping occupants safe during a fire-related emergency.
Keeping up with penetrations in need of fire barrier is a persistent battle that takes knowledge, time, and funding to correct. Healthcare facility managers are typically caught in the middle of this battle facing increasingly strict code enforcement and increasingly tighter financial resources. Not only do healthcare facility managers face strict code enforcement and tight budgets, they often face general manpower issues and a lack of experienced fire barrier technicians. Correcting penetrations in large facilities can be a full-time job and with over 5,000 UL systems for properly installing fire barrier, maintaining barriers is challenging.
While maintaining fire barrier within healthcare facilities is challenging, it’s certainly not impossible. We’ve put together a few tips for tackling your facility’s fire barrier challenges based on advice from our highly skilled HILTI and STI-certified technicians.
3 Ways To Tackle Your Firestopping Challenges:
1. If you are not familiar with fire barrier installation techniques, you should seek the help of a specialty contractor. Unlike traditional contractors, specialty fire barrier contractors are specifically trained to install fire barrier systems and maintain assembly ratings. They will have the knowledge and experience to help you choose the correct fire barrier materials and UL systems to address your facility’s penetrations, and will be more efficient throughout the installation process. Finding a Firebarrier Contractors International Association (FCIA) contractor is your best bet on addressing your fire barrier penetrations quickly and easily. Choosing an FCIA contractor like REMEDI8 will also give you added peace of mind knowing that you’ve partnered with a company that knows fire barrier and how to work within healthcare environments.
2. Ensure the installation techniques used to address barrier penetrations are approved and tested to ensure compliance. Fire-barrier penetrations that are not properly addressed and corrected are often a waste of the facility’s time and resources. The requirements for maintaining assembly ratings can be found in UL directories and by testing agencies. While some penetrations may be simple to correct, there are UL systems that become highly complex when the penetrating item, assembly rating, fire barrier materials being used, and other factors are all taken into consideration. Following these UL systems specifications closely and accurately is critical to ensuring compliance and your ability to maintain your assembly’s fire rating.
3. It is important for facilities to be proactive with their plans for addressing fire barrier penetrations. For example, putting a ceiling permit program in place will help ensure that you’re aware of activity happening within the facility that could compromise your fire barriers before the damage is done. Keeping up-to-date life safety plans on hand is another proactive step facilities should take. Knowing where penetrations are located within the facility will save time when work is being done and will allow fire barriers to be addressed as needed.
4. Depending on the size and resources available to the facility, ceiling permit programs, and risk management systems may not be an option. If this is the case, putting in place a fire barrier maintenance program for your facility could be extremely beneficial. Addressing different floors, buildings, or zones of your facility on a monthly or quarterly basis allows your fire barriers to be maintained on a regular basis without overwhelming your resources. A fire barrier maintenance program could allow your facility to ultimately perform a complete facility barrier remediation with the costs being spread out over a year, making fire barrier compliance more affordable and realistic in these situations.
If your facility is in need of assistance maintaining fire barrier penetrations, REMEDI8 is ready to assist you. We are a specialty fire and life safety contractor and an active FCIA member that is dedicated to helping healthcare facilities stay safe and compliant. Contact us today to learn more about our fire barrier services or to receive a free quote.