Firestopping Testing—Continuous Evolution for Safety

Randy Bosscawen

Bill McHugh

Bill McHugh has been the Executive Director of the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA), National Fireproofing Contractors Association (NFCA), and Chicago Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA). He has been in the construction industry for 40+ years specializing in fire-resistance, roofing, and waterproofing. He participates in the code development process at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Code Council (ICC), State of Illinois, and City of Chicago. He has served on the ICC’s Fire Safety Code Development Committee, serves on the Fire Protection Features Committee at NFPA, and is a past member of the International Accreditation Services (IAS) Board of Directors. At the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), he serves as organizer and moderator for the ASHE/TJC/FCIA/UL Barrier Management Symposiums. He is also a past Institute Director, Chapter, and Region President at the Construction Specifications Institute. McHugh produces Life Safety Digest, the Magazine of Effective Compartmentation, is principal author of the FCIA Firestop Manual of Practice, and speaks at conferences, webinars, and symposiums. He can be reached at

June 1, 2006

The ASTM Task Group E5.11.02 for ASTM E814, chaired by John Valiulis of HILTI, Inc., is considering the addition of an air leakage standard to E814.

The air leakage could be similar to what exists in UL1479 for simulation of smoke movement through firestop systems. Air leakage—“L” ratings—are the industry’s suitability statement for use of firestop systems in fire- and smoke-rated assemblies. The International Building Code has new requirements for firestop systems for L ratings less than five cubic feet per minute per square foot of opening area (cfm/sf).

The Perimeter Fire Containment task group produced ASTM E2307, Standard Test Method for Determining Fire Resistance of Perimeter Fire Barrier Systems Using Intermediate-scale, Multi-story Test Apparatus. This new test determines suitability for use of products in perimeter fire containment systems, evaluating performance of the perimeter fire containment system in preventing fire from spreading floor to floor through the void safing slot area between the floor slab edge and the exterior curtainwall system. At the 2005 Windsor Building high-rise fire in Madrid, Spain, for example, rapid fire spread occurred due to lack of perimeter fire containment systems.

A perimeter fire containment “leap frog” standard task group, the E05.11.20 development committee, also met in 2005. This group will continue to refine requirements in this important area in 2006, according to Thermafiber, Inc.’s Jim Shriver, Chair of the committee. Task Group E05.11.22 is studying smoke barriers and smoke partitions.

In another task group headed by Firestop Contractors International Association’s (FCIA’s) Randy Bosscawen (of Multicon Fire Containment), a new standard for qualifications of firestop inspectors is under development. The task group sent an early edition of the standard for ballot and received several negatives, most of which resulted in changes included in the next draft. Another meeting will take place soon to bring several viewpoints into the standard development process. This standard will be a companion standard to the existing ASTM E2174 and ASTM E2393 standards.

FCIA Manual of Practice Updated

FCIA’s Firestop Industry Manual of Practice (MOP) had more than one hundred pages updated in 2005. Testing, products, and maintenance sections all were rewritten by the FCIA Technical Committee. The MOP focuses on many aspects of the firestopping industry and highlights the quality protocols needed to install firestopping to the systems documentation from various testing directories. “FCIA will be working on three more sections in 2006 because the MOP is a living document,” said FCIA Technical Committee Chair Mike Dominguez of Firestop Specialties, Inc., Miami, FL.