To keep projects on time, on budget, and protected, the engineer needs the right balance of quality and value.
by Jim LeStage
As the big-picture thinkers of any project, plumbing engineers are always considering the timeline and overall budget of a build, anticipating potential challenges, and assessing opportunities for improvement. However, consideration of key details, such as how to effectively firestop a system, should also be an important component of the planning process.
The wide range of firestopping products and prices can create a challenge for plumbing engineers as they evaluate and compare a variety of competing products. To keep projects on time, on budget, and protected, the engineer needs the right balance of quality and value, which helps maintain their professional reputation while also providing safe, efficient, and successful results. This may sound like a tall order, but there are several important aspects plumbing engineers should contemplate while designing firestopping systems.
Choosing a Reliable Firestop System
Reliability and quality go hand in hand. You need to be able to rely on the products you specify and know they are going to operate well in the long run to protect your reputation. Reliable firestopping products are designed to enhance jobsite safety and meet or exceed code requirements.
On top of preventing the spread of fire and smoke, the system should also protect against the spread of water. A firestop device that has a UL W rating built in provides a water seal for unwanted water intrusion without requiring additional products or materials. While safety standard UL 1479 lists W ratings as optional to firestop system compliance, they can help safeguard properties from water damage and mold.
To find reliable firestop products, consider systems from manufacturers that control the product from concept to delivery, allowing better product quality control. Pay attention to how extensive a manufacturer’s firestop portfolio is. With a full suite of integrated products, you can avoid having to source separate code-compliant solutions.
Cost-Effectiveness and Speed
Some firestop systems that come with a more affordable price tag may end up taking more time to install, which in turn diminishes their cost-effectiveness. The quick installs provided by other firestop systems help keep labor costs down and minimize delays, and with the construction industry’s current labor shortage, time is a precious resource.
It can become unprofitably time-consuming on a large project when the firestopping system takes several steps and includes numerous components to complete, but some firestop devices are ready to install right out of the box with built-in firestop material, such as cast-in-place sleeves. By reducing the number of installation steps, certain models can be faster, keeping a project on budget and on time, which your client will appreciate.
Another aspect plumbing engineers need to factor in is potential human error. With more steps to install a device, more mistakes can occur. Options like cast-in-place sleeves streamline installation, minimizing errors that could come from tedious or makeshift methods that are untested and unproven.
The flexibility of a firestop system can also influence cost-effectiveness. If you must specify several components to accommodate different deck types, pipe heights, and diameters, costs can add up. Look for a firestop system emphasizing precision without compromising cost or speed. These systems may come with adjustable components and compatibility with a variety of pipe types and sizes, requiring minimal accessories to get the job done.
Education and Installation Support
Some manufacturers offer support services to make sure technical information is easily accessible and the intent of the project specs is successfully realized. To help to safeguard your reputation and job quality, the manufacturer should offer the following services:
- Reps who walk jobsites, remain accessible, and collect feedback to inform product enhancements and new product development based on your needs
- Training for continuing education units and contractor support
- Assistance with specification authorship via MasterSpec and similar tools
- CAD and BIM-ready content
- Installation detail drawings, installation instructions, and technical test data
By looking for a reputable U.S. manufacturer with a wide array of firestopping products that emphasize quality and value, you’ll be able to find the reliable products needed to complete jobs effectively, hitting deadlines and providing safe and reliable firestop solutions.
To learn more about HoldRite’s firestop portfolio and installation support, visit holdrite.com/firestop-systems.
About the Author
Jim LeStage is the Specification Sales Manager at RWC—a market leader and manufacturer of water control systems and plumbing solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the American Society of Plumbing Engineers.