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Fireblock/firestop, to-may-to/to-mah-to, right? No – and it’s important to understand why.
The basic difference is that a fireblock foam is installed in non-rated construction, so there is no need to provide a UL System Detail to the Authority Having Jurisdiction; whereas a firestop foam is put in rated construction and must be installed according to a UL System Detail.
If firestop foam is mistakenly installed in non-rated construction, it might be overengineered and more expensive, but not actually harmful. Getting it wrong the other way could put lives at risk: installing a fireblock foam in rated construction without an accompanying approved system detail could allow fire to penetrate the rated assembly and spread from room to room or floor to floor faster than the rating would indicate. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between a non-rated fireblock foam and a rated firestop foam.
ASTM E814 definition: firestop system, n – a specific combination of penetrating item or items, the specific construction that is penetrated, and the materials or devices, or both, that seal the opening provided to accommodate one or more items that penetrate into or through a fire-resistance rated assembly
Through-penetration of a wall
Blue: penetrating item, such as pipes, cables or ductwork
Gold: penetrated construction
Red: materials or devices that seal the opening and restore the fire rating of the construction
A UL system is like a “recipe” that includes instructions and drawings on how to install a proper firestop system. Fire-rated construction may have openings created by items such as pipes and cables that pass through fire-rated walls or floors – but by penetrating it the fire rating of the entire wall or floor is reduced to zero. If not properly “firestopped” a fire could travel through the annular space, spreading from room to room. There also may be linear openings at the intersections or corners of construction joints such as can be found at fire-rated wall and floor/ceiling joints where fire could spread from room to room. For each of these applications a UL system must be installed to restore the rating of that wall or floor/ceiling and thus prevent the spread of fire, smoke and/or noxious gases. Every different type and size of pipe and cable penetrating through various walls and floors must have a UL tested and listed system firestopping it. A UL system is proof that the products installed to restore the rating have been tested at UL and are listed in the UL directory.
No. The color of the firestop doesn’t matter; what’s important is the UL tested and listed system. Code officials, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) and contractors sometimes mistakenly assume that a firestop must be red and disqualify non-red firestop products. To be accurate, refer to the UL System and not the color of the firestop.
As just one example, 3M offers both red and yellow intumescent firestops. Our yellow-colored IC 15WB+ has 355 UL tested and listed systems. Linked below are 5 of the most popular UL systems that incorporate our yellow colored IC 15WB+.
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