Gerald Thomas, Nelson Firestop Products
Cable penetrations can be difficult to firestop. However, installers can reduce the complexity of these cable penetrations by being aware of non-fire-related requirements of the penetration, various firestop materials that have been tested by a third-party laboratory and local code requirements.
Before installing the cabling system, you should know design considerations as they relate to firestopping. For example, does the system have to be explosion-proof, watertight or gastight? Will there be frequent cable changes or cabling expansion?
In addition, you should always select materials that have been approved by a third-party laboratory. The UL Fire Resistance Directory contains all systems tested by Underwriters Laboratory. The Factory Mutual Approval Guide and the manufacturer`s technical manual can provide you with detailed instructions and drawings of systems qualified by a third-party laboratory.
No one wants to re-install a system because it did not qualify after a fire or building inspection. You should, therefore, become familiar with your local fire and building inspection codes. Most local code requirements for firestopping are similar, but each municipality may have different labeling regulations. The label will usually identify the system as an installed-through penetration firestop, and it may also list the test reference for the installed system, the manufacturer and the product part number.
Gerald Thomas is national marketing and sales manager for Nelson Firestop Products, a division of O-Z Gedney, Tulsa, OK.