Fire Separation Protection
The Office of Environmental Health & Safety is conducting an expansive project to repair damage to firewalls, fire dampers, and floor penetrations that have accumulated over the years. To see the firewalls demarcated, refer to the building firewall maps page. The following is a brief introduction to the issues and requirements for protecting these critical life safety structures.
Firewalls separate higher hazard areas and exit routes from the rest of the building. For example, exit stairwell enclosures slow fire in the rest of the building from reaching the exit stairwell. The floors of buildings must not be penetrated for the same reason unless the penetration is within a specially designed chase which is protected by heavy-duty firewalls.
The problem arises when these walls or floors are penetrated improperly. It is possible to pass conduit, piping, or wiring through a firewall or floor, but it must be done properly! You must use a UL-listed system for sealing penetrations in firewalls and floors. Prior to making a hole in any wall, please refer to the building firewall maps page to identify if the wall is a firewall. Prior to penetration through a firewall or ANY floor area, you must contact Risk Management for assistance to ensure fire protection integrity is maintained.
Proper installation requires outside contractors to install UL-listed products that protect the penetration, such as fire caulk, collars, or pillows. Below are some examples of typical penetrations on campus before and after they were corrected by an outside contractor. Note that sleeves that penetrate firewalls (such as running wires through walls) must be sealed around the sleeve AND inside the sleeve.
The bottom line? No open holes (except for special fire dampers) may exist in firewalls! In addition, fire caulk and other protection products must not be disturbed. Note that not all fire caulk is red, and not all firewalls are labeled!
If you are not sure if the wall you are about to penetrate is a firewall, contact EH&S (940-898-4001, option 3, or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fire dampers are special vents that allow air to pass through firewalls to provide air ventilation. However, these vents are set to slam closed in the case of fire. Some dampers are wired into the fire alarm system and close whenever the fire alarm is triggered, but many more are held open until the heat of a fire reaches them.
Unfortunately, since dampers are openings in walls, they are tempting to use as a quick way to run cables, piping, etc. Dampers should NEVER be obstructed. If something keeps them from closing, they can’t do their job and fire could spread more easily.
In addition, fire dampers in ductwork have an access hatch nearby that must be opened for regular inspection. Blocking these hatches with conduit, pipe, or even spools of wire is unacceptable!
Please contact EH&S (940-898-4001, option 3, or email@example.com) if you have any questions about fire dampers or a project you are undertaking that may involve penetration of firewalls.
Page last updated 11:22 AM, May 22, 2023