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Fireblocking - What is Code Compliant?

Fireblocking – What is Code Compliant?

Understanding the dreaded “or approved material” in fireblocking code requirements

Are you confused about what products are approved for fireblocking applications or what test standards you should use when evaluating a product? Do you wish there were some sort of comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand resources?

You’re not alone.

The “Fireblocking – What is Code Compliant?” training course, headed by an experienced firestopping professional, provides valuable information when it comes to understanding the code language “or approved material,” helping you to make better decisions regarding whether a product should be used as a fireblock.

Read on to learn more, as well as find out how you can get 25% off this training course.

To say the world of fireblocking and firestopping is complex would be an understatement. Firestopping and fireblocking each have different requirements, different building codes, and differing installation requirements. The difficulties that these differences present are only compounded by the huge array of products available for use. Each year, we receive hundreds of phone calls and emails from contractors, inspectors, and architects who are genuinely wanting to build better, requesting guidance on correct product usage and applicable codes. 

Of course, here at Everkem Diversified Products, we’re happy to oblige. While there are many notable differences between the two, they share a common, vital purpose. The purpose of fireblocking and firestopping is to protect property and life and that’s something we’re passionately committed to. As a manufacturer of fireblocking and firestopping products, it’s our responsibility to take an active role in ensuring that purpose is fulfilled. That role can take the form of providing product training, answering code questions, or providing engineering judgments. Oftentimes, it comes in the form of product recommendations, making sure the right product is used correctly in the proper applications – even if the right product isn’t ours. For the Everkem team, it always includes educating when, where, and however we can.

Sharron Halpert

So you can imagine our pleasure at making the acquaintance of Sharron Halpert, owner of Halpert Life Safety Consulting, LLC. Her firm specializes in offering training, consulting, and inspection services to contractors, architects, local governments… practically anyone who has any involvement with creating, following, or enforcing building codes.

With over 20 years of experience in the firestopping industry that includes having overseen more than $18 billion in projects

covering 25+ million square feet, she knows her stuff. That knowledge is complemented by a genuine, infectious concern for the safety of all those served by proper adherence to the building codes. She originally contacted us as part of an information-gathering mission for an upcoming unit in an online training series she was putting together called “Firestop Coffee Break Training”. This series’ goal was to break complex firestopping concepts down into short, easy-to-understand chunks that didn’t feel like coursework and could fit into your life as easily and naturally as a coffee break.

This specific unit, we learned, was prompted by a devastating fire in an ongoing apartment project. While the building was unoccupied and thankfully there was no loss of life, the fire caused roughly $16 million in damage. The frightening part is that it could have been much worse.

It’s important to note that this project required a third-party special inspector who was responsible for reviewing the firestop installations. The fire happened in phase two of the project. Phase one was already occupied and was constructed with the same defects that likely allowed the fire to propagate. the frustrating part is that the damage that was sustained could have been minimized if the construction had been better, and the construction could have been better if only things weren’t so confusing.

And that, Sharron explained, was the goal of the training course – to provide some much-needed clarity; that by the end of the training one would understand the differences between fireblocking and firestopping, as well as be able to interpret the vague, dreaded fireblocking phrase found in building codes: “or other approved material“. Specifically, how to decide if something should (or shouldn’t) be approved by looking at existing code language, testing and certifications, product installation instructions, and other documentation.

While Sharron has over 20 years of firestopping experience, the realm of fireblocking was, in her words, “a different creature”. As a company that got its start in the fireblocking industry, and offers product solutions for both fireblocking and firestopping we can confirm that it is truly different.

After hearing the goal and scope of the training program, we couldn’t help but want to be involved and help out in any way we could. We were more than happy to lend a hand in the project by relaying the evolution of the fireblocking building codes, what tests applied to fireblocking and how they’re performed, as well as our own experiences.

The course, “Fireblocking – What is Code Compliant?” is an International Code Council approved course that can be used to meet Continuing Education Requirements. It consists of 25 lessons broken down into a series of short ‘coffee break’ videos that range from 5 to 20 minutes long, set against the backdrop of the real-world fire which was the impetus for the training.

Calling on her past experience as a kindergarten teacher, Sharron makes a point to breathe life into the building codes and turns the fire test standards into stories. She connects the dots so that you don’t have just random facts floating around in your head, but actual connection of concepts which directly translate to what you’re likely to encounter in the field.

Screenshot of the 'Fireblocking - What is Code Compliant?' course
The “Fireblocking-What is Code Compliant?” course is broken down into 25 lessons, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes, that are perfect for viewing on your daily coffee break.

The course dives into the fire test standards relating to both fireblocking and firestopping – outlining their similarities and differences, detailing how these tests are modified as well as what those modifications mean. It also covers the code language in the IBC and IRC relating to firestopping and fireblocking. It even takes a thorough look at the submittal documents of multiple products, examining what specifiers, installers, and inspectors should be looking at when deciding whether to approve a material for fireblocking purposes. All of this is summed up by a few additional messages from fire investigators which help drive home the lessons before you have to deal with a fire on one of your projects.

Everkem Diversified Products is thrilled to have been able to assist, even in just a small part, with the project. We’re arguably even more thrilled that we’ve partnered with Sharron and Halpert Life Safety Consulting for a unique code you can use to get 25% off of the cost of the “Fireblocking – What is Code Compliant?” course. Simple enter EVERKEM25 at checkout to receive the 25% discount.

For additional reading that can help prime you for the training program, check out our firestopping resources.

Visit Halpert Life Safety Consulting to learn more about how Sharron and her firm can improve your project’s level of life safety.