Quelfire talks the importance of early engagement in firestopping products


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Craig Wells, Sales Director, Quelfire highlights the importance of early engagement in firestopping products and what’s required from a client’s perspective

As a manufacturer and supplier of specialist firestopping products for gaps and penetrations in buildings, Quelfire has made it their mission to use their knowledge to promote the importance of early engagement in firestopping. This being the practice that firestopping should be considered at the earliest stages of construction and firestopping contractors, as well as the firestopping manufacturers, should be involved.

Early engagement in firestopping is imperative because ultimately, it saves lives and protects property. By designing and installing firestopping solutions correctly, this allows it to do its job when exposed to fire.

To ensure buildings are safe and comply with relevant regulations, firestopping needs to be designed according to manufacturers’ tested details. If firestopping is not considered when decisions are made about the location of compartmentation walls and main routes of M&E services, there is no guarantee that the manufacturer will have a tested solution. If these discrepancies come to light too late in the project, participants can face serious extra costs and delays due to needing to redesign service penetrations. By involving the specialist firestopping contractor and the manufacturer in the early stages, these can be avoided.

Moreover, considering firestopping at the early stages will support work further down the line when the project enters the installation stage. It will give all parties involved extra time to utilize the support offered by the manufacturer, such as on-site training about the correct installation of products as per the design and manufacturer’s guidance.

Passive fire protection is a complex matter, needing coordination between several trades and for all factors to be considered. However, having a clear, structured plan will safeguard reputations and give a competitive edge, eliminating any concerns about non-compliance amidst the increased scrutiny in the construction industry. 

Who Else Needs to be Engaged?

The virtual panel discussion titled: “Firestopping service penetrations – the importance and benefits of early engagement” of the London Build (2020) highlighted that firestopping service penetrations should not only be about the firestop products, but about the services themselves and the substrate construction. It’s important to engage with all trades and system manufacturers involved, such as manufacturers of gas pipes or sprinkler pipes, as well as contractors installing these systems. For example, the insulation that is added to the pipes will need to be determined that there is a tested firestopping solution compatible with it before building can start. Therefore, every participant must communicate with each other before anything gets designed or built to avoid running into any problems later.

Quelfire’s support

Committed to protecting people and property, Quelfire are advocates of early engagement in firestopping and are keen to educate the construction industry about the importance of fire safety. By working together with every participant involved in a construction project, from design to installation, Quelfire offer value-added services and support material to facilitate all parties in achieving compliance.

An early engagement consultation can be hosted via Teams or Zoom, with face-to-face meetings being an option if required. This consultation will identify the requirements of the project through the Quelfire information collection form (ICF) with additional drawings for more complex scenarios. This is an internal process, designed by Quelfire, that helps collect all necessary information to provide a correct tested detail. For example, the composition and size of services running through a compartment wall, or whether a letterbox is being formed. A follow up with a package of suitable standard details will then be issued accordingly. These consultations will involve and primarily work to educate all members of the project team.

As Quelfire specialise in firestopping, they have a dedicated technical team who are readily available to help with any questions and challenges that come up during the later stages of the project. To support design and specification, on the website there is no-strings-attached technical documentation such as: NBS specifications, BIM models, tested detail drawings and product datasheets.

Other than technical advice, Quelfire offer high-level, CPD certified, training on Effective Passive Fire Protection. This is beneficial for anyone involved in the design or management of installation of firestopping solutions. The CPD training is available as an open webinar for individual registration and as a dedicated session for organisations such as: architect practices, main contractors, and other organisations.

One important detail that gives Quelfire a competitive advantage is their wider range of tested details. By using real-life scenarios and regular customer feedback, they carry out fire tests monthly, with a significant proportion of their annual investment going into R&D. 

The requirements

Quelfire appreciate how difficult it is to change current practices within construction. However, they firmly believe that it is a necessary change to help reduce the risk of further incidents and overall, help improve the perception of the construction industry. In most cases, a cultural change is required to appreciate that decisions made about fire stopping are life safety decisions.

Being dedicated to ‘doing it right the first time around’ and paying attention to detail will not only improve fire safety but work to serve all parties. By taking these measures at the design stage, all parties can relish in the fact that they are saving lives and protecting property, whilst knowing that they are preserving their reputation.

Further to this, it is essential for cross-party communication and coordination. Referring to the ‘Firestopping of service penetrations: best practice in design and installation’ and ASFP’s development, there are 37 questions that need to be considered when designing and installing firestopping solutions. Not a single party involved will know the answer to all questions, so it is vital that every party participates and shares their expertise. This further links to competency and the idea of knowing what you do not know and being prepared to seek professional advice from firestopping contractors and manufacturers.

By providing these value-added services, Quelfire can educate all parties involved to decrease the risk of any catastrophes, like Grenfell, happening in the future. Through using every platform to get the word out, they hope to be the catalyst of a cultural change that encourages buildings being designed around available tested solutions. As FIREX approaches, there has never been more of an urgent time than now to have these important conversations about early engagement in firestopping.

This article was originally published in the May edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here

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