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Preventing Interior Fire Spread
JENSEN HUGHES exterior wall analyses services involve evaluating the floor line void space protection system needed due to common construction tolerances and to allow for normal building envelop movement. Historical fire data has demonstrated the importance of protecting this gap between the edge of the concrete floor and the exterior curtain wall to limit interior fire spread. Section 715.4 of the 2012 International Building Code (IBC), Exterior curtain wall/floor intersection, requires protecting this critical building feature. Perimeter fire barrier systems, are tested and listed in accordance with ASTM E2307. This test method, developed by JENSEN HUGHES engineers, assesses the fire performance of a perimeter fire barrier system when installed between a fire-resistance rated concrete floor assembly and a representative curtain wall system. Details such as wall framing, glass installation, insulation materials, gap width, and spandrel insulation are factors in providing a robust system capable of resisting flame passage for the required amount of time.
Testing or Analysis A great deal of testing and listing information is available from the firestop manufacturers on perimeter fire barrier system’s fire performance. However, the reality of real-world construction is that not all exterior curtain wall configurations have been tested to demonstrate that the perimeter fire barrier system will prevent the passage of fire, hot gasses, and toxic smoke through this critical area. JENSEN HUGHES staff regularly evaluates the anticipated fire performance of a field installed or designed perimeter fire barrier system for compliance with the building code requirements. When deviations between the tested systems and the installed system are identified by the design team, our engineers review the field conditions and develop technically based solutions which will provide the code prescribed level of protection.
High profile fires have triggered the development of code requirements to fill the gap between the edge of the concrete floor slab and the interior surface of the curtain wall with a system, product, or assembly which will prevent the interior spread of fire for a period of time equal to the fire-resistance rating of the floor slab. These systems may accommodate normal building movements due to thermal or wind conditions or remain intact during extraordinary events such as earthquakes. In addition, the rapidly changing code requirements for metal composites (MCM), exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) and wood panels in exterior wall systems necessitates expertise to navigate these requirements. Through extensive testing, inspection, design, and review of perimeter fire barrier systems in conjunction with frequent discussions utilizing our strong working relationship with the firestop industry; JENSEN HUGHES is uniquely qualified to evaluate the fire performance of these systems. We evaluate conceptual design during the bidding/CD phase, evaluate and inspect systems currently installed in the field for compliance, or propose modifications to existing systems to ensure the current code requirements are met.
Perimeter Fire Barrier System Testing
Through our strong working relationships with the commercial testing laboratories, JENSEN HUGHES can assist our clients in the construction and testing of site specific curtain wall systems to demonstrate code compliance. By assisting our clients in qualifying these systems, we ensure that the system is tested in accordance with applicable testing methods and provide a code complaint system that will maintain the level of life safety required by the building codes.