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Compromised Fire Resistive Construction Impacts Life Safety
Problems may occur with fire protection materials if they are improperly designed, supplied, installed, damaged by an event/exposure, or inadequately maintained during service. If this happens, the resulting impairment may seriously compromise the expected performance of the fire resistant construction required for life safety and collapse prevention.
Fire protection is provided in varied forms, products and different materials, the most common of which are spray-applied fire resistive materials and gypsum board. Intumescent/mastic coatings, traditional concrete and masonry are also employed.
JENSEN HUGHES conducts various forensic investigations and assignments for fire protection materials on behalf of property owners, manufacturers/suppliers, contractors, insurance companies, and attorneys in occupied buildings, operating facilities, landmark historic sites, and during construction. These range from due diligence reviews of the fire protection within existing buildings which are being converted, improved or acquired to situations where distinct problems are identified after a damaging exposure, or after incidental or inspection observation(s) of material omissions, flaws, detachments or deterioration.
Inspection of In-situ Material Conditions
Key in-situ properties of the fire protection materials, such as thickness, density, strength (adhesion/cohesion, compression, or bending), hardness, composition, combustibility, weathering and fire resistance of the existing fire protection materials may need to be randomly or systematically checked to establish their in-situ properties and how these reconcile with the project design requirements. Such measurements and/or tests may be directly made in the field or performed on field samples in the laboratory. Often, control samples of similar new materials may be tested in parallel with the field materials for comparison.
JENSEN HUGHES engineers can quickly mobilize a field team with the appropriate expertise to survey sites, conduct material measurements and tests, and extract samples for more rigorous laboratory examinations.
JENSEN HUGHES engineers conduct fire testing of actual full-size specimens from field sites, as well as heat transfer analyses to ascertain the fire performance of the in-situ materials. Standard or customized fire protection material testing is conducted by JENSEN HUGHES to accurately determine the in place conditions, deficiencies, causes, and/or solutions to the problem. JENSEN HUGHES engineers review and analyze available original project construction documents, including the design specifications for the passive fire protection and its inspection records, to supplement the in-situ and laboratory test data.
This work is often concluded with development of a suitable repair/remediation strategy to attain or upgrade to the required fire resistance. JENSEN HUGHES has provided consulting services for field oversight of the resulting rehabilitation implementation, together with assistance in follow-up discussions with the AHJ and other vested parties on the outcome of the forensic investigation.
Older buildings may contain archaic fire protection materials, such as lath/plaster and clay tile, that are no longer commonly used in new construction. The condition of these materials can be assessed during repairs or upgrade of the building.
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