Right now firestopping may be just another item on your lengthy to-do list. But think about it this way: installing a firestop system properly is the difference between seconds vs. an hour or more to get patients and staff moved to safety or to defend in place.
All healthcare buildings are required to have firestopping systems in place. It’s even more vital that hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities have these systems because of the nature of what they do. Patients usually aren’t able to evacuate a facility – at least not very quickly.
Knowing that firestopping is crucial in these types of environments, one would think that hospitals and health facilities hire companies with expertise in this field, right? Think again. Many facilities attempt to handle firestopping themselves – and with detrimental results.
Here we’ll break down the top four reasons why you shouldn’t take firestopping in-house. Trust us – you don’t want to know what can happen if you try to perform this life saving work yourself.
Reason #1: Lack of time.
You’ve got a lot on your plate. We get it. On any given day there are a ton of things needing your attention. It’s difficult to devote time to making sure your facility’s firestop systems are installed properly and up to code.
Hiring a firestop company may seem like a waste of money and time, but what happens if deficiencies are found in your facility during an inspection? A poor score could result in a loss of dollars and possibly your facility’s accreditation. Hiring an outside company ensures that someone is keeping an eye on your facility on a regular, periodic basis – not just when inspection time rolls around.
Reason #2: Lack of resources.
Most of the time, in-house maintenance teams put firestopping on the back burner (no pun intended). They do the work in between emergencies, work orders and regular maintenance. With so many other issues competing for their attention, it’s no wonder they don’t have time to handle firestopping too.
You need to hire a company that can oversee the work so that nothing slips through the cracks. Companies like EOCS also look at things through the eye of an inspector and fix deficiencies that are most likely to be caught during a Joint Commission inspection.
Reason #3: Unfamiliar with systems.
Education is critical to successful firestop installations. Yet most teams are not trained properly on firestop tools, products, techniques and installation. When this happens, products are mixed (a big no-no) or repairs aren’t made correctly.
With over 5,000 UL systems in existence, it’s highly likely that your staff is using the wrong systems for any given deficiency. This can affect your facility’s compliance. A company that specializes in firestopping will know the UL systems inside and out, including specific UL system requirements for each manufacturer and product.
Reason #4: No documentation.
Over the course of years, an opening in a wall or over a door could be repaired many times. Each time an opening is upgraded, there’s a big risk that the firestop isn’t installed properly – or worse, not installed at all. As a result, the safety of a facility is jeopardized over time. In most cases, contractors don’t document repairs, installations or inspections, so there’s no way of knowing what work was done.
Facility managers need to document every single firestopped penetration, including when it occurred and who handled the project, as well as any openings that have been reopened and resealed. This documentation is called a barrier management program (BMP). Many firestop companies, including EOCS, have technology that tracks all penetrations and deficiencies and pending repairs. This technology does the heavy lifting so that you can get back to managing your facility.
The bottom line:
Firestopping is a huge undertaking. In order to do it well, you need to hire a professional company that specializes in firestopping and installation. These companies know about wall types, penetration types, fire ratings, etc. They use appropriate UL systems and document every aspect of the job. That way, there’s no question about whether your facility is compliant.
Firestop systems save lives. You wouldn’t leave the installation and maintenance of those systems to just anyone, would you?