Properly installed firestop can save lives, protect property

Mechanical Insulators LMCT | Properly Installed Firestop Can Save Lives, Protect Property

Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust (LMCT) Trustee Tom Dake II appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the importance of properly installed firestop, which can save lives and protect property. 

Dake is also the Vice President of the Fire and Life Safety Services Division at Superior Industrial Insulation Company. Superior Insulation is a signatory contractor with multiple Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local Unions. 

He appeared during Fire Prevention Week, which takes place from Oct. 9 to Oct. 15. 

Firestopping materials are used to seal openings around wires, plumbing, conduit and other construction materials to prevent smoke and fire from spreading throughout a compartmentalized building, Dake explained. Federal building codes have mandated its use since the 1970s, but often times it was improperly installed, he said. Since the early 2000s, Mechanical Insulator Unions have made a consolidated effort to improve the quality of firestop application in the interest of safety, he added. 

All too often, Dake believes the job of installing firestop falls to the lowest guy on the jobsite who is given a bucket of red goo and told to seal every hole he can find, instead of a concerted approach to seal every opening, pipe and duct. 

Dake then talked about the improperly installed firestop he has witnessed over the years, including fast food wrappers and toilet paper rolls forced into openings. He noted such carelessness can lead to devastating consequences.

Discussion then turned to the training Dake provides to Insulator Union apprentices and journeymen and the need to raise awareness on the critical importance of firestop installation, especially to building managers.

As a certified firestop expert, he provides training that focuses on the reason firestop is installed and the tragedy that can result through improper installation, he said. 

Training sessions often involve a mock wall that simulates a burn in the field, and firestop material is purposefully installed incorrectly to show the consequences that can happen as a result, he added.

When on a jobsite, Dake can immediately tell if firestop was installed properly. It is his experience that the problem is prevalent in older buildings where new wiring has been installed but not necessarily firestopped, he added.

Listen to the entire interview:

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