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Part 4: Insulation: Fire Safety Affects Specification
By Stanley Quentin Hulin
March 2010 -
Managers and engineers also need to understand the fire performance of various insulation materials. Building codes contain fire-test requirements for insulation.
Materials used in HVAC ducts that are exposed in ceiling plenums and occupied spaces must meet strict test requirements for fire safety. When selecting insulation materials to use in these applications, managers need to consult with the local building inspector to make sure the materials comply with fire-safety requirements.
Most insulation materials can be used for every building application, but they might require additional measures to meet the code requirements.
Building codes also set minimum fire-performance levels for building assemblies and their components, such as walls and floors. These requirements vary depending on the building's use and total area.
Fire-resistance tests are performed on building components, and they typically receive an hourly rating, such as one- or two-hour rated walls. These types ofÊassemblies often feature rock and slag wool, due to their high melting point and ability to extend the length of time before fire, heat, and hot gases move through a wall or floor.
Typically, managers do not deal with these issues, but they need to know that holes or penetrations made for plumbing, ducts, and wiring can affect the fire-resistance rating for the floor or wall.
So when technicians install new communication cables or punch holes in walls or floors, they must be sure to seal openings and around penetrating items with an approved firestop system.
Charles C. Cottrell is vice president of technical services with NAIMA.
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) is the association for North American manufacturers of fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation products. Its role is to promote energy efficiency and environmental preservation through the use of fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation, as well as to encourage the safe production and use of these materials.
NAIMA has developed the 3E PLUS insulation-thickness program, an industrial energy-management tool to simplify the task of determining the amount of insulation necessary to reduce energy use, decrease plant emissions, and improve system-process efficiency. The free program is available at www.pipeinsulation.org.
Visit www.naima.org for detailed information on the benefits of insulation and specific guidance on the proper installation of insulation materials.
— Charles C. Cottrell
Insulation Meets Managers' Demands
Part 1: What Are the Benefits of Insulation?
Part 2: Sustainable Insulation: Mineral Fiber and Foam Plastics
Part 3: Insulation Saves Energy, Complies with Building Codes