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September 4, 2013 -
Firestops are a form of fire protection that serve to seal openings in fire-rated walls and floors. Typical openings included mechanical and electrical penetrations, control joints, and the junctions between fire-rated walls and floors. The proper use of firestops in these openings will help to prevent the spread of smoke and flame throughout a facility, limiting damage and giving building occupants more time to safely evacuate.
Firestop products detect heat or fire and automatically discharge or expand at specific locations they were designed to protect. They can be connected to a fixed fire-alarm system so that they trip an alarm and identify a location even while fighting the fire. In this latter respect, they work like the stationary building sprinkler system.
The most common misunderstanding concerning firestops is the belief that firestop is simply the material that is stuffed into the wall or floor opening. In reality, a firestop is a system that includes the fire- rated wall or floor, the opening, the cable or conduit that passes through the opening, and the material used to seal the opening.
For that reason, achieving an effective firestop requires taking all of the components present into consideration when selecting the material that is best suited for that application.
No single material works equally well in all applications in institutional and commercial facilities. Advances in the technology behind firestop materials have resulted in systems that perform well over the long-term. With more than 3,000 tested products on the market, selecting the right one calls for an understanding of an application's requirements and the way the various materials function within the system.