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Field Review: Elective Firestop Certification Means High Safety Standards

Firestopping limits and contains the hazardous spread and damaging effects of fire. To date, DPR’s Bay Area SPW interiors group is the only UL Qualified Firestop Contractor in California. (Photo by Jorge Valverde)

Currently only contractor in California with firestop certification from the Underwriters Laboratories, DPR’s self-perform interiors group helps give owners peace of mind with added protection

Firestopping—a form of passive fire protection that limits and contains the hazardous spread and damaging effects of fire—protects both lives and financial investments. It works by keeping smoke and flames in compartmentalized areas so fire does not spread quickly. Understanding owners’ concerns and the need to protect a building over its lifetime, DPR’s Bay Area self-perform work (SPW) interiors group underwent the elective process of achieving official firestop certification.

GOING THE EXTRA STEP

The Bay Area SPW interiors group attained certification earlier this year from the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which is the industry leader in fire safety testing, certification and research. Certification in the UL Qualified Firestop Contractor Program ensures that firestop systems are installed to the high standards of UL. A relatively rare distinction in the industry, DPR is currently the only contractor in California with this certification, which was the result of a rigorous, multi-step process that began more than two years ago and was led by DPR’s Nick Sarro.
“To be effective, contractors need to install firestop systems correctly, and UL certification helps assure that these systems are installed effectively every time,” said Sarro.

CAREFUL MEASUREMENT

As part of the process, UL audited one of DPR’s large-scale Bay Area hospital jobsites, which is just one of 20 projects in which DPR took on the firestop scope. UL certification also required an extensive exam, as well as the creation of an in-house quality-management documentation system, which UL also audited. To maintain the certification, UL will continue to audit DPR annually.

WHEN AND HOW

Firestopping occurs prior to two critical path activities on a job: in-wall and above-ceiling closing. Typically, the firestop scope on a project entails the following:

  • Select a UL-tested firestop system to use.
  • Obtain system approval from the architect and/or governing body.
  • Install the system (this is self-performed by DPR’s interiors group).
  • Perform quality control.
  • Have the inspector of record inspect the system.

Said Sarro, “By self-performing the firestop scope, it gives us more control in quality and schedule over the entire process. We can be sure that the critical path dates are met, which keeps the rest of the project on schedule. Taking on this scope also makes it smoother for inspectors, since there is just one point of contact for multiple scopes and this helps with coordination.”