Fire protection of the services riser for air conditioner copper pipes with insulation in a new build was proving to be a challenge for the project manager. Concrete had not been poured in the riser floor and the air con contractor was pushing to get their services installed. The discussion revolved around how many copper pipes could be bundled together through a fire stopping penetration in the floor slab. The requirement from the contractor was for three pipes per unit to be kept together.
Fortunately, the project manager had the foresight to seek the advice and guidance of a passive fire protection installer. The installer — being aware of the building code requirement for all fire stops to be tested and that only if it can be demonstrated that there is no available system or solution readily available on the market that complies with AS4072 could an alternative solution or an engineering judgement be proposed — approached us to find out if a tested solution was available.
Tested Fire Stopping Products and Systems
Manufacturers of fire stopping products spend substantial money to have their products tested to AS 1530.4. Fire test reports are issued by the testing authorities (laboratories) to confirm the fire resistance rating achieved in the test. The building code requires that "Fire stops and methods of installation shall be identical to those of the prototype used in tests to establish the FRR." Herein lays a conundrum.
The passive fire installer is charged with not only finding a tested product or system to install, but is also expected to install these in an identical manner to the way the prototype was tested.
The availability of relevant test reports from the manufacturers can be a contributing factor in the decision on the product or system to be installed. Some manufacturers emphasise the installation methodology based on assessments of test reports tested to standards other than AS1530.4, as opposed to publishing the actual test report.
"If the product is tested to AS1530.4 we cannot not accept it as being compliant if installed in terms of the manufacturer's installation methodology"
We were able to produce a test report with installation methodology that would be feasible to install in the floor slab void on site. Sacrificial form work would need to be placed in position when the concrete was poured. Once the concrete has cured, the form work would be removed and the FireClamp would be inserted – either before or after the insulated pipes have been installed.
Begin With the End In Mind
If more project managers engage with passive fire specialists and the trades early in the process with a view to getting fire stopping right the first time, tested products and systems would be the first choice and consequently compliance with the building code would be a formality.