BCAB #1820

January 14, 2019

Re: Abandoned Penetrations through a Firewall

Project Description

The project is a 3 storey wood frame apartment building containing a Group C major occupancy. The building is divided by a firewall and neither building on either side of the firewall is sprinklered. Electrical service cables have been rerouted, leaving the abandoned service penetrations through the firewall to be repaired. The firewall is of gypsum construction comprised of two 1” thick gypsum panels based on ULC W311-B. The proposed repair of the openings left by the abandoned cable penetrations is to close the openings with a fire stop system.

Applicable Code Requirements

Sentences 3.1.8.1.(2) and 3.1.9.1.(2) of Division B of the 2012 British Columbia Building Code.

3.1.8.1.(2)   Openings in a fire separation shall be protected with closures, shafts or other means in conformance with Articles 3.1.8.4. to 3.1.8.17. and Subsections 3.1.9. and 3.2.8. (See Appendix A.)

3.1.9.1.(2)   Penetrations of a firewall or a horizontal fire separation that is required to have a fire-resistance rating in conformance with Article 3.2.1.2. shall be sealed at the penetration by a fire stop that when subject to the fire test method in CAN/ULC-S115, “Fire Tests of Firestop Systems” has an FT rating not less than the fire-resistance rating for the fire separation.

Decision being Appealed (Local Authority’s Position)

The local authority has determined that penetrations of a firewall shall be sealed by a fire stop system that has an FT rating not less than that of the firewall when tested to CAN/ULC-S115, “Fire Tests of Firestop Systems”. Sentence 3.1.9.1.(2) does not reference other test standards such as those in Sentence 3.1.8.4.(1) for closures. The relaxations for closures in Table 3.1.8.1.(2) does not appear to extend to firewall penetrations, where a fire stop system is required to have an FT rating. The requirement for an FT rating is still applicable for the repair of an abandoned service penetration where there is no penetrant. The listed fire stop with only a 2 h FH rating proposed is not an acceptable solution, but may be considered following a formal approach of an alternative solution.

Appellant's Position

The appellant maintains that the abandoned service penetrations can be considered as openings requiring a closure according to Sentence 3.1.8.1.(2) and Table 3.1.8.4. The CAN4-S104, “Fire Tests of Door Assemblies” test for closures has been compared to the CAN/ULC-S115, “Fire Tests of Firestop Systems” test for fire stops and the CAN/ULC-S101, “Fire Endurance Tests of Building Construction and Materials” test for fire separations, and the appellant considered the fire exposure and hose stream tests to be identical, and that a listed fire stop with an FH rating can be considered for a wall assembly of the same rating. A listed fire stop with a 2 h FH rating, which exceeds the requirement for a closure in a fire separation, is proposed as an acceptable solution, and follows the recommendations in the National Research Council “Best Practice Guide on Fire Stops and Fire Blocks and Their Impact on Sound Transmission”.

Appeal Board Decision # 1820

It is the determination of the Board that if a firestop system is used to close the openings left by the abandoned penetrations in a firewall, the firestop system must comply with the requirements of Sentence 3.1.9.1.(2), including that of the required prescribed FT rating.

Reason for Decision

  • Articles 3.1.8.4. through 3.1.8.17. do not identify a firestop system as a closure.
  • Article 3.1.8.4. does not acknowledge CAN/ULC S115 as a test to determine the fire protection rating of a closure.
  • Subsection 3.1.9. specifically relates to Fire Stops and their prescribed requirements.

Lyle Kuhnert

Chair, Building Code Appeal Board