January 14, 2019
Re: Abandoned Penetrations through a Firewall
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 220.127.116.11.(2) and 18.104.22.168.(2) of Division B of the 2012 British Columbia Building Code.
22.214.171.124.(2) Openings in a fire separation shall be protected with closures, shafts or other means in conformance with Articles 126.96.36.199. to 188.8.131.52. and Subsections 3.1.9. and 3.2.8. (See Appendix A.)
184.108.40.206.(2) Penetrations of a firewall or a horizontal fire separation that is required to have a fire-resistance rating in conformance with Article 220.127.116.11. 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 18.104.22.168.(2) does not reference other test standards such as those in Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1) for closures. The relaxations for closures in Table 126.96.36.199.(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.
The appellant maintains that the abandoned service penetrations can be considered as openings requiring a closure according to Sentence 188.8.131.52.(2) and Table 184.108.40.206. 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 220.127.116.11.(2), including that of the required prescribed FT rating.
Reason for Decision
- Articles 18.104.22.168. through 22.214.171.124. do not identify a firestop system as a closure.
- Article 126.96.36.199. 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.
Chair, Building Code Appeal Board