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Owners Beware: Building Modifications Can Void a Component’s Fire Rating

Renovations and modifications like drilling in walls and adding new electrical systems can disrupt carefully engineered fire protection materials and systems. While property owners and managers do this to add value and functionality to a structure, some of these alterations can compromise the fire resistance of fire-rated assemblies.

Fire-proof walls, doors, windows, and ceilings are assigned specific fire ratings after tests and certification processes. During the tests, the components are exposed to controlled fire conditions to assess how they behave when there is a fire.

Fire-rated components certified by relevant authorities come with instructions for proper installation, operation, and maintenance. When installing fire-rated components, the structural engineer NJ and builders must strictly follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to preserve the component’s fire resistance and performance. Any additions or changes, like switching the hardware on a fire-rated door, can affect the fire ratings of building assemblies.

Breaching fire-rated ceilings to install fire alarm cables and replacing them with non-rated ceiling tiles can compromise the assembly’s fire rating. This creates inadequate compartmentalization wherein fire and smoke can spread through the roof space.

Removing or altering fire-rated walls can also affect a property’s fire prevention system. Openings and penetrations in fire-rated walls or ceilings without proper repair and sealing can cause fire to spread faster.

Property owners and managers can consult a commercial building engineer NJ to prioritize fire prevention when making any modifications that involve penetrations. Some installations can leave unseen holes in fire separation components like ceilings and walls. Professionals have the knowledge and expertise to plan alterations that do not compromise the fire rating of building components.

Professional engineers can also coordinate with local building and fire safety authorities to execute building modifications that align with the required fire protection standards. They can provide the necessary documentation to demonstrate code compliance.

For more details about how building modifications can compromise a component’s fire rating, check this infographic by Lockatong Engineering.

 

 

 

Smith Marcus

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