Insulators act as the last line of defense through firestopping

The insulation industry is much more than just insulating the walls and ceilings of a building to ensure heat stays in. The industry has evolved to include firestopping and other processes.

Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust Trustee and Vice President of Fire and Life Safety Services at Superior Industrial Insulation Tom Dake II joined AWF Union Podcast to explain the importance and functionality of firestopping materials.

What is firestopping?

Dake explained firestopping and smoke seal in simple terms as putting a barrier where one once existed. This could mean any holes drilled in walls during construction or filling cracks created by age in existing buildings.

He said that firestopping and smoke seal is an important process of construction, as 70 percent of building fire deaths are a result of smoke inhalation.

While firestopping and smoke seal materials don’t actually extinguish fire, they act as a last line of defense in emergencies, buying inhabitants more time to escape. He said the process of protecting people from fires and the byproducts of fires goes well beyond installing a sprinkler system.

Inspecting firestopping systems

Dake said firestopping systems need to be inspected, so they don’t fail when needed the most. He added that each jurisdiction has its own set of inspection requirements.

The process for inspection is more thorough in new construction, where inspectors are constantly in and out of the structure. This is different from existing buildings, where inspection falls on the building owner in many jurisdictions.

Dake added that the inspection process and requirements are becoming better as time passes, there is still work to be done.

Infectious disease

Similar to firestopping, infectious disease prevention is crucial in medical facilities, where secondary infections are common.

He said infectious disease control is becoming increasingly important, especially as the world is dealing with COVID-19. More building owners are investing in infectious disease control, as it is able to be done at any point in a buildings life cycle.


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