Cable Firestopping Installation Guide

By IPVM Team, Published Mar 06, 2019, 09:42am EST

Installing cables through firewalls is a critical installation issue. Failing to properly seal a penetration can cause smoke and fire to spread, which can be deadly in an emergency.

Understanding the parts and methods used to firestop properly can be the difference between spending significant time and money rerouting cables and creating a serious safety issue.

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In this guide we examine:

  • Firestop basics
  • AHJ approvals
  • System vs. single product approach
  • Applicable UL listings
  • Caulk and putty
  • Prefabricated plugs
  • Engineered sleeves
  • Engineered grommets
  • Blocks/sheets for large openings

Firestop ****** *** *******

* ******** ** * barrier **** ** ******** construction ** ******* *** spread ** **** *** smoke *** * ***** period ** **** (*** to ** ******** **** the ******** ** ******* devices **** *** ***** name **** **** ****). Firewalls *** ***** *********** from ******* ******** ********* such ** ******** *****, drywall, ** ******** "**** up" ******. **** *** given * ******** **** rating **** **** *** be ******** ** ******* with **** **** *** flame ****** ***** ***********.

** ****** ************, ********* are ********* ***** *** 2 ** * *****, though ** ****** ******* are ***** ********** ** many *****. **** **** not ***** **** ** a ******** ** * fire ****. ** ** 2015, *** *********** **** Code ******** ***** ***** be ******* ******* **** signage ******** ***** ******, at ***** ***** **', for *******:

***** *** **** ****** is ***** ** ********* fire, *** ****, **** a ***** **** * few ****** ** ******** used *** * ***** sleeve, ***** ******** ** big ****** *** *****, smoke, ** **** **** to ****** ** * facility.

******* ** ****, ************ made *** *****, ********, or ***** ******* *** permitted, *** ***** ************ must ** ******** ****** to **** *****, ****, and ***** **** *********, with * ****** ***** to **** ** ****** the ****** ** *** wall.

Firestopping ** *********

** **** ******, ************ is ******** ** ****. Not **** ** ** a **** ****** *****, but ** ** **** typically *** ***. ******* to ******** ***** ******* rework ** **** ************ after *** ****, **** ceilings *** ***** **** been ******, *********** ********** labor, ** ****** ** fines *** ******* *** installing **********(*) ** ******** liability ** **** ** damage **** ****.

Fire **** ****** ******** ******

********** ****** ** ******** with ***** ********** ** firestopping, **** *************** **** ****, *** ***** ***** specify **** *********** ** required, *** ***** ******** should ** **** ** how **** ****** ** installed. ******* ** ****, it ** ********* ****** to **** ******** **** an *** **** ** attempt ** ********* *** apply ***** ***** ** their *************.

***** **** *** **** looser, ********, ** ****** different *************** ** ***** which *** ****** ** lost **** ** ********* material ****. ************, **** facilities **** ******* "** penetrations *** *** ******" policy **** **** ** followed, **** ** *********** appropriate ********* *****.

*** ***** *********, ********* companies ** **** *********** may **** ******** ******** firestopping solutions **** **** ** used, ** **** **** be ********* ** ******, trained ***********. ** ***** stringent ************ *** ** place, ********** *** *********** bound ** **** ********** of ****, ***** ***********, or **********.

System ********

************ ******** ***** ***** a "******" **** ******* defines *** ***** ** the ***********. ********** **** the **** ** *** hole, ** *** ***** of ********/********** ******* ** cable, ** *** **** cable ** ******* ** sealed ** *****. ********** cannot ****** *** *** match *********, **** **** rated *********, *** **** a ********* ********.

*** ******* ********* *** commonly ********** ** ******** codes ** "********* **********" for ******** ************ *******:

Common *******

**** ******** *** ** firestopped ***** *** ** several *******:

  • *****/*****
  • ******/******
  • *****
  • ********** *******
  • ********** ********

***** ****** ******* **** firestop ************* ********* ***** methods *** *********** *** their ***********, ****** ********* also ******* ** ********* preference, ** **** *** be **** *********** **** different *******.

***** ********* *** ********** in **** *****:

Caulk / *****

************, *** *** **** common ******* ** ************ have **** ***** ***** or *****, ***** *** similar *******.

*****, ******** ** ******** are ******* *********** ****** **** *** ***, then ******* **** * layer ** ***** ******* with * *** (*****):

firestop caulk filling large opening

** ***** ** ****** around ****** ** *** (shown ****):

firestop putty formed to fit

***** ***** ******* *** most ******, **** **** are ***** **** *****. Manufacturer ************ *** *** amount ** **** **** and ********* ** *****/***** layer *** **** ********. However, ********* ***** **** often ****** ***** *** opening *** **** ** "good ******" ** ** gaps *** *******, *** this *** ******* **** in **** ** * fire. ******* ** ****, we ********* ***** ***-********** solutions (*****, *******, *** grommets) ******** ********, ** they ****** *** *********** of **** *****.

************, ***** ** *** re-enterable. ******* *** ******** seal ** *** ****** requires ***** ** ******* the ******* **********. ******* may ** ********, *** users ****** ***** **** their ************, ** **** may *** *** *** not ****** ********* **** time.

***** *** ***** *** priced *********, ***** ~$** for * **** ** either, ***** ** ****** to ***** ******* *******, depending ** ****.

Pre-Formed ******* *****

******* ** ***** ***** or ***** **** **** for **** *****, ************* have ***** ******** ***-****** plugs ** *** ******* sizes ** *******. ***** plugs *** **** ** the ***** ** ******** cables, **** ****** **** the ******* ******. ** cables **** ** ***** later, *** **** *** simply ** ******* *** reinstalled.

firestop conduit plug

******** ***** **** *** ~$30-50 ****, ********* ** size.

Engineered *******

*** ************* **** ******* do *** *****, ***** should ******** ***-********** *******. These ******* ******* ** a ***** ******* ********************* ******** (******** ***** ******* when ******), ********* ********** to *** ******* **** depths. ***** ******* *** also ***** ********, **** to ** ********* **** by **** ** *** additional ****** ** ******.

************, ********** ******* *** re-penetrable, **** ***** ****** pushing *** ****** ******* the ****** **** ********, and ** **-******* ** re-installation ********.

pre-engineered firestop sleeves

********** ******* ***** ** about $***-*** *** * 2" ******, **** ****** for ****** ** ****** models ********** ** $***-***.

Engineered ********

***** ****** ****** *** needed, ** **** ***** are are *******. ***** ******* require **** * ***** hole ***** ** *** the *******, ***** ** snapped ****** *****(*) *** pushed **** *** **** on **** *****. ********** cables *** ** ***** simply ** ******** *** snapping *** ******* ****** the *****(*).

pre-engineered firestop grommets

**** **** ** ****** is ***********, ********* **** than $** ****, *** also ******** *** ******** number ** ******, ********* <4 *****/* *** ******.

Blocks / ******

** ******** ***** ********, such ** ******* *** cable *****, ******* **** as ****** *** ****** are ****.

  • ****** *** ****** * solid ***** ** *********** material ***** *** ** stacked *** ********** ** fit ******* ** ****** openings. *******, **** *** not *********** *** ***-****** openings ** *** ****** of ******* ** *** gap ** ******.
  • ******** ****** *** * pre-fabricated ***** ** ********, generally ***** *****, ***** has *********** ***** ******* to *** ****. **** may ** *** ***** metal ****** ** *** specific ******, **** ** the ***** **** *****.

firestop blocks sheets used on large openings

******** ****** *** ********** inexpensive, ~$*-* ****. *******, pre-fab ****** *** *********, a *** ******* ******* and **, **** ***** varying ** ****.

Training ************

**** **** ******* ******** training *** ** ******** before ******** ******** *** be ********* *** ********* and **********. **** ******** are ********* ******, *** manufacturers *** *** ********* their *********** ** ********* by ********* *****. ******** ranges **** **** ********-*****, to **-**** ******** ********* and ********* * ********* trainer ******* ** ** person, ********* ** *** firestop ************ *** ******* covered.

**** ** ***** ***** training ** ***********, **** ******** ********** installers ** ******* ** properly ***** ********, ** the ************ ** ********** products *** ** ****, with ******** ** **** loss ********.

Comments (8)

So, are you are saying that it isn't okay to remove fire-stopping around other mechanical/plumbing/electrical penetrations to avoid a trip to the truck for a masonry bit?

This is a good and much needed guide. I always ask for photos from the field when the guys are making penetrations, adding to existing etcetera. Some make it to the wall of shame but the work has to be redone. 

I prefer to just use my foot to make my penetrations. If it's tougher material, perhaps a sledge hammer.

All kidding aside, my jokes come from the reality of seeing the work of cable contractors that aren't trained well if at all. Being in attics of apartment buildings where there were fires previously, you can easily see how a small hole can easily allow smoke and flame through. We always notify the owner of issues we find, but still pass our cables through an undamaged area with proper firestop devices. I've used the STI grommets and sleeves with putty.

I did laugh and perhaps took a picture when I saw a big STI 4" sleeve for data cabling, and the brand new putty stick was just set in the cable tray next to the sleeve. I'm not sure how effective that would be. This was at a college campus.

We came across this on a competitor's job. Is this an approved method of fire stopping?

What in the world? That's one I've never seen.

This is a great topic to cover and one that does not receive enough attention. I have seen many abuses including cases where installers have cut out and left unrepaired large (12"x 12") sections of fire-rated walls above ceilings just to make the fishing of cable down the wall easier.

In one particularly egregious case, installers had to run cabling in the attic of a private school that I was working with. Every 50' or so within the attic, there would be a fire separation wall that had to be penetrated. The installers started out by making relatively small holes using a drywall saw, but eventually got lazy and just started kicking holes in the walls with their feet. They got a big surprise when they kicked through one wall and looked down and saw a roomful of students looking up at them. This was a music classroom, and unlike the other classrooms, had a raised ceiling that went all the way up to the roof.

This turned out to be a costly mistake as they now had to not only repair the music room wall that they had damaged, but fix every other wall that they had improperly penetrated and failed to seal in an approved manner.

Somewhere I have pictures I took of the wall kicking situation you described. That’s just even more embarrassing that they extended their practice into an area that it got noticed. 

The issue is that if they had not made the costly mistake that got noticed, no one would know what they had done without later reporting of it or during a fire.

In many cases, unseen areas never get checked so it really relies on the company having good knowledge/training and personal responsibility. With larger companies, it would be dependent on a project manager to be checking for all these situations.

Everytime I see these situations, we report it to the owner and generally show pictures of it.

On a related note, I’m working in an attic today where duct work is disconnected/damaged and cable is everywhere. In attics, we put all cable that can be accessed easily in j-hooks and I make sure cabling is up and out of the way of foot traffic. In this case, all the cable is laying on multiple places on the trussing. There is no place to step without touching a poorly run alarm panel.

the worst is stepping in fire-stop and tracking it all over the nice clean floors in the school

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