Fire Protection Solutions
Ensure protection from the life-threatening and property-damaging effects of fire and smoke.
While the number of structure fires recorded in the US has been on a relatively steady decline for the past several decades, the importance of fire protection continues to rise. A single fire that results in loss of life or damage to property is still one fire too many.
From the design phase through the completion of your building project and even in the event of a system failure, Intertek can help you mitigate your risk and provide solutions to existing and potential fire protection, life safety, and unique fire hazard problems.
Code compliance is essential to a proper architectural design. Intertek can assist with pre-design site evaluation, design decisions, Basis of Design (BOD) documents, Owner's Project Requirements (OPR), plan & specification review, and construction administration. We can also assist with general inspections during construction, final inspections/acceptance testing, and Fire Protection Commissioning (FCx).
Intertek is resourced to provide counsel for alternative materials and methods of construction. Although not all conditions can be addressed, Intertek has successfully researched and issued Engineering Judgments (EJ). EJs include a wide variety of construction conditions. Ideally, Intertek can evaluate a product or system before construction. Often, we are called upon to issue an engineering opinion for the as-built condition to help assure a suitable level of safety and alternative code compliance.
Intertek has experience with addressing unique fire protection and safety challenges including, but not limited to, the challenges of modular construction methods, petroleum transfer facilities, lithium-ion battery production, lithium-ion battery conditioning systems, smoke control in an indoor stadium, stair pressurization, elevator hoistway smoke management, and other hazards.
Design For Code Compliance
A comprehensive set of Code Data Sheets and a highly detailed Life Safety Plan are essential to the success of your building enclosure project. They are the roadmap to code compliance and a strong guide for Contractors and Sub-Contractors to construct the building right – the first time. Intertek’s staff of fire safety and protection engineers and technicians can assist in the development or review of these documents to assure code-compliance, accuracy, and an appropriate level of detail.
Whereas a design team has weeks or months or more to develop a series of drawings leading to Construction Documents (CD), local buildings’ plan reviewers have a matter of hours or days to review the CDs to their satisfaction. Clarity of general floor plans and detail sheets is essential to convey code compliance and constructability. Intertek can assist with the development of Submission-phase documents, Construction Documents, Specifications, review of individual products or systems for code compliance. We can also review the same that are developed by others.
Field Inspections & Fire Protection Testing
Whether your building utilizes water-based fire suppression systems, fire alarms and fire detection systems, or a combination of both, our team of experts can conduct the appropriate fire protection testing and inspections to ensure your systems are functioning as required by code and will keep your building occupants safe. If an all-in-one solution is needed, Intertek can assist in the inspection of other building components such as fire-rated floors and walls, for compliance with the Construction Documents and codes.
Intertek has the personnel and equipment to test water supply systems in accordance with appropriate NFPA Standards including NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Water Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants. Intertek can also perform acceptance tests of commercial kitchen hood & duct exhaust systems and associated fixed fire suppression system (“wet chemical” system).
Chapter 17, Special Inspections and Tests, of the International Building Code (IBC) mandates third-party testing and inspections on behalf of the building owner. Intertek has been recognized nationwide as a special inspection agency.
The systems required by Chapter 17 to be witnessed by a third-party independent inspector include several systems related to fire protection. These elements are as follows:
- Sprayed fire-resistant materials (SFRM)
- Mastic and intumescent fire-resistant coatings (IFRM or TFIFRM)
- Fire-resistant penetrations and joints for certain qualifying buildings
This would include through-penetration firestop systems (TPFS), membrane penetrations, and perimeter joint systems (“edge-of-slab”)
- Smoke control systems
This would include, but may not be limited to, atrium smoke control systems, certain large indoor stadiums and arenas, exit stair pressurization systems in high-rise buildings, and elevator hoistway pressurization systems
Today, Property Condition Assessments (PCA) are often integral to commercial real estate transactions. Intertek can provide basic Fire Protection Condition Assessments (FPCA) as part of PCA services. Other clients require a more extensive and intensive inspection of a building’s fire protection systems. Intertek can provide an Enhanced FPCA where our experts perform an even more comprehensive inspection of a building’s fire safety solutions. These typically include fire department access, exposures, local fire hydrant location, visual examination of automatic fire suppression systems (fire sprinklers, fire pumps, emergency power, standpipes, etc.), visual condition and extent of a building fire alarm system, special hazards, and visible protection of penetrations in fire-rated systems. In hotels, we also evaluate room fire door operation and the presence of local smoke detectors. Egress system evaluation can be added as an additional service.
Engineering Consulting & Commissioning Services
It is sometimes said, “Building Codes are not written in black and white; they are written in shades of grey.”
Modern building codes are comprehensive, but they are also subject to interpretation and application. Intertek will assist in professional consultations to properly apply local building code provisions and act as your advocate.
With the complex provisions of building codes, fire safety codes, and the Life Safety Code® (NFPA 101), ensuring your design is compliant can be a daunting task. We can also assist the design team and contractors where the inevitable changes or complex field conditions have occurred on the jobsite. With almost 40 years of experience, Intertek’s fire protection personnel can partner with your team to conduct an engineering study of the project, evaluate architectural designs, identify and attempt to rectify unusual field conditions. The findings are often documented in one or more Engineering Judgments.
There has been – rightfully so – a recent emphasis on the fire performance of building façades. The standards of care in North America are NFPA 285 and CAN/ULC-S134. These laboratory fire tests are assembly-based, not necessarily a fire test of individual products. When there is effectively any change between the base exterior wall system tested in the laboratory and the proposed design or actual field installation, engineering analyses must be considered. This is the expectation of many code officials. Intertek can often author an Engineering Judgment (EJ) to address changes to your façade that still show consistency with NFPA 285 and CAN/ULC-S134.
How can one be assured of fire protection system performance? Although the local fire marshal may do a reasonable inspection, they are not doing the “deep dive” to assure that the systems were installed in a better-than-workmanlike manner for quality and reliability. Intertek offers Fire Protection Commissioning (FCx) services to satisfy this need. Our capable staff can visually inspect systems during installation and perform (witness) field tests to demonstrate complete system performance. Proper paperwork is issued to document our findings and recommendations. Our objective is compliance with design documents and specifications, OPR, and national fire protection standards (typically issued by the NFPA and/or FM Global [FM]).
Health Care Facilities – Life Safety and Fire Protection
With the aging of America, the need for adequate and fire-safe health care facilities is greater than ever. The fire protection and life safety of health care occupancies is rather unique in that instead of exiting the facility; one must rely on a “defend in-place” life safety policy. As it says, with “defend in-place” strategies, the one of the immediate actions (R.A.C.E. – “Remove, Alarm, Confine, and Extinguish or Evacuate”) by staff is to isolate the fire to the room of origin and, when possible, relocate patients in the area of fire origin to an adjacent smoke zone. Fire and smoke compartmentation is of critical importance.
The fire safety of these buildings is highly regulated in large part by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) (part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services). Besides the fundamental need for fire and general patient safety and quality, CMS is the major source of funding for most hospitals.
Accreditation by a third-party (such as The Joint Commission (TJC) is evidence that a facility meets or exceeds applicable CMS standards. Intertek can assist healthcare facility owners and their design team and contractors in meeting TJC criteria documents in The Statement of Conditions (SOC). Documentation of the condition of the building through the SOC is the primary path to obtaining or maintaining TJC Accreditation.
Intertek personnel have decades of experience performing TJC pre-inspections in preparation for Accreditation inspections by TJC surveyors. It is said that if one can pass a vigorous third-party pre-inspection and/or “mock surveys,” the probability that one will pass the TJC surveyor inspection is high.
Intertek’s health care/SOC inspections can be as complex as one needs. A comprehensive Life Safety Plan (LSP) Review is essential. A visual, below-ceiling inspection is helpful to discover issues with fire doors, smoke doors, storage practices, egress issues, and some documentation/paperwork.
Fire doors are of special concern. Again, fire and smoke compartmentation are a top priority in health care occupancies to provide horizontal egress. Being used on virtually a daily basis, fire doors are subject to use and abuse. NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, mandates at least annual inspection of fire doors and smoke doors by qualified personnel. Intertek is uniquely positioned with teams of fire door inspectors throughout the United States. In addition to providing inspection services, Intertek can label/re-label most fire doors and smoke doors! This service is relegated, by NFPA 80, to qualified fire testing laboratories – of course, Intertek fits that bill!
We always recommend an above-ceiling visual inspection. Intertek will follow the Life Safety Plan (LSP) to assure continuity of fire barriers, smoke barrier walls, and smoke partitions. Where systems are interrupted, we will investigate the possibility of new routings of the walls. An extremely important part of the above-ceiling inspection is the condition of penetrations. Missing or impaired through-penetration firestops (TPFS) is a major source of Findings during a TJC survey. Intertek provides a hand markup or electronic record of where we find penetrations and their source (i.e., electrical conduit, pipes, communication/IT cable, etc.). This record will assist in creating accurate and detailed Work orders.
Intertek does not just perform the SOC documentation and preparation for a TJC Survey. Intertek personnel have discreetly attended the TLC Survey in order to immediately answer questions from the Surveyors and the way in which the Facility complies with the TJC Accreditation standards. Intertek insists that, if permitted to attend, our presence is meant to be a positive, helpful, insightful, and success-based interaction and in no way adversarial or intrusive.
Related Codes and Standards
- All relevant fire testing, product specifications, and fire inspection standards
International Code Council (ICC):
- International Building Code® (IBC)
- International Fire Code® (IFC)
- International Existing Building Code® (IEBC)
- International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® (IWUIC)
- Various State, Commonwealth, and Local Building Codes based on the IBC
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
Primary Standards, Including the Following:
- NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code®
- NFPA 1, Fire Code
- NFPA 3, Standard for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems
- NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing
- NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems
- Other water-based system standards – NFPA 13D, 13R, 14, 15, 16, etc.
- NFPA 17A, Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems
- NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection
- NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection
- NFPA 24, Standard for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Their Appurtenances
- NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
- NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code
- NFPA 45, Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals
- NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®
- NFPA 75, Standard for the Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment (“Data Centers”)
- NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives
- NFPA 92, Standard for Smoke Control Systems
- NFPA 92A, Standard for Smoke-Control Systems Utilizing Barriers and Pressure Differences
- NFPA 92B, Standard for Smoke Management Systems in Malls, Atria, and Large Spaces
- NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations
- NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code
- NFPA 415, Standard on Airport Terminal Buildings, Fueling Ramp Drainage, and Loading Walkways
- NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems
U.S. General Services Administration (GSA):
- PBS-P100, Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service
Department of Defense:
- UFC 3-600-01, Fire Protection Engineering for Facilities
- UFC 3-601-02, Fire Protection Systems Inspection, Testing, And Maintenance
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
- 29 CFR 1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards
- 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
- Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)
- U.S. HUD Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines