Massachusetts New 3rd Party Fire Stopping Inspection Requirements

As of this January the 9th edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code went into effect, and it now requires 3rd party inspection of fire stopping on certain projects.

The change is an addition to Chapter 17: Special Inspections and Tests, which is the chapter of the building code that requires a number of different 3rd party inspections that you’ve probably done on some of your projects already. Some examples include:

Fireproofing (pull test)

Concrete (slump, cylinders/breaks)

Steel (Welds, Shear studs, Metal Decking)

Seismic

Smoke control (special inspection)

All Chapter 17.

So what does it say about Fire Stopping?

You are required to have a 3rd party inspector in two situations:

1) when you build or work in a high rise structure.

What constitutes a high rise structure? In Massachusetts it’s one that measures more than 70 feet in height above grade plane.

2) if you build or perform work in Risk Category 3 or 4. In a nutshell, this includes educational use groups, higher-ed, hospitals, high occupant loads, critical and high hazard occupancies (see table 1604.5 in the 2015 IBC for specifics)

What gets inspected?

Fire-resistant joint systems — we’re talking slab edge, top of wall at flutes, etc.

Penetrations — items such as pipes, ductwork, conduits, etc.

Wondering how many penetrations you need to have inspected? Just remember 10 and 2 or, more accurately, 10% or 2%.

Photo by Laura Gariglio on Unsplash

You can choose to have a 3rd party inspector either witness 10% of each type of penetration or do destructive testing on 2% of each type.

Who’s qualified to act as inspector?

The answer to that is a little less specific. Short of cutting and pasting in the code language, I’ll say a qualified inspector needs to be acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction and the Authorizing Agent (owner’s representative on the project) as well as accreditation and/or the ability to display sufficient experience. It cannot be anyone who installs or manufactures fire stop.

There are a few things you should take into consideration when trying to manage the process. Consider the following options to minimize the number of penetrations being inspected:

Pre-fabbed rings will move the inspection process from destructive to verifying appropriate installation.

Buy out one product such as Hilti, STI, etc.

Use a sole source firestopping contractor.

Set types of penetrations ahead of work (E.g. We are using these “x” types)

Hopefully this information helps. I would love to hear about what you think will work well, if you have any questions or if you’d like to set up training at your company. Leave a comment, DM, or email me at joe@massconstruction.org.

Author: Joe Kelly

Website builder and podcaster for people who dig construction 🔨 🚧

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