The requirement for special inspections of firestop systems is still relatively new to most jurisdictions (First adopted in the 2012 International Building Code) and like most new requirements, there is learning curve with the requirements. One of the most common misconceptions we have run in to is that the extent of the inspection process per ASTM 2174 and ASTM 2393 is limited to a 2% destructive or 10% witness inspection. What most people are missing is the requirement in Section 10.8 of both aforementioned ASTM standards which states “The inspector shall verify and document that the firestop systems required in the inspection documents have been installed.” The first step in any firestop inspection for a given area should be to verify that the firestopping is installed in all locations that are required by code and that match the project design drawings and specifications (referred to as inspection documents within the ASTM standards).
This single sentence adds a substantial amount of hours that the inspector should be on site to confirm all firestop systems are installed. For example, a typical plumbing pipe penetration through a gypsum shaftwall is a two part inspection, as the inspector would need to confirm firestopping is applied where the pipe penetrates the shaft liner layer prior to the installation of the finish drywall and then come out again to confirm the firestopping installation at the finish side. Similarly, all through floor penetrations which will be enclosed in wall construction will need to be visually reviewed prior to the installation of drywall. To meet this requirement, the inspector will need to be making regular visits to the project throughout construction. Once items are enclosed in wall construction and removed from view, going back to meet this obligation would be a disruptive and costly endeavor.
There is no doubt that the 2 % destructive or 10% witness inspection is the most challenging aspect of the inspection process for most installers but this requirement to confirm all firestopping is installed is equally as important to ensure that there are no unprotected penetrations or joints in the building.
If you have questions regarding firestop special inspections or are in need of an inspector, please do not hesitate to contact us. Code Red Consultants is an active member of the International Firestop Council and currently has seven certified special inspectors on staff.