Owners Beware: Building Modifications Can Void a Component’s Fire Rating

Building modifications, while often necessary, come with potential risks. Concerning fire safety, alterations can inadvertently compromise the fire rating of compartmentalization components such as walls, doors, and windows.

Fire-rated assemblies are engineered to meet specific fire resistance standards. Their properties prevent the spread of fire and enable safe evacuation of occupants from the building. Any alterations that affect a component’s specifications can undermine its original design and compromise its ability to withstand fire.

For example, painting over a fire-rated door without following proper procedures can impede its proper operation as an emergency exit in case of fire. If the paint is not specifically designed for fire-rated doors, it may weaken the door’s ability to withstand the heat. Applying excessive layers of paint without proper care can also interfere with the seals and hardware designed to enhance the door’s fire resistance. Before undertaking any painting project on a fire-rated door, it is advisable to consult with the door manufacturer or a commercial building engineer NJ to maintain the door’s fire rating.

Additionally, failure to address openings created during modifications or using non-approved fire-stopping materials can compromise the overall integrity of a fire-rated system. The purpose of fire stopping is to seal open penetrations in fire-rated assemblies. Suppose a modification involves inserting cables through fire-rated walls or floors. Without fire-stopping solutions, like fire-resistant seals or wraps, fire can spread easily through the penetrations and compromise adjacent compartments.

It is important to involve qualified professionals in the project planning to prevent modifications that void fire-rated components. A structural engineer NJ can assess the impact of modifications and prescribe solutions that preserve the building’s structural integrity and fire resistance. They can also provide necessary details and documentation to demonstrate code and regulatory compliance.

Read this infographic by Lockatong Engineering to learn more about preventing the compromise of fire-rated components.