The New Stamford Hospital – A Case Study in the Implementation of the Newly Required Destructive Firestopping Special Inspections

Christopher Lynch – Principal, Code Red Consultants
Michael A. Smeriglio, MBA, FABC – Executive Director Facilities Management, Stamford Hospital
Stanley Hunter – SVP Colliers International, Development & Consulting Services; formerly Project Director, Stamford Hospital Master Facility Plan

Far too many healthcare facilities have experienced firestopping issues after opening new construction areas during post occupancy regulatory inspections. Stamford Hospital had a goal to avoid this issue when constructing their new 12-story, 650,000 SF hospital that opened its doors in September of 2016. They elected to implement firestopping special inspections on the project utilizing ASTM E2174 and ASTM E2393 to ensure that they were getting what they paid for – listed and approved compliant firestopping assemblies.

While Stamford elected to implement these standards on the project, they are now specifically required for all new construction projects by the building code in healthcare occupancies in all New England states except New Hampshire. The goal of this presentation is to help owners, facility managers, contractors, and designers become aware of this new inspection process and the potential significant implications it has on cost and schedule. Lessons learned and specific best practices will be identified that attendees can implement on their next project.

ASTM 2174 and ASTM 2393 prescribe a new level of inspection not typically experienced in the construction industry. The inspection process outlined in the standards involves destructively inspecting or witnessing the installation of a percentage of the firestop assemblies. The inspectors are required to compare the installed firestopping to listed firestop assemblies or approved engineering judgments that the contractor has submitted on the project. The comparison to a listed assembly dissects all aspects of the firestop assembly to ensure it is consistent with the listing. This includes the wall or floor type, the details of the penetrating item(s), the firestop material utilized, and the amount of annular space. The inspection process has uncovered that a vast majority of firestop installations are not being performed to a listed assembly. Most installers were simply applying the same firestopping product at an unspecified thickness around all openings and penetrations.

The challenges experienced on the Stamford Hospital project in implementing this process, while not uncommon, were still painful – several trades were not aware of the difference between a firestopping product and a firestopping assembly, submittals did not match actual installation details, engineering judgments were not obtained proactively, and coordination between trades that contributed to a single firestop assembly were not occurring. As construction evolved, Stamford Hospital worked in collaboration with the fire stop inspector and the construction manager to create and implement enhanced quality control procedures on site to improve knowledge and performance. The result was a project that was ultimately completed on schedule and firestopping installation that has passed inspections by the City of Stamford, CT Department of Public Health and Safety, and the Joint Commission without any citations relating to quality of firestopping installed. Also, the firestopping installations are well documented for future inspections and reference long past the tenure of the project personnel.

This case study will be presented from multiple perspectives. Christopher Lynch of Code Red Consultants will speak from the inspector’s point of view and will provide an overview of the firestopping requirements contained in the building code, outline what an approved firestopping assembly actually is, and the process for special inspection outlined in the ASTM standards. Michael Smeriglio and Stan Hunter will speak from the owner’s perspective on administration and management process to successfully integrate this role in the construction process. The presenters have collaborated to provide a detailed and specific list of best practices and actions that were derived out of their experience to share with the audience.

Download Presentation