Spotlight on Beating the Clock

By Douglas S. Erickson, FASHE, CHFM and James P. Stahl Jr., CFPS, CDT

Effective August 1, 2016, The Joint Commission changed the Statement of Conditions® (SOC) process related to Life Safety (LS) requirements. Previously, deficiencies discovered during mock surveys or scheduled inspections could be added to a Plan for Improvement (PFI) and corrected in an organized approach . With the new SOC requirements, this is no longer the case, as the new SOC process requires any LS deficiency to be addressed by corrective action within 60 days of it being cited on a TJC or CMS survey.

According to presentations by TJC, one of the top 20 most commonly cited deficiencies relates to unsealed or improperly sealed “fire barrier penetrations” (LS.02.01.10, EP9). With the massive amount of data and communication cabling being installed to support ever-growing technology needs of a modern healthcare facility, low voltage cable penetrations are one of the most single common culprits in mez-path-complete-solution1aintaining barriers. To accommodate new technologies, openings in barriers are created to run new services or new cable is added to existing sleeves or pass-through devices. As we all know, cable penetrations are being made daily and are typically not sealed in accordance with UL requirements. A recent study performed by Global Fire Protection, a third-party inspection firm with extensive inspection experience within healthcare organizations, confirmed that frequently these conditions are found unsealed when standard sleeves or non-self-sealing pass-through devices are used. They went on to confirm that their study indicated that self-sealing devices such as EZ-Path remain compliant because no further intervention is required after installation.

To eliminate getting cited, self-sealing fire-rated pathways, such as STI’s EZ-Path® Fire Rated Pathway, are the logical solution. They are maintenance-free, since they do not require an action to activate the sealing function, and that means they are always sealed for fire and smoke 100% of the time. With the changes enacted by CMS and TJC as it relates to the SOC, healthcare organizations should be taking a proactive approach on how penetrations through smoke and fire barriers are being addressed. Selecting the wrong type of system that requires a manual manipulation of the device and thereby leaves the pass-through device non-compliant can trigger maintenance projects that have to be addressed in a much more immediate fashion then in the past.

An Evaluation Report recently issued by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the global leader in testing and certification of fire protection products and systems, confirmed that EZ-Path® Fire Rated Pathways are maintenance-free and proven to comply with all the requirements imposed by the NFPA 101, “Life Safety Code” (LSC) as they relate to firestopping and smoke sealing in fire and smoke barrier construction. Thus, a healthcare organization that standardizes with products like EZ-Path will avoid the possibility of fire and smoke barrier deficiencies and the running clock forcing them to perform corrective action within 60 days.

Doug is STI’s Senior Advisor for Healthcare. James is STI’s Vice President of Engineering. Specified Technologies Inc. is the leading manufacturer of firestopping products and systems for the built environment. Visit to learn more about these and other exciting STI products.

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Spotlight on membrane penetrations

A couple of weeks ago, I received the following email…

“Please review the inspectors deficiency report and provide us an Engineering Judgment similar to what you sent me just for a 1″ insulated copper pipe, but it penetrates only one side of partition and then turns down inside partition wall.”

I immediately replied back with a link to STI Firestop’s UL System W-L-5327. A couple of minutes later, I followed up with a phone call and was greeted with insulated-pipe“How did you get that back from your engineering department so fast?”

I explained that, “what I sent was NOT an engineering judgement, but was in fact a tested, listed UL System for an insulated cooper pipe membrane penetration… we knew you guys would need it eventually, so we had it ready… in fact, we are the only manufacturer (as of the writing of this article) with an insulated pipe membrane system.”

In fact, UL has just published 9 new STI Firestop W-L membrane systems that include metallic pipe both insulated and uninsulated as well as combustible piping, cable bundles, steel supports, duct work and a wood stud/truss type penetration.

So, why after all this time are we testing membrane penetrations?

Being a student of the industry, I called up Jonathan Mathews, STI Firestop’s Fire Protection Engineering Manager to get some clarification. He had this to say, “Historically, membrane penetrations of vertical wall assemblies were treated as one-half of a through penetration firestop system. Some model codes even included verbiage to this effect. Recently, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced that their requirement would be for membrane penetrations in vertical wall assemblies to be specifically tested and listed.”

“They cited the fact that when the membrane penetration firestop system was tested for fire exposure to each side, they had concerns about whether the configuration where the gypsum board was intact on the backside of the membrane penetration would behave in the same way. While perhaps not a concern for noncombustible penetrants such as metallic pipe or conduit, it could be a concern for plastic piping. Accordingly, this has necessitated specific testing and listing of membrane penetration firestop systems.”

Jonathan went on to tell me that not only are we the only manufacturer with an insulated pipe membrane system, but we are the only manufacturer with a steel duct, 4″ plastic pipe and wood stud/truss membrane penetrations. Not to mention that the other systems we have listed have some serious competitive advantages over the competitors.

What do you know, STI Firestop, once again, has some serious competitive advantages over the competition.


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Spotlight on sealing your ceiling

Well we’ve done it again!

Check out our new NEZ33CK EZ-Path® Smoke and Acoustical Pathway with Ceiling Kit. This very cool, patented design, protects sensitive cables while allowing them to penetrate non-rated ceilings, providing a smoke and environmental seal that regulates air flow and reduces wasted energy.

The kit features a built in smoke sealing system that automatically adjusts to the amount of cables installed… this means that you can easily add or remove cables without the need to remove or reinstall caulking materials, which equals no mess plus Ceiling.jpgthe added benefit of no missed seals.

BONUS… its rated for use in plenum spaces, making it ideally suited for telecommunication rooms, data closets and server rooms to help isolate conditioned air, or segregate cables by use, type or vendor. It can be used in any cable management application requiring a smoke and environmental seal or where a professional fit and finish is preferred.

Designed to complement the maintenance free EZ-Path® Fire-Rated and Non-Rated Family of Solutions, the NEZ33CK works in tandem with its counterparts to promote best practices by providing a fully sustainable cable management system for your entire network. Together, they allow you to remotely pull cables through multiple barriers at once, reducing unnecessary trips above the drop ceiling or into concealed spaces.

For more information visit

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Spotlight on healthcare facilities

Firestop is typically installed in areas that you do not want to disrupt if you don’t have to, especially in healthcare facilities.

I was recently at a healthcare “summit” where there were different panels for discussion regarding healthcare facility concerns. There were a couple of quotes from a well know facility director that resonated with me. I have put these quotes below in bold with a little description about how we can alleviate those concerns. I thought that it was pretty cool that two of the biggest concerns for one of the largest healthcare facilities directors could be solved with one single phone call to STI Firestop… 1-800-992-1180… call us!

Quote #1: “If we can’t access the equipment, we can’t maintain it.”

STI is pleased to announce that an Evaluation Service Report (ESR) was recently issued by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for our EZ-Path® Fire-Rated Pathways confirming code compliance with the International Building Code® (IBC), International Fire Code® (IFC), and NFPA 101, “Life Safety Code®” (LSC).

This ESR confirms compliance with all referenced firestopping requirements in the IBC, IFC, and LSC. Additionally, the ESR evaluates the use of EZ-Path® in smoke barriers and smoke partitions and provides confirmation that the products fully comply with applicable code requirements relating to smoke leakage. Finally, the ESR evaluates the maintenance-free nature of EZ-Path® and provides written confirmation of it.proven-esr-header

No other firestop product can make this claim. Because EZ-Path® is the only maintenance-free solution on the market, we suggest that contractors or building owners consider the total cost of ownership of any firestop device over the life of the building before making a purchasing decision.

Why use anything else?

Quote #2: “What’s behind your walls is as important as what’s in front of them.”

Additionally, STI’s Barrier Management Program (BMP)provides operational practices and training that help restore integrity in existing buildings and insure continuous integrity in new facilities. More than a plan for improvement, a barrier management program allows facilities to proactively take control of barriers, insuring on-going barrier integrity and reducing Joint Commission violations.

Every minute of everyday your barrier management records are accurate and up to date with STI’s eBMP program and the information is easily accessible. From job status and system information, to who the installer was, eBMP allows for an unlimited number of user defined queries to generate and print various reports for compliance.

What’s behind your walls?

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Spotlight on professional firestop installers

STI FSCPlumbers, HVAC contractors, sprinkler contractors, electricians, fire alarm installers, cable installers… What do they all have in common?

In the course of their work, they will probably penetrate fire or smoke rated barriers. In virtually all cases, either the law or union requirements may mandate that they are recognized in some official fashion as the installer responsible for the area of work that they address. Thus they are typically well trained and highly focused.

Such is not the case when it comes to firestopping. No law or legally recognized union requirement ties firestopping to a particular trade. Thus it becomes a virtual free for all. Some trades consider firestopping to be beneath them. Most if required to self-perform simply take the lowest ranking helper, hand him or her a caulk gun and say “Go squirt this in the holes!”

Many times out of ignorance, the wrong products are chosen. A hardening caulk may be installed around low voltage cables that will almost certainly require subsequent changes… a water sensitive product may be installed in areas of high humidity… A joint sealant may be incorrectly installed in a through penetration system… we could go on and on with potential problems.

So, what is the solution?

STI Firestop products/systems + a professional specialty firestop contractor = PIECE/PEACE of mind.

1. A professional firestop installer will allow you to focus on what you do best (PLUMBING, ELECTRIC, MECHANICAL, SPRINKLERS, CURTAIN WALL, ETC.):
2. A professional firestop installer will generally have a better understanding of tested firestop systems;
3. A professional firestop installer will help to ensure one-source continuity and system compatibility for all firestop applications;
4. A professional firestop installer promotes hassle-free inspection by officials who know and trust professional firestop installers;
5. A professional firestop installer provides single contractor accountability for all firestop applications;
6. A professional firestop installer documents all installed firestops, depending on the agreed-to scope of work;
7. A professional firestop installer increases confidence that all firestopping is completed correctly… the first time… no come-backs.

For the past 25 years, Specified Technologies Inc. has worked closely with the construction industry to create simple solutions to complex firestopping problems. STI has been at the forefront of developing the most advanced and cost effective firestop solutions on the market, offering premium quality, superior performance, and best in class service, training and support. STI offers a comprehensive range of product categories designed to address almost any application and backs them with over 1,300 UL® Certified systems – more than any firestop company in the world.

STI is committed to supporting our customers by providing sustainable firestop solutions, management programs for firestop, treating them like partners, and by consistently adding value beyond the sale. You can depend on STI to deliver knowledgeable advice, premium quality products, and the total firestop solution.

STI Firestop has worked with and trained many quality, credible and professional Specialty Firestop Contractors over the past 26 years… Email me today for a recommendation based on your project or scope of work, we can help!

John Zalepka

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Spotlight on Access STI


STI is excited to announce the launch of Access STI.

This integrated web service will give registered users DIRECT ACCESS to STI Firestop information & services all in one place, at the click of a button.

As a registered user, this means one login for all of your job submittals and engineering judgements (EJ’S). You will also be able to upload documents, plans, specs, pictures, etc straight to our Technical Resources Assistance Manager (TRAM), again giving you DIRECT ACCESS to our web-based technical service system & our technical team with over 250 years experience… simply, easily starting the engineering process.

Please try it out for yourself…

… or just message me for a demo andAAEAAQAAAAAAAAhlAAAAJDIxNDFhY2RiLWFhMTEtNGE0Yi04MjU2LWFmZmRkYmJlYWYyZA to be entered for a chance to win a YETI cooler.

Stay cool!

John Zalepka

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They say change is inevitable…

…especially when it comes to technology upgrades & equipment enhancements to your network. Continuous cable changes can turn your fire & smoke barriers into Swiss cheese, and running cables through traditional firestop sleeves is not easy.

EZ path applications

So, what is easy? EZ-Path!

EZ-Path is the only firestop device where you can pull cables through multiple fire-rate barriers at the same time.

Check out this short video to see how STI changed the game again… EZ-Path.

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Spotlight on profits

Head-of-Wall-TTGDoes caulking construction joints suck profits from your bottom line? 

Have you ever said to yourself… there has simply got to be a better way?

TTG is a patented thin profile intumescent cover for gypsum wall framing for tracks, runners and studs that is designed to provide fire, smoke and acoustical ratings for head of wall joints, wall to wall joints and bottom of wall joints between gypsum walls and concrete.
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Spotlight on Maintenance Free

slider_img1STI is pleased to announce that an Evaluation Service Report (ESR) was recently issued by UL for our EZ-Path® Fire-Rated Pathways confirming code compliance with the International Building Code® (IBC), International Fire Code® (IFC), and NFPA 101, “Life Safety Code®” (LSC). The report goes on to confirm that, when properly installed, the device does not require regular maintenance… here is a copy of that report R14579-20160520-Report-Evaluation.

EZ-Path® Rated Pathways are exempt from ongoing maintenance requirements. Because EZ-Path® has no moving parts and requires no action to activate the internal sealing mechanism, it is compliant right out of the box. By contrast, competing devices and traditional sleeves do require ongoing maintenance.

Other than on price, our competitor has been unable to compete against EZ-Path with any meaningful features or benefits, so they have created a smokescreen (pun intended) of propaganda to discredit EZ-Path on YouTube, in jobsite trailers and everywhere they can.

We have taken this threat very seriously and will strike back at their greatest weakness; unlike EZ-Path, the competitor’s Sleeve is NOT “Maintenance Free.”  No other pathway is.

Did you know that you are required, by Code (IFC & NFPA 101 Mandates), to annually inspect and maintain firestop systems?

EZ Path Why Use Anything Else!

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Spotlight on Family & Teamwork

IMG_0759On Thursday, April 28, 2016, millions of workplaces, employees, parents and children celebrated the 23rd year anniversary of the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day program which encourages girls and boys across the country to dream without gender limitations and to think imaginatively about their family, work and community lives. This national, public education program connects what children learn at school with the actual working world. Children learn that a family-friendly work environment is an employer and family issue and not just a woman’s issue. Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work helps girls and boys across the nation discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life (source).


It was the Thursday before Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day, but I had no idea at the time when I picked up a call from my colleague, Mark Izsa who found that he had double-booked himself for the following week was asking if I could cover a presentation/training for him. I apologized and explained that my wife, Courtney would be out of town that day and so I would have to get the kids on the bus… there was simply no way I could get to Queens by 8am.

Later that night at home, I kept going through my mind how I could somehow cover for Mark and still get the kids off to school… when right at that moment my daughter Jacy asked, “Daddy can you take me and Jaxon to work next Thursday?” I replied, “Yes darling, I believe I can.”

I called Mark who loved the idea, but we would first need to check with Amanda at Grainger, who would need to checIMG_0737k with Ernie at St. Albans VA Hospital. Everything checked out and the kids were pumped!

I explained to my daughter and son that this is work and that they were going to have to sit through a 3-hour Firestop Instructional Training (FIT Level 1) course and that there was going to be a test at the end, no kidding.

The following Thursday morning we all woke at the crack of dawn, got dressIMG_1839ed, had a bite to eat and reviewed our PowerPoint. We stopped off at Dunkin Donuts for some treats because David Augello taught me to never show up empty handed. We arrived at the facility, set up our samples and the show was on.

Honestly, the time flew by and I’m not sure who had more fun, me or the kids (see picture ;-). Either way, it was awesome to be able to show them a small part of what Daddy does… and of course spending some extra time with loved ones is an added bonus. However, to be able to do that while at the same time helping out a co-worker in need was absolutely priceless.

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