I’ve heard of (and been victim to) the notorious Pinch to Grow an Inch, but a pinch to stop a fire? No, I haven’t lost it – I’ve actually just come across some very interesting firestop products for use with plastic pipes: Z240 pipe collars from Abesco.
If you’re wondering what firestopping could possibly have to do with pipes, let me explain. Any point at which conduit, cables, pipes or ducts penetrate a wall, ceiling or floor is considered a weak spot from the fire safety standpoint – any type of hole or void in a structure constitutes a place through which flame and smoke can spread during a fire. The further flame and smoke spread, the more damage is done. That’s why code requires cable, conduit, pipe and duct penetrations to be sealed with intumescent material, which expands and hardens around the penetrant to seal out fire and fumes.
This is mostly done with duct wraps, fire caulks, and pipe collars. Standard pipe collars are made for use with metallic pipes, and focus on blocking flame spread through the gaps around the pipe. But what happens when your pipes are PVC or another type of plastic, and , unlike most metal pipes, run the risk of melting and deforming in the presence of intense heat and flame? In situations like this, your intumescent firestop needs to take things a few steps further.
That’s where the unique design and function of Abesco’s Z240 pipe collars come into play: designed specifically for use with plastic pipes, these intumescent collars expand to fill in not only the gap around the outside of pipes, but to actually pinch closed softening/melted pipes as well. This pinching action serves to fill in the structural hole left when the pipe gives way to the heat, and also to prevent flame from sneaking along and/or through the compromised pipe. It just clamps down, and that’s pretty much the end of things, at least from that end of the pipe.
The old “stop, drop, and roll” routine and basic fire extinguisher skills are very useful, but if you’re trying to prevent flame and smoke from spreading through wall penetrations, neither will do you much good. What you really need is an intumescent filler material like Abesco‘s FP200 Fire-Rated Foam. This firestop-in-a-can fills in the gaps where cables or pipes pass through walls, ceilings, and floors, to maintain a tight seal that inhibits fire spread between rooms.
So how does it work? As I mentioned before, Abesco FP200 is intumescent, which means that it expands and forms a hard, impenetrable char when exposed to fire. This char has the ability to seal out flame, smoke, toxic fumes and water for up to 2 hours of fire exposure. The foam can be used to seal gaps in concrete, brick, wood, and metals like aluminum and steel, and its performance isn’t affected by humidity or moisture. As a matter of fact (and I think this is pretty fascinating), after application it actually cures (dries) upon being exposed to atmospheric humidity!
Abesco FP200 foam has been fire-rated according to the requirements of ASTM E-814 (UL 1479), contains no chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and is environmentally friendly.