You’ve heard of firestopping caulk and foam, but… pillows? Yes, you read that correctly. Pillows. Namely 3M™ Fire Barrier Pillows, little bundles of intumescent material that can be used to fill in and firestop larger wall penetrations, like the ones you get when you run exceptionally large cable trays from one room to the next. These are what you turn to when gaps are so big that soft materials like foam and caulk just don’t have the structural integrity to do the job – as a matter of fact, they’re UL listed to firestop openings up to 540 square inches.
Installing 3M™ Fire Barrier Pillows is a no-mess project – just fit enough into the gap to completely close it , and you’re done. Unless gaps that are too small to be filled by the smallest size pillow remain, there’s no need for caulk, putty, or other conformable firestop products. Fire Barrier pillows have a 3-hour flame rating, and they’re super easy to replace after a fire – there’s no need to scrape charred material out if the penetration gap. Just pull out the spent pillows and pop in new ones whenever you need to.
If you need to firestop smaller cable penetrations, construction gaps, or openings in electrical boxes but are tired of dealing with some of the messier caulks and foams out there, then I think you’re going to like today’s featured product. My attention was recently caught by SpecSeal® SSP Putty from STI, a clay-like firestopping agent that can be applied without tools or mess. Like I said, this putty is very malleable, just like clay, so all you need to do is work it into openings with your hands, instead of hauling out a caulk gun or trowel. Sounds nice and easy, right?
It is. But no-hassle installation is only one of the benefits of SpecSeal® putty. First of all, it has very strong adhesive properties, so it sticks really well to just about any type of building material, as well as pipes, conduit, and cable jackets. Next, it goes through a two-stage intumescence process when exposed to fire, meaning that it swells (to up to 8 times its original size) to create a gap-free barrier to block the passage of smoke, flame, water, and fumes. As a matter of fact, it’s even great at blocking noise, which makes it ideal for soundproofing as well.
If you’ve ever firestopped with caulk or foam, you’ve probably found that once it dries, that’s it. If you need to make any changes, you need to pull out all of the cured intumescent material, update your cabling and make any other necessary modifications, and then refill gaps with a fresh application of foam or caulk. But one of the really interesting features of SpecSeal® is that it never dries or hardens, so it’s reworkable at any time. This can save you money in the long run, because you don’t have to invest in new firestopping putty every time you need to update a cable configuration. And even though it doesn’t dry, it stays put, so you don’t have to worry about it falling or sagging out of place. In addition, there’s no “cure time,” so you don’t have to wait hours for it to become fully effective – it’s ready to go from the start.
SpecSeal® SSP Putty is rated for up to 3 hours of fire protection, per the requirements of ASTM E 119.
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.