As a facility manager, you hear a lot about the importance of maintaining your facility’s fire and life safety systems. It’s important to the integrity of the building as well as the safety of its occupants to ensure your facility’s fire barriers are up-to-date with the codes and standards. This includes the maintenance of a building’s fire doors, fire and smoke dampers, firestopping (fire-rated walls, ceilings and floors). However, one area that is often overlooked is a facility’s above ceiling inspection. Fire safety inspections above the ceiling are just as important as any other fire protection inspection. In fact, above ceiling is one of the most common inspections that is required by Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
Buildings are constantly changing from small equipment upgrades to full building repairs. And with mechanical work is often being performed out of sight, you have no idea what’s going on up there. Unfortunately, it is left looking inadequate with various issues that could become potential fire hazards. Anything from bad wiring to unsealed holes from the penetration of pipes could be creating risks above the ceiling.
Faulty wiring is one of the top reasons for fires that start above ceiling. Wires that are joined together can create heat, and if too much heat is built up it can cause sparks or a fire. By removing wires from sprinkler lines and hangers and using zip-ties to connect them will help prevent the risk of a fire from starting.
Often, the first line of defense against fire above ceiling is the junction box cover. If there is no junction box cover, then fire and smoke can begin to spread. Therefore, installing junction boxes covers will help contain a fire to its origin location.
Finally, any gaps and holes from unsealed penetrations allow easy access for both fire and smoke to spread quickly throughout the building. This will put your building and everyone inside at risk. This is where firestopping comes in handy by preventing the spread of fire and smoke above the ceiling.