Owners Beware: Building Modifications Can Void a Component’s Fire Rating

Building owners usually invest in renovations and modifications to enhance and maintain their properties. Although such procedures can improve a structure’s functionality and appearance, these alterations might inadvertently compromise the fire-resistance properties of the building.

Modifying electrical systems, replacing fire-related doors with non-rated ones, or drilling in walls are      common alterations that might disrupt a well-planned fire protection system. These can affect the building’s safety and code compliance, and result in liabilities, damaged reputation, and high costs. Thus, exercising caution when making property improvements is essential.

Property owners must understand the role of fire ratings when making building improvements. A fire rating measures the performance of a component during a fire. It determines how long a door, wall, or ceiling can resist heat, flames, and smoke while preserving its structural integrity.

In controlled laboratory tests, building components are exposed to standardized fire conditions to assess their behavior during a fire. They should meet the requirements, including:

  • maintaining its structural integrity
  • limiting the passage of flames and hot gases
  • preventing the temperature rise on the unexposed side
  • effective sealing and closure of gaps

Once a component successfully passes the criteria for the specified duration, it is certified and listed by authorities and certification bodies.

Fire-rated components include instructions for proper and safe installation, operation, and maintenance. Opting for a reputable structural engineer NJ is advisable when installing and maintaining fire-rated building components. These professionals can plan renovation projects around fire-rated assemblies to preserve their fire-resistant properties.

Ignoring the manufacturer’s instructions can undermine the ability of components to withstand fire and smoke, potentially putting safety and properties at risk. Builders, constructors, and property owners must follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to maintain fire safety and compliance with local building codes. They can also ask for help from a building inspection engineer NJ to determine which location and components of the building are safe to modify.

To learn more about building modifications, read this infographic from Lockatong Engineering.