of Chicago, DEC 2004
December 9, 2004
From the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA)
Bill McHugh, 630.690.0682
"FCIA Applauds City of Chicago and Building Owner/Manager
Fire and Building Safety on LaSalle Bank building fire protection
After watching pictures of the 135 S. LaSalle St. LaSalle
Bank Building burning Monday night, we were very pleased to
hear that the Chicago Fire Department operated flawlessly
to rescue people from the burning building while attacking
the fire and dousing the intense flames. The structure, engineered
to Chicago's High Rise Building Codes past and present, withstood
fire exposure for over 5 hours. Other major high rise fires
have had multiple floors involved in the fire. Here, the fire
was contained to the 29th floor for a long period of time,
saving both life and property.
Since the great fire of 1871, Chicago has been fire sensitive.
It was one of the first cities to build homes and structures
with fire resistant materials to prevent fire spread from
building to building. Chicago provided leadership in building
codes requiring effective compartmentation and fireproofing
in buildings. Effective compartmentation uses hourly fire
resistance rated floors, walls, fire doors, fire dampers and
firestopping to protect the people from fire spread to floors
above or rooms next door. Plus, smoke protection systems are
being retrofitted into fire walls and floors to prevent the
spread of smoke during fires.
From the Detection System that sensed the fire and activated
alarms, communications systems operated by educated building
management and firefighting personnel that instructed people
what to do, 911 and building occupant communication links
with firefighters, occupants trained through fire drills,
to stairwell doors that opened once the building systems sensed
fire and effective compartmentation fire resistance rated
floors that stopped fire from spreading fast vertically for
several hours. This fire exposure may have caused other buildings
to collapse. The LaSalle Bank Building's fire safety features,
rooted in Chicago's concept of effective compartmentation
and Fireproofing really worked.
The question has been raised by many....could 135 S. LaSalle
St. been equipped to provide better fire protection? Absolutely.
By implementing the City of Chicago's Life Safety Evaluation
which requires attention to firestopping in partitions, other
effective compartmentation features and sprinkler systems
can make the building safer.
We wish those injured a speedy recovery. We congratulate
the LaSalle Bank Building Management for educating building
operations personnel and occupants. For excellent performance
under fire, we at FCIA commend Mayor Daley and his "City
that works" including Cortez Trotter and Alderman Bernard
Stone, Chair of the Committee on Buildings, for the legislation
and codes that made this structure perform well past requirements
of most building code requirements (2 - 3 hours) in the United
while saving lives.
For information, contact
FCIA Executive Director
REFERENCE INFORMATION FROM FCIA
Definition Effective Compartmentation: Fire resistance
rated walls and floors are the first component of Effective
Compartmentation. Hourly resistance rated construction is
designed to provide "havens of safety" to those
who are instructed to stay in place during a fire, or cannot
move because they are in a hospital or prison. Holes in compartmentation
cause fire to spread. Firestopping, Fire Dampers and Fire
Doors resist the fire spread to contain the fire to the room
or area of origin.
There are many holes made in the fire walls and floors for
penetrating service items like plumbing & electrical pipes,
cables, cable trays, power bus ducts, air ducts, communications
fiber optics, and other items. Each opening for service items
are treated with Firestopping Systems to restore the
fire rating to what it was before the pipe, cable, etc. went
through the wall or floor. The ductwork is treated with Fire
and Smoke Dampers. The door openings are protected with
Fire Doors. Glass in fire rated walls can be used if
it is Fire Resistance Rated Glass.
Effective Compartmentation is an important part of a buildings'
fire and life safety program and part of Total Fire Protection
as it resists the spread of fire and smoke from one area to
another. This important fire protection feature, serves building
occupants who need havens of safety during a fire in a building.
Total Fire Protection, according to NFPA, includes building
Effective Compartmentation, Fire and Smoke Detection and Alarms,
Occupant and Firefighter Education and suppression systems.
In Effective Compartmentation, Fire Walls and Floors, Firestopping,
Fire and Smoke Dampers and Fire Doors all need to be properly
designed, installed, inspected and maintained to retain effectiveness,
much like other systems in a building. FCIA, the Firestop
Contractors International Association, recommends the use
of effective compartmentation for excellent in place fire
performance of the building when it's really needed
a fire condition.
Definition Firestopping Systems: Firestopping is sealing
the holes in fire resistance rated walls and floors to prevent
the spread of fire. Smoke spread is resisted using Firestopping
with air leakage ratings. Fire and Smoke Dampers, Fire Doors
and Firestopping seal effective compartmentation to prevent
the fast spread of fire in buildings.
Definition Fireproofing: Fireproofing typically refers
to the protection of the structural steel and other supporting
members in a building. Structural Fireproofing for steel can
be anything from concrete encasement, to mineral fiber, intumescent
coating or lightweight cemetitious materials applied to the
steel to prevent overheating and warping supporting steel.
The Firestop Contractors International Association is a non
profit organization of Contractors, Manufacturers, and Associate
Members from the US and Canada. Based in the Chicago Area,
FCIA is active in code and standards development.
FCIA - Firestop Contractors International Association
1257 Golf Circle
Wheaton, IL 60187