The Difference Between Firestopping and Fireproofing

Safety

Firestopping and fireproofing are two critical pieces of construction for your building. In the case of a fire, knowing the differences between the two can help limit property damage, personal injury, and even death. As a business or property owner, it’s essential that you know these differences and use them in tandem to keep your building, equipment, and employees or guests properly protected. Below, we’re going over the differences between firestopping and fireproofing, and why your business needs both!

There is Much Confusion Between the Two

When most business and property owners think of fire safety, they imagine a fire sprinkler system or alarm system designed to suppress a fire. These kinds of systems are critical components, but in the process of protecting a building from a fire, they come much later than firestopping and fireproofing. But, because there is so much confusion surrounding firestopping and fireproofing, let’s first define each in a general sense.

Firestopping

Firestopping is easiest to imagine if you picture a building as a single unit with multiple rooms inside. Since a fire can start in any individual room, it’s imperative that the spread of fire from that location is slowed to allow proper evacuation and to allow the most time possible for emergency response teams to get on site.

Firestopping is the sealant that gets applied to any points through which a fire could spread out of the room of origin to another part of the building. This includes areas where the walls join with the floor or ceiling joists, as well as wall-to-wall connections. Firestopping sealant will help prevent the spread of fire and harmful gases through these weak points, which can help limit property damage and personal injury as well as give first responders a longer time to respond and enter the building safely.

Fireproofing

While firestopping helps prevent the spread of fire and harmful gases throughout your building, fireproofing protects the structural portions of your building to prevent collapse and irreparable damage during a fire. Fireproofing is most commonly applied to steel and concrete during your building’s construction.

In the case of a fire, building material can reach highly unsafe temperatures. Overheated steel can become weakened and collapse, and overheated concrete can expand and burst if the moisture content trapped inside becomes too hot. This expansion can lead to exploding concrete walls that both rapidly deplete your building’s structural integrity and pose an immediate danger to anyone in the vicinity.

What Does Fireproofing Cover?

Typically, a fireproofing sealant is applied to steel and concrete during construction, with a particular focus on the more structural areas of your building. It can also be applied to other materials like electrical circuits, fire barriers, and even fuel tanks.

Reasons Your Business Needs Fireproofing

Fireproofing is essential for a few reasons. Most importantly, it helps maintain your building’s structural integrity for a longer time during a fire, allowing occupants to evacuate and first responders to enter safely to help put out the fire.

If emergency teams are able to put out the fire, fireproofing will also help prevent your building from collapsing, which will, of course, reduce property damage and can help reduce personal injury as well.

Firestopping and fireproofing may sound like interchangeable terms at first, but hopefully, you now understand the importance of fireproofing in your business. If you’re planning on construction or additions to your building, contact one of our highly-trained fireproofing experts to discuss how fireproofing can benefit you, your employees, and your property.