Firestopping projects are normally carried out during power upgrade works in tower blocks.

Typical projects of this nature are derived from power, cable, satellite and air conditioning upgrades.

Choose the correct Firestopping company for your high-rise project, and you will have peace of mind that your build process is uncompromised, helping to ensure your client is impressed, satisfied and eager to conclude the build contract. Faultless operations resulting in zero snags, minimal impact on residential building users and industry accredited installations is a timeless recipe for company growth and repeat custom.

Gerco-Fas has a proven track record in residential tower and apartment block Firestopping projects that spans over many years. We work with a number of contractors on major projects throughout the UK and Western Europe. We fully understand the importance of a client engaging the correct Passive Fire Protection Company to meet their project demands.

We have put together what we consider to be five vital issues that must be taken into consideration when contracting a Firestopping Company for this type of work.

1. Health and safety of inhabitants.

Assuming this is a public occupied project, the safety of the residents is the first priority. The Firestopping sub-contractor must be highly proficient, undertaking operations with the utmost efficiency, sensitivity and proactive manner ensuring the following:

• Work area lineated with barriers.
• Appropriate warning signage from the access points to working level and designated work zone.
• No materials, tools or access equipment left unmanned.
• Tools whilst not in operation clipped to operatives.
• Excess or deleterious materials ‘tidied as you go’.
• A sympathetic and concise approach to noise pollution during heavy transit and typical rest periods.

2. Specialist tradesmen.

Firestopping can be an unheralded but critical element of the build. As is necessary, Fire Protection is a highly regulated element of construction. As a specialist contractor it is their duty to ensure every project meets, if not exceeds specification and Building Regulations.

It is paramount, for the preservation of life, that a client/contractor deploys a highly professional and vastly experienced Firestopping Company. Mistakes, inexperience, or general misconduct is unaffordable. Always engage a company who pride themselves on excellent Health and Safety standing, contracting knowledge and industry experience. Who also look for continual development not only of themselves but the industry as a whole.

3. Project safety, co-ordination and efficiency.

More than ever trade co-ordination is extremely important during live projects. To limit public risk Firestopping must be undertaken within tight parameters of both the forming of apertures and installation of services through strategic compartments.

A deep understanding of the need to speedily carry out all Firestopping tasks is crucial thus ensuring minimal disruption. Close liaison with the nominated Services Contractor is paramount to ensure precise coordination.

Ultimately you want a Firestopping Company with a track record for being highly proactive in all aspects of their specific tasks, including a flexible approach.

Admittedly having any contractor employed to provide a constant attendance can be somewhat more costly than traditional methods of contract, however, would you not prefer to have peace of mind knowing the task in hand is being approached from a perspective of quality as opposed to being commercially driven?

Over the years many Main Contractors have gone over budget in Firestopping. Badly planned sequence works, site remobilisation, daywork associated downtime and lack of production are all prime examples of cost escalation. While such claims will inevitably be submitted and argued over, the end user remains exposed until the project is complete. Always contract a Firestopping Company with an approach that irradiates such delays and protects the public. As a competent contractor, it’s a paramount duty of care to do so.

As the Main Contractor, whether a Procurement, Estimating or Construction Manager, you look for clarity in planning, costs and project duration.

4. Respectful approach during the project while residents are still in situ.

Working in live environments is a challenge for all stakeholders. Residence and Contractors alike need to be fully briefed, educated and have their expectations managed. It’s human nature to be positive regarding any upgrade or improvement you may receive, however enduring the process in getting there can be somewhat less pleasing. As construction professionals we need to consider the impact of the building user, often concentrating on the little things to make the difference.

Listed below is a standard checklist Gerco-Fas has developed over many years of working in the public domain.

• Ensure operatives are fully briefed on the task at hand.
• Park vehicles, store plant and materials in segregated areas outwith residential key access points.
• Works to be undertaken in sociable hours only.
• Maintain Health & Safety standards throughout the project.
• Ensure operatives are polite and courteous to residents.
• Maintain tidy, segregated work areas.
• Works to be undertaken swiftly and quietly with minimal impact to stakeholders.
• Early warnings, if required to be flagged to Main Contractor and coordinated trades alike should the need arise.

5. Awareness of future proofing and social impact.

Construction is ever evolving. Continuous development of products, standards and legislation drive the industry to provide better results. Ensure you contract a Firestopping Company who strive to stay ahead of the curve and take the opportunity to report works, perhaps outside our initial scope, to benefit the client and stakeholders over the project lifecycle.

If we take the example of the Forth Road Bridge, closed in December 2015 until January 2016. The bridge was closed over its most busy period of the year as the result of a structural failure. Parliamentary investigations have deemed the failure as unforeseeable, however, we have to consider that budgetary constraints led to revised funding allocations and maintenance scheduling. Disaster was avoided, the issues attended to without human sacrifice and the bridge was reopened to the public in an improved condition. The question is what was the ultimate financial and social impact? How many deadlines were missed? How much business lost? How many Christmases ruined?

Avoidable or not, the point is we as an industry, member of the public or parliament, focussing primarily on the next big thing, in this instance, the new Queensferry Crossing which spans the same body of water, and subsequently forgetting about maintaining what we already have?

Over decades Gerco-Fas has been Firestopping in live Residential Tower Blocks, NHS and University Campus Estates. It’s an area we specialise in, passing on our approach and knowledge to our clients. We identify the risks and provide solutions. Often it’s an education on Building Standards or Product Development, but more often than not it’s instilling confidence by prioritising a Duty of Care to the stakeholders.

Gerco-Fas understand the importance of meeting the professional standards expected by contractors such as Commercial Managers, Procurement Managers, Estimating Managers, Project Managers, Facilities Managers, Estate Managers and Mechanical & Electrical Contractors.

Gerco-Fas is a specialist company in Firestopping, Passive Fire Protection and Air Integrity Sealing throughout the UK and Western Europe.

From inception in the 1980’s Gerco has progressively developed into one of the most reliable and well-respected subcontractors operating throughout the UK and Europe.

We’re here to help, investing in projects to collectively exceed expectations.

We cover all main sectors such as data centres, health sector, residential tower blocks, retail, sports stadiums, student accommodation and other commercial or public sector projects.

If you would like to discuss a new project, talk about a current one or find out more about our work, please contact Michael Anderson, Managing Director on 0845 862 7200 or email enquries@gercofas.co.uk

 

Blog author
Michael Anderson

firestopping

Managing Director of Gerco-Fas Ltd,
Head office based in Rotherham, England.
Scotland office based in Dunfermline, Fife.

Managing Director of Gerco-Fas GmbH
Geneva Switzerland.