Why use one qualified company to do all firestopping on my construction project (single sourcing)?

Construction employee applying firestop to a building.

Have you ever had coordination issues with firestopping? Have you ever had accountability issues with your trade contractor regarding firestopping? It has been a common practice to include firestopping in bid packages completed by mechanical, electrical, plumbing, drywall, and enclosure companies. In recent years, there has been a fundamental shift in how firestopping is viewed. Today, we are consistently seeing General Contractors pull out firestopping from those bid packages. They are developing a bid package that asks one qualified company (UL or FM Certified) to provide all of the firestopping on a project. This is known as single sourcing.

Compliant Firestop Completed by Qualified Single Source Firestop Provider
Compliant Firestop Completed by Qualified Single Source Firestop Provider

Why would General Contractors single source firestopping vs. packaging it in the trades?

We've Learned it Increases Efficiency – When we talk to project teams that used a single source firestop provider, to a person they tell us that they love the single-source provider approach. They also say that they’ll not buy out firestopping through the trades again. Why? Because having one point of contact instead of five makes them more efficient with their time.

This is especially true with the Field Superintendent. Firestopping is generally .25 -.50% of the total project cost. So why would Field Superintendents want to spend their valuable time on firestopping as opposed to the larger dollar scopes like mechanical, electrical, structure, glazing, etc.?

The Trades Don’t Want to do Firestopping - Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Drywall, and Enclosure companies consistently say that they don’t want to do firestopping as it’s not their core business. They think the only reason it gets put in their scope is because “it’s been done that way in the past”. In short, the trades are not as efficient at firestop installation and don’t have the expertise.

Non-Compliant Firestop Completed by Trade Contractor
Non-Compliant Firestop Completed by Trade Contractor

This costs them time and money through slower production and potentially failed inspections. Most trade contractors have less experienced and untrained employees (often an apprentice) who perform the firestop install, which often leads to installs that are non-compliant. This can cause projects to be stalled if an inspector fails the installation. Ultimately, having to perform firestopping adds to the trade contractor’s risk.

Saves Money – When firestopping is not done correctly, it costs money to fix it. Now that recent building codes are requiring a 3rd party inspector for firestopping on buildings 75’ or taller and buildings that are risk category 3 or 4 (public assembly, K-12 schools, etc.), more and more non-compliant firestop is flagged by inspectors. Fixing non-compliant firestopping can cost up to $700/issue once finishes are in place (Medical Construction & Design November/December 2014 issue; “Defend in Place”). Why not do it right the first time?

Do you want to increase your field teams’ efficiency through less communication (one contact instead of five)? Do you want to save your client (and your company) money? Then you want to do firestopping right the first time and develop a bid package that requires one qualified installer to perform all firestopping on your project. It does not cost any more money to do firestopping right. Save time, save money, and save a headache – why wouldn’t you use a single source firestop provider?

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