Tag Archives: IBC

Specifiers cautioned in use of adhesive anchors

by Gary Higbee, CSI, AIA

Contractors in Arizona participate in an American Concrete Institute-Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (ACI-CRSI) adhesive anchor installer certification program. Photo courtesy ACI Arizona Chapter

Contractors in Arizona participate in an American Concrete Institute-Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (ACI-CRSI) adhesive anchor installer certification program. Photo courtesy ACI Arizona Chapter

Designing proper construction details is an important part of architecture and engineering practice that involves more than just a grasp of building technology. If designers are not also alert to market conditions, then their details—no matter how elegant—can be ineffective and hinder the pace of a project. Overlooking the complications surrounding the specification of adhesive anchors is a prime example, as recent code changes regarding their use threaten to stall building projects in some of the United States’ largest jurisdictions.

The complications stem from the International Building Code (IBC) referencing a provision in American Concrete Institute (ACI) 318-2011, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete, requiring workers installing adhesive anchors in certain orientations to have ACI certification. In big construction markets poised to enact the provision, such as New York City, contractors are finding a lack of opportunities for their installers to become certified places them in an impossible position. They cannot use adhesive anchors on jobs unless their installers are certified, and if they install without certification, they risk a violation or stop work order.

How did this problem arise? It seems the only path to certification is by completing ACI/Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI) Adhesive Anchor Installation Certification Program—a two-day course costing from $500 to $900 per person and requiring success in both written and skills tests.

The hurdle is ACI restricts the training and testing to entities it designates. Typically, these are ACI chapters, which, in the larger construction markets are ill-equipped to handle the volume of requests. In New York City, the group tapped to provide this training (one of only three sponsoring groups throughout the state) is only able to certify 15 to 20 installers each month.

With many building trades installing adhesive anchors, this will only produce a small percentage of certified installers needed in the city for projects getting underway in 2015. Solutions such as sending installers to programs out of the city for certification are unlikely to make a dent in the need and only add to the training’s cost. Since ACI developed the certification requirement in response to the anchor failures that caused the collapse of several ceiling panels in the Boston Tunnel of Big Dig infamy, it is surprising this deficiency has not received more attention.

Impact on the industry
The bottleneck resulting from this shortage of training opportunities has the potential to interrupt construction schedules citywide. In correspondence with Louis J. Coletti, president/CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA), the author was warned “at least 40,000 tradespersons must be certified by the effective date of the new code if we are to avoid stalling major public and private projects in the city.”

For specifiers, steering clear of adhesive anchors in favor of other types is a way to elude this glitch. However, in some applications, these products may be the preferred, or only acceptable, anchorage method because of the superior holding power in cracked or damaged concrete. Thus, it is important to clarify not all adhesive anchor installations require the installer to be certified. Only when anchors are installed in a horizontal or overhead orientation and under a sustained tension load is the ACI requirement applicable.

Due to the history of failures in these orientations, ACI requires special inspection. This adds to both the project team’s responsibilities and expenses. The architect and engineer must identify on plans filed with a building department those adhesive anchors for which special inspection is required. Subsequently, the owner must engage an independent testing laboratory to perform the inspections, which ACI 318-11 requires to be continuous—meaning no drilling and installing of adhesive anchors should occur unless an inspector is observing the installers’ procedures.

The special inspector must furnish a report to the engineer of record and to the building official affirming whether the installation procedures and materials covered by the report conform to the approved contract documents and the manufacturer’s printed installation instructions. However, before any installation is performed—and this is critical—the inspector must verify the installer’s certification. This circles back to the original problem: limited opportunities for installers to get certified.

While the designers and owners incur added costs and responsibilities, only the contractors are accountable for maintaining certified personnel to perform the installations. If construction activity is to move forward without expensive delays, these contractors must be able to find certified installers.

Until alternatives—such as moratoriums on enforcement, and permitting other qualified entities to conduct the certification training—are in place to address this looming problem, designers should be alert to the potential for added costs and delay when specifying adhesive anchors for installations requiring special inspection.

GaryHigbeeAIAGary Higbee, CSI, AIA, is the director of industry development for the Steel Institute of New York (SINY) and the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York (OMINY). Formerly the assistant director for technical services with New York State’s Building Codes Division and in architectural practice for three decades, he served in various capacities throughout this period on NYS, HUD, and ICC code drafting and development committees. Higbee is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), along with other national associations. He can be reached at higbee@siny.org.

Standards and Terminologies

In the May 2014 issue of The Construction Specifier, we published the article, “Passive Fire Protection and Interior Wall Assemblies,” by Gregg Stahl. Soon after, a reader contacted us regarding what he considered inaccuracies. We reached out to the author and, in the interest of continuing the discourse about this important topic, excerpts from both sides are included below.

Reader: The first issue is the reference to ASTM E603. The author mentions this is one of two standards that rates assemblies. Actually, ASTM E603 is a “guide” standard, and is used to explain the various types of fire tests, whether they are ASTM, NFPA, UL, or FM, and how they can be compared and contrasted. This standard is not a test method.
Author: The reader brings up several good points in regard to the article on passive fire protection. It should be noted, however, this piece was intended to provide a general overview on the basic principles of passive fire protection. As to the first point, the reader is technically correct. E603 is in fact an ASTM “Guide,” not an ASTM “Standard.” In the “Scope” section of this guide, it does state one of the purposes is to “allow(s) users to obtain fire-test-response characteristics of materials, products, or assemblies, which are useful data for describing or appraising their fire performance under actual fire conditions.” In the subsequent paragraphs, I go on to describe how A603 is used as well as differentiating it from the E119 fire test, which is testing the effectiveness of a particular assembly.

Reader: The second issue is the article states ASTM E119 tests the effectiveness of an assembly as a “fire barrier.” Although not untrue, the use of “fire barrier” seems to limit the type of fire-rated assembly that is tested, since a “fire barrier” is a specific type of fire-rated assembly used by the IBC and NFPA. ASTM E119 is used to test any type of assembly for fire-resistance, whether it is a wall, roof system, floor system, column, beam, etc.
Author: I should have been more precise in the selection of the terminology used. The intent of the term was to use a dictionary meaning, not a fire test assembly meaning. A Google search for the term will produce numerous definitions, such as the one below:

fire barrier: a continuous vertical or horizontal assembly, such as a wall or floor, that is designed and constructed with a specified fire resistance rating to limit the spread of fire and that also will restrict the movement of smoke. Such barriers might have protected openings.

Reader: The third issue is mentioning the hose stream test is used to “measure an assembly’s resistance to water pressure.” This is misleading. The hose stream test is not really a measure of an assembly’s resistance to water pressure, but to test the system’s integrity. As the commentary to the standard states, the hose stream tests the “ability of the construction to resist disintegration under adverse conditions.” In other words, it is a way of testing, from a distance (it is very hot) the assembly’s integrity from falling debris.
Author: The reader references “the standard,” but I do not know to which standard he is referring. ASTM E2226, Standard Practice for Application of Hose Stream, states:

1.3 – The result derived from this practice is one factor in assessing the integrity of building elements after fire exposure. The practice prescribes a standard hose stream exposure for comparing performance of building elements after fire exposure and evaluates various materials and construction techniques under common conditions.

The application of the hose stream does exert pressure on the assembly after it has completed either the full cycle of an E119 fire test or 50 percent of the time of the rated wall assembly. I agree the single word “pressure” does not go far enough to explain—the intent was to determine the integrity of the remaining assembly.

Reader: The fourth and final issue is the use of “area separation firewalls” in the article, and its associated endnote. The use of “area separation” walls was dropped when the IBC was published in 2000, and is not a term used by NFPA’s standards. The correct term used by both the IBC and NFPA is “fire wall” (not a single word). The endnote (no. 3) gives the impression these “area separation firewalls” are used to separate residential units or commercial tenants. This is incorrect. A fire wall divides a building—residential or commercial—into separate buildings so they can be considered independently when applying the code. “Fire partitions” are used for residential unit and commercial tenant separations within a single building and do not require the type of requirements described in the article.
Author: I respectfully disagree with the reader, who seems to be making the reference to area separation walls fit his use without recognizing the term can have more than one use or intent. It was employed here with no reference to NFPA or IBC, and was not intended as the reader interpreted it.
The term “area separation wall”—or “ASW” as it is commonly abbreviated—is used for a particular type of fire-rated wall assembly with a two-hour fire resistance rating, which is typically intended to permit controlled collapse of one unit in a multifamily residence, while still remaining intact and able to protect the adjacent unit in a fire situation. This is a common term in the construction industry. The reader can check the literature of various manufacturers and find this type of assembly. There are also various UL assemblies for this type of construction.

Clarification on wall systems article

The April 2013 issue of The Construction Specifier included a technical feature by J.W. Mollohan, CSI, CCPR, CEP, LEED GA, entitled, “Exterior Wall Assemblies: Are You Getting What You Specified?”  We received the following letter from Cliff Black, a CSI member and a building envelope product manager for Firestone Building Products.

I am writing in regard to the article on exterior wall assemblies. I agree with the author the issue is certainly a challenging one for the design and specifying community. I would like to cite the bracketed statement at the top of page 57, which states, “buildings of two stories or more.” This appears to be taken in the context of the design of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-load-bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components, addressing multi-story fire propagation.

However, the International Building Code (IBC) 2603.5 states NFPA 285 is required for buildings of any height for Types I through IV construction incorporating combustible plastic insulation in the exterior wall assembly. IBC Chapter 14 (“Exterior Walls”) calls for differing requirements for water-resistant barriers (WRBs) and various combustible claddings, qualified by height.

In this case, I believe the statement should read “buildings of any height,” rather than “buildings of two stories or more.”

 

Mr. Mollohan replied to Mr. Black, and has allowed us to share it with other readers of the magazine:

 

Good catch, Clint! You are absolutely correct that one must be familiar with multiple chapters of the IBC to determine whether an NFPA 285 test is required. My error, and your correction, illustrates the difficulty of this provision. I am attaching an adaptation of a flow chart originally created by Barbara Horwitz-Bennett of DuPont Building Innovations for guidance to interested readers:

Diagram_edited-1

Sprayed Fire-resistive Materials, Bond Strength, and the IBC

by John Dalton

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Photo © BigStockPhoto/Tim Markley

Sprayed fire-resistive materials (SFRMs) are passive fire-protection materials intended for direct application to structural building members. They are predominantly cementitious or mineral-fiber-based, with the fire-resistive qualities and physical characteristics varying widely between the respective types. A recent code change pertaining to these materials is important for design/construction professionals to understand. Continue reading

Specifying NFPA 285 Testing

By Joseph Berchenko AIA, CSI, CCS

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Flames can blast through windows to climb along exterior walls—a fact replicated by a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) test.
Photo © BigStockPhoto/Anne-Louise Quarfoth

For testing certain wall assemblies, the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) requires National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-load-bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components. (That standard’s title notwithstanding, the test is performed on both load-bearing and non-load-bearing wall assemblies.) Its successful completion demonstrates the ability of an exterior wall mockup to contain vertical and horizontal flame spread across the face and through the wall’s core. Continue reading