Property owners and managers sometimes make modifications to buildings to improve their functionality and value. While these alterations are done with good intentions, these can unintentionally weaken the fire-resistant features of fire-rated assemblies. Simple modifications like adding a sign or changing the hardware of a fire-rated door can compromise their fire-rating.

Breaching fire-rated ceilings to install fire alarm cables and replacing them with non-fire-rated suspended ceiling tiles can void the component’s fire rating. This action permits the spread of smoke and fire through the roof space and creates an insufficient compartment in the building.

Removing or altering fire-rated walls can also compromise the fire rating of affected building components. Any openings created in fire-rated walls or ceilings without proper repair can allow smoke to spread rapidly in case of a fire, affecting the overall fire safety of the property.

Changes to insulation materials or cladding can also affect a building’s fire resistance. The materials used to replace cladding and insulation may not be fire-resistant and impact the assembly’s fire performance.

When making any changes and modifications, property owners and managers must recognize the importance of fire safety. Primarily, they should identify the location of various fire-rated components in a building to know which areas cannot be changed without affecting fire safety. They can seek the assistance of a building inspection engineer NJ to pinpoint the location of fire-rated assemblies and inspect their condition.

A commercial building engineer NJ can also be consulted to prioritize fire safety on any modifications involving penetrations. Some alterations, like communications and cable installations, usually leave unseen holes in fire-rated components like walls and ceilings. Building owners can leverage a professional’s expertise when planning modifications so it will not adversely affect the fire rating of components.

Engineers can also suggest alternative designs or solutions to maintain a building’s structural integrity and fire resistance. This might involve specifying new materials that meet the required fire ratings for facilities.

Learn more about how building modifications can compromise a component’s fire rating with this infographic by Lockatong Engineering.