Firestopping is the process of making sure that a building can stop or slow the spread of fire from one floor or room to another. It typically involves sealing the areas in between floors or walls with fireproof material. Many commercial buildings, especially newer ones, are built with firestopping in mind. If you are looking to purchase a commercial building in the near future, you will, of course, want a building inspector to check everything from top to bottom. But you might also want to hire the services of a third-party firestop inspector. Here's why firestopping is so important and what an inspector can do for you.
Firestopping Can Limit Property Damage or Save Lives
When a fire breaks out and begins to spread, people inside the building will have a limited amount of time to get out safely and will usually attempt to do so falling a specific fire escape path. If your firestop is in place, the fire can be kept within a specific room or specific floor and will not spread. This means the escape path should remain clear for people to use.
But if your firestop fails, the fire could quickly spread to multiple floors and might even block someone's exit path out of the building. By containing the fire into as small of an area as it can, firestopping will limit the property damage to your building to just that room or floor and may also reduce or prevent casualties from the fire.
The Building Seller May Have Had a Building Inspection Recently, But You Should Still Get Your Own
Most building owners will get a full inspection of the building once per year. This building inspector might not specifically look at the firestopping though. Even if a pre-sale inspection has been completed, it's likely in your best interest to hire your own third-party firestop inspector to take a closer look.
If Your Inspector Finds a Problem, You Could Ask for Money Off the Sale Price or Ask the Seller to Make the Repair
When an inspector decides that the firestopping is not sufficient, your path forward is similar to what would happen if a regular building inspector found a problem with the roof or the plumbing. You can take this evidence to the seller and either ask them to fix the problem themselves before the deal closes or you can ask them to give you a lower sale price and then fix the issue yourself as soon as you move in