UL’s guide to steelwork fire protection

Fire protection – Building codes rely on fire protection features to safeguard people from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment and to provide safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations. One aspect of this protection is based on maintaining the structural integrity of the building during fires using a fire safety concept or engineering approach. The overall fire safety in a building includes requiring fire-resistance-rated fire walls, fire barriers, fire partitions, smoke barriers, shaft enclosures and horizontal assemblies as well as complementary ‘active’ fire protective systems to be provided to limit the spread of fire. It also includes requirements designed to limit the movement of smoke and toxic gases through the building using smoke barriers and partitions. This passive protection is an integral part of the overall safety scheme included in the codes.

An important aspect of maintaining a building’s structural integrity is protecting the steelwork used to support the floors, walls, roofs and other building systems that are provided to allow the building to be functional. Various products are used to protect the steelwork such as boards, cementitious or fibrous sprays and intumescent coatings. Some of these materials have reactive properties which provide an increased level of insulation when exposed to elevated temperatures.

UL certifies a wide range of products that are covered by steelwork protective requirements in building codes. These products and materials, and the applications for which they are certified, are covered in detail in this guide. Since some of the products are also certified for use during the erection process and may be exposed to weather elements or intended for long-term use in an external environment, these applications are also covered in this guide. Boards, sprays and intumescent coatings that have been certified by UL are not listed by name or brand in this guide; up-to-date Listings (Certifications) can be found on UL Product iQ™.

We developed this guide for use by code and inspection authorities, architects, contractors, installers and other interested parties. It is intended to aid in understanding the basic components of fire protection for structural steelwork, in association with the applicable codes and standards to facilitate safe, code-compliant installations.

Our guides are updated as necessary due to new product developments, changes in the codes or the need for clarification. To confirm the current status of any UL Guide, please contact UL.