View of San Francisco from Potrero Hill.
MattGush View of San Francisco from Potrero Hill.

One World Trade Center. Salesforce Tower. Chicago River Point. The Steinway Tower. Wilshire Grand.

These tall and supertall buildings represent billions of dollars in owner investment. The architect, curtainwall manufacturer, and firestop contractors behind them make every effort to ensure occupant safety and investment protection.

How should the firestop lessons of these iconic structures inform your work? How do best practices in fire containment apply to any mid- or high-rise project?

Trusted Judgment
Take perimeter fire control. No one likes to imagine lashing tongues of flame racing up a building’s side, yet history shows it can likely happen. Angie Ogino knows all about that hazard. “I still see curtainwall details come in from architects that have either no insulation or the wrong type of insulation installed in the spandrel wall cavity,” she says.

Ogino, LEED AP, leads the Technical Services “Insolutions” team of the Owens Corning Thermafiber group. She has over 20 years of firestop experience, providing engineering judgments and technical assistance to architects, building officials, and contractors. Her team is behind the perimeter fire containment systems for four of the five tallest buildings in North America, including those mentioned above.

A Question of Liability
“What level of liability does an architect want to assume?” Ogino asks. “There’s a lot of confusion. Some think they can build a curtainwall that’s all vision glass and provide no protection at the perimeter joint, for example. Or, they believe that automatic sprinklers can serve as a trade-up patch for fire containment. That’s putting too much reliance on just one aspect of life safety protection. What happens if a fire suppression system is disabled by nature or terror?”

She knows the care and concern designers approach on the projects that she is involved with. The focus on life safety through fire detection, suppression, and compartmentation factors huge in the planning. Her team routinely advises project teams in best practice across a myriad of exterior wall assembly options.

Architect Indemnification
Caution doesn’t stop with life safety. Working with Ogino’s team also serves the architect’s self-interest through the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296).

The SAFETY Act, as it is more widely known, limits liability for claims resulting from an act of terrorism where officially designated building materials are deployed. Architects, firestop contractors, and curtainwall OEMs, using materials with SAFETY Act designation provides indemnification from third-party liability claims. Specifying a non-designated material may expose the project team to massive liability.

Life Safety Beyond Code
“The Department of Homeland Security performed a full investigation around our firestop products,” Ogino explains. “We had to provide product traceability, third-party certification through UL and other independent testing agencies, personnel training review, and demonstration of our engineering judgment capabilities. SAFETY Act designation is a very high bar.” So much so, Owens Corning is the only insulating products and services company to earn the distinction.

For the owners, architects, contractors, and tenants of One World Trade Center, Salesforce Tower, Wilshire Grand, or any mid- or high-rise structure, SAFETY Act designation is uniquely qualified peace of mind.

Learn more on how to help protect your reputation on mid- and high-rise projects by downloading this guide.