The Fire Protection Study survey was mailed to 1,500 active, qualified W&C subscribers who are fireproofing/firestop contractors.

The purpose of the study was to primarily obtain information on fire protection systems, requirements, codes and testing facilities. Furthermore, readers need a thorough insight on who is using the systems and what they had to say about the process involved.

The following is a condensed overview of the questionnaire. Among the titles that participated were presidents/owners, production/project managers, supervisors, architects, mechanics/technicians, estimators, code enforcement officials and more.

What they said

Sixty-one percent of the participants claimed that their number-one source for information on fire protection systems was through suppliers. Manufacturers came in second as a resource for information at 58 percent. Third-party testing reports, trade publications, the Internet and architects were also cited.

Participants were asked the reliability of this information. Underwriters Laboratories topped the list with 54 percent. Trailing not far behind were manufacturers. However, the Internet, trade publications, architects and architectural catalogs were viewed only half the time as reliable.

The participants in this survey are most influenced by building codes when making decisions for fire protection systems, at 78 percent. Following behind at 63 percent was cost. Other mentions were architects, building managers, quality and the reliability of the contractor.

In regards to how much the current building codes are viewed as restrictive, 75 percent said that they did not feel that those governing were restrictive at all. However, 76 percent did claim that in the last 10 years the codes have become more restrictive. Eight percent claimed there was no change and 16 percent claimed less restrictive.

The survey results report that codes are affecting the industry for the better, with a vote of 52 percent in favor. Those who claimed not sure were 28 percent and 20 percent said for the worse.

When asked what the level of satisfaction is with current fire protection systems/products, 16 percent claimed very satisfied, 47 percent claimed satisfied, with only 3 percent claimed not at all satisfied.

Performance is most important compared to the cost. The former stole 87 percent of the vote and 13 percent was the latter. When installing a complete fireproofing system, 74 percent claimed that labor is higher to the overall cost vs. the 26 percent that said material cost was more.

Are non-code compliant fireproofing system substitutions appropriate when tested and listed fireproofing systems are available? Only 15 percent said yes vs. 85 percent that claimed no. In extension, 87 percent said no when asked if they had ever installed or substituted a non-compliant system on a project when a tested and listed system was available. For the 13 percent that answered yes, it was asked what the deciding factor was in choosing a non-code compliant fireproofing system. Availability was the main response at 67 percent. Other factors were labor costs, performance, owner mandated and if it was architect specified.

When asked who should have the responsibility of making sure tested and listed code compliant fireproofing systems are used when available, nearly half responded that building officials should (at 46 percent). Following them would be architects at 32 percent. Contractors and suppliers were at the bottom of the list at 18 and 3 percent, respectively.

Codes are paramount

Overall, it seems that collectively owners, estimators, subcontractors, et al., all seem to keep the codes at the forefront and follow specifications to the best of their knowledge. Several architects that remarked on the importance of understanding the responsibility in the fire protection process said they design to meet codes.

To purchase the complete Fire Protection Survey results, please visit the Web site at and go to Exclusive Industry Research.