About The Training
The 2012 International Building Code requires special inspection of firestopping for buildings over 75 feet in height, and category III and IV buildings (IBC article 1705.16).
The IFC 3rd-party inspector education and examination program is designed to help provide a broad range of knowledge necessary for inspectors charged with inspection of installed firestop systems.
Firestop-related seminars and classes are useful for increasing understanding of firestop principles and obtaining a general understanding. Unfortunately, such seminars are not comprehensive enough to truly provide all of the needed technical information that a 3rd-party inspector would need to know to perform a knowledgeable and competent "special inspection" as defined by the International Building Code. Such in-depth knowledge can help assure that the inspector does not overlook installed firestops that might provide inferior fire resistance. Conversely, such expertise can also allow an inspector to quickly recognize unusual conditions that are nevertheless code-compliant.
To fill this education gap, the International Firestop Council developed the first comprehensive Firestop Special Inspection education and certificate program. To allow construction inspectors from all of the hundreds of jurisdictions throughout the US, and in foreign countries also referencing the IBC, to have access to the technical information required for a comprehensive understanding of firestopping, the program was designed as a self-education program using resources that can all be accessed through the internet. All except the required ASTM standards can be accessed at no cost. The self-education reading and video list consists of the most critical and important information sources on firestopping.
Any person spending the 40-60 hours of study needed to read and comprehend the self-education program references will likely want some tangible confirmation of the knowledge they have acquired. To make that possible, the IFC partnered with Test.com to make available an online examination. The examination requires an 80% grade to pass. Early test-taking results have indicated that people not taking the time to study each and every one of the self-education program references will find passing the exam to be close to impossible. Each one of the references provides some information that is essential to a full technical understanding of firestop installations and inspection.
Upon successful exam completion, a certificate will be provided indicating the exam-taker's name and date of test, available for immediate download, and also e-mailed to the exam-taker's e-mail address.
To fully meet the education and experience requirements as recommended by the International Firestop Council, the person passing the Test.com exam should obtain hands-on product training from four different firestop manufacturers. This will help ensure that the person not only understands the theoretical knowledge related to firestopping, but also has a first-hand understanding of the various types of firestopping products that would be encountered during inspection work. The manufacturer members of the International Firestop Council have all pledged to make such hands-on product training available upon request, as arranged with local representatives. While it is impossible to provide training that would cover every product from every firestop manufacturer, obtaining training from at least 4 manufacturers should provide enough exposure to all of the major product types and installation methods to allow the inspector to have an understanding of the vast majority of installations. Each inspector is of course encouraged to seek out and obtain additional product training when needed.
The education received through this program may be submitted to the authority having jurisdiction to help establish competence for Special Inspector Qualifications.
1704.2.1 Special inspector qualifications. The special inspector shall provide written documentation to the building official demonstrating his or her competence and relevant experience or training.
Trainee Testimonial: More to it than expected
My jurisdiction is requiring a multi-story building owner to hire a Special Firestop Inspector for the very first time. I am truly grateful now that I did not pass the test the first go around. Having to go back and re-visit the material has made me very aware I didn’t have a clue. There is so much more to it than picking a submittal and comparing it to the installation.
I am now confident my jurisdiction will only accept a Special Inspector qualified per ASTM Standards of Practice and hopefully IFC certificated.
Thank you. You have contributed to a “safer tomorrow” in, at least, my little part of the world.
T.M., Fire Inspector, Brevard County, FL
Can I get a printed manual containing all of the reading list references?
Due to copyright reasons, the IFC cannot create and make available a compendium of the listed reference documents, even though such a document would clearly be useful as a reference for study, review, and note-taking. The person using this self-study course is strongly encouraged to print out the referenced web documents on their own as they move through the self-study course. Of course, you must comply with applicable copyright and fair use law, upon which we offer no legal advice.
The latest research on educational techniques indicates that students learn best from printed materials, rather than from online reading. Many people find reading printed material to be easier than reading for hours from a computer screen. Using a printed document will also allow you to highlight the most important information and to make individual notes.
Plan your study program: Watch a replay of the IFC's webinar "Tips and Techniques to Help Prepare for a Successful IFC Special Inspector Exam". Go to the IFC's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/firestoporg
How to study?
If it has been a long time since you have studied a significant amount of material in preparation for an exam, and if you have minimal experience with home-study, you might want to review the adult-learning Study Skills refresher posted by Athabasca University at http://lss.athabascau.ca/counselling/study_skills_series.php
Self-Study Reading and Video List
Document IFC04-16Download Entire Reading List (links)
The order in which these documents are listed provides an approximate order in which it is suggested that they be read and studied. The material goes from basic to more involved, and from general to more specific.
FEMA: "Overview of fire protection in buildings" (28 pages) [Optional, but highly recommended if you have limited experience in fire safety]
"Close Enough, Is Not Good Enough: A Demonstration of Proper Vs. Improper Firestopping"(6:35)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4bw-2ME4uc
PowerPoint slides downloadable from the IFC website
Perimeter joint firestoppinghttp://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/perimeter_curtain_wall_revised.ppt
Firestop system selectionhttp://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/system_selection.ppt
"Inspecting firestop for compliance" (18:29)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6ZQy4CuGbk
IFC Engineering Judgment Guidelineshttp://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/ifc_guidelines_for_evaluating_firestop_systems_in_engineering_judgments.pdf
IFC Inspector Pocket Guidehttp://a.firestop.org/~firestp5/files/IFC_Pocket_Guide-Rev_2016.pdf
"What's the difference between firestopping & fireblocking", PM Engineer Magazinehttp://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/pme_firestopping801.pdf
UL Guide Information: Through-penetration Firestop Systems, category XHEZhttp://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/showpage.html?name=XHEZ.GuideInfo&ccnshorttitle=Through-penetration+Firestop+Systems&objid=1074338240&cfgid=1073741824&version=versionless&parent_id=1073995580&sequence=1
UL Guide Information: Fire Resistant Joint Systems, category XHBNhttp://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/showpage.html?name=XHBN.GuideInfo&ccnshorttitle=Joint+Systems&objid=1074337724&cfgid=1073741824&version=versionless&parent_id=1073995560&sequence=1
UL Guide Information: Perimeter Fire Containment Systems, category XHDGhttp://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/showpage.html?name=XHDG.GuideInfo&ccnshorttitle=Joint+Systems&objid=1074337724&cfgid=1073741824&version=versionless&parent_id=1073995560&sequence=1
"Membrane penetrations in Fire Resistant Rated Walls", The Code Authority, 2009 Issue 1http://www.ul.com/global/documents/offerings/perspectives/regulators/technical/ul_MembranePenetrations.pdf
b. Clarifying membrane penetration requirementshttp://a.firestop.org/~firestp5/files/Clarifying_Membrane_Penetration_Requirements.pdf
ASTM E2174-14, Standard Practice for On-Site Inspection of Installed Fire Stops ($42 from astm.org)http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2174.htm
ASTM E2393-10, Standard Practice for On-Site Inspection of Installed Fire Resistive Joint Systems and Perimeter Fire Barriers ($42 from astm.org)http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2393.htm
"Common firestop code violations" - ICC Building Safety Journalhttp://bsj.iccsafe.org/june/features/firestop.html
Top 12 Firestop Inspection Deficiencies (ASTM - JAI)http://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/top_12_firestop_deficiencies_astmpaper_preprint_published_by_ifc.pdf
Repair of Fire-Rated Gypsum Panel Product Systems (GA-225-15)http://www.gypsum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/GA-225-15.pdf
Firestopping: Fortifying the front linehttp://insulation.org/io/articles/firestopping-fortifying-the-front-line/
Firestopping: Fact & Fictionhttp://insulation.org/io/articles/firestopping-fact-fiction/
IFC Recommended Guidelines for Performing Destructive Testing forInstalled Penetration Firestop Systems, Fire-Resistive Joint Systems,or Perimeter Fire Barrier Systemshttp://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/ifc_recommended_guidelines_for_performing_destructive_testing_for_installed_penetration_firestop_systems_final.pdf
Improving Firestopping for HVAC Duct Penetrations in Fire-Rated Wallshttp://insulation.org/io/articles/improving-firestopping-for-hvac-duct-penetrations-in-fire-rated-walls/
Perimeter Fire Containment in Multi-story Buildingshttp://www.firestop.org/files/theme/Perimeter_fire_containment_in_multi-story_buildings.pdf
Understanding the Hose Stream Testhttp://www.firestop.org/uploads/2/4/5/4/24544763/thehosestreamtest.pdf
Protection of Sprinkler Piping Against Damage Where Subject to Earthquakeshttp://www.firestop.org/files/theme/docs/NFPA13seismicprotectionrequirements-clearancearoundsprinklerpipes.pdf
If you discover that one of the web links above is broken and unable to retrieve the specified document, kindly send a notice of this fact to: email@example.com.
Optional Resources (Not On Exam)
FCIA Manual Of Practice (cost = free to $1075, depending on job title and location)http://www.fcia.org/articles/mop.htm
Video: Fire Spread in Curtain walled buildings, UK Loss Prevention Council, Part 1 and Part 2http://www.firestop.org/videos.html
ICC Evaluation Service, "Accreditation Criteria for Special Inspection Agencies, AC291"https://www.iasonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/291-Sep-2017.pdf
Optional Certificate Exam
Set up a test.com account
To take the examination, you will need to set up an account at the exam website (administered by test.com). Be sure to provide a usable e-mail address, as this is where your certificate will be sent after successfully completing the exam. Setting up the account and taking the practice test are free.
Standard Certificate Exam Fee
Re-examination fee, if you fail the
exam and wish to retake it
Payment of Exam Fee
Exam fees are to be paid online when you wish to start the exam. The payment is accomplished using the "PayPal" service, which accepts all major credit cards, or which can use funds drawn directly from your own pre-existing PayPal account (if you have one). You may establish a PayPal account at www.paypal.com prior to taking the exam, although it is not required to take the examination.
You must sign in to the same user account that you created for the first exam attempt in order to be able to use the reduced fee for the 2nd attempt. You will be locked out from being able to re-take the exam for 48 hours after the first failed attempt. This time delay is intended to provide you with the time needed to review the self-study material once again, and to encourage you to do so.
Publish Your Success
If you wish to have the IFC publish your name in an additional list that includes those who have passed the examination AND received firestop product training from at least 4 firestop manufacturers, simply send a clearly scanned copy of your duly completed certificate to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A multiple choice practice test is required prior to taking the exam and can be used as a gauge to help you decide if you are ready to take the exam. It is recommended that you take this practice test after you complete the entire self-study program, as a final gauge of your readiness.
Set up a free account prior to taking the practice test (follow "Take Practice Test" link below).
This will be the same account that you would then use to take the actual exam, so be sure to retain the username and password that you have created.
Attempt the entire test on a timed basis as if you were taking the final exam.
The practice test has 11 questions, and times out after 15 minutes.
Familiarize yourself with the testing process.
Taking the practice test will also allow you to get familiar with the test.com service and how it presents the questions and multiple choice answers, so that you will be fully familiar with the mechanics of the process prior to taking the exam.
Gauge your preparedness for the actual exam.
If you score 90% or better on the practice test, then you are likely ready to take the actual exam. If you score between 70% and 90%, you might want to take some additional time to review the material before taking the exam. If you scored less than 70%, you should consider a second reading of the self-study materials, as you would be highly unlikely to achieve the required 80% correct answers on the exam.
Have you completed the self-study program?Take Practice Test
To upgrade your test certificate to a Premier Certificate
(as required by OSHPD), take a minimum 2-hour product and installation training course from
- Intumescent sealants
- Non-intumescent sealants
- Cast-in place devices
- Intumescent collars
- Wrap strips
- Composite sheets
- Pillows and blocks
- Insulation (forming materials, mineral wool, packing material)
- Firestop devices (e.g. cable pass-through devices)
- Head of wall joint systems
*Your examination success certificate will include the spaces to record this product training.
*If you do not or cannot obtain the hands-on training, your exam certificate nevertheless provides proof that you have passed the online test, and your name will be listed at the IFC website.
*In California, firestop product training can be obtained by contacting the manufacturers representatives listed in the list downloadable here.
*Outside of California, firestop product training should be sought out by finding and reaching out to the local sales contacts for each of the IFC member manufacturers. A list of those manufacturers is available here.
*Firestop product familiarization training will be offered in conjunction to most of the IFC’s How-to-inspect-firestopping seminars, which are offered a few times a year around the US and abroad. To stay informed of when and where those seminars are scheduled, please join our mailing list here.
4-hour IFC-approved training class focusing on firestop products and their installation by an instructor(s) that has (have) received qualified training from at least four firestop manufacturers.
E-mail ProductTraining@firestop.org to inquire about additional, future classes. Let us know the major city closest to you.
*For a list of currently scheduled seminars, go to the firestop.org home page.