Why & How We Designed a One-Hour Fire-Rated Wall: Behind the Scenes

When STARC Systems launched its first product in 2014, we brought to life the industry’s most innovative, durable temporary dust barrier and containment system – RealWall™. It was an exciting time because we knew we were onto something. LiteBarrier™, our reusable modular wall system, quickly followed suit. It impressed contractors out of the gate with its slim, lightweight profile and fiberglass-reinforced polymer panels.

Making the Case for FireblockWall™

Today, RealWall stands as the premier modular wall solution on the market because it reduces renovation noise by up to 50% while exceeding ICRA Class IV and ASTM E84 requirements. And LiteBarrier, which also exceeds ICRA Class IV and ASTM E84 requirements, continues to hold its own as a great looking lower-priced solution for projects requiring a temporary partition with door.

Although we’ve been thrilled with the success of our flagship products and accessories, one oversight has nagged at us since the early days: the industry’s lack of a one-hour fire-rated, reusable temporary containment option for contractors and facilities managers.

Clearly, there was a distinct need for such a solution in the marketplace. Customers have requested a one-hour fire-rated product since day-one. And although competing companies occasionally talked about bringing a one-hour fire-rated solution to market, no one delivered.

Not Just a Product – a Solution

STARC Systems serves a range of commercial markets, but our core focus is healthcare – one of the most heavily regulated industries of all.

If something goes wrong during a healthcare renovation and the Joint Commission, State Inspector or Fire Marshall investigates, it falls on the facility manager to explain what happened. Knowing this, we decided to draw heavily on input from facilities managers and contractors when developing FireblockWall™, the industry’s first modular reusable one-hour fire-rated temporary containment system.

It was created under control quality conditions in a factory, where we are required to meet all of the applicable construction standards. If our quality systems failed to maintain the design point within tolerances, we couldn't accept or ship the product. The quality system itself is audited by our listing agency, Intertek, which performs quarterly reviews to ensure we're doing things the way we should be.

FireblockWall spent four years in research and development undergoing stringent testing procedures. Its arrival to market illustrates one more way modular temporary containment solutions are driving innovation, especially for occupied renovations.

Built to Impress (And Last)

Assembled from the floor to the deck above, FireblockWall employs perimeter tracks and specially designed panels that include pre-designed negative air panels, doors and supporting components. Additional benefits include:

  • Installation with only one inspection required.
  • Fast installation with minimal labor. An easy four-step process enables two laborers to install a 10’ x 15’ corner room in 90 minutes – approximately four times faster than traditional drywall. It eliminates the need for taping, mudding, sanding, painting and clean-up, as well as the associated trades.
  • Exceeding ASTM E119 and E84 requirements, as well as ICRA Class IV, a designation stating that hospitals must “construct barriers to prevent dust and dangerous pathogens from entering patient care areas and ensure that barriers are impermeable to fungal spores and in compliance with local fire codes.”
  • Superior noise-blocking. With an STC rating of 40, FireblockWall is 65% quieter than any other temporary containment system on the market.
  • Negative air panel promotes easy air management, preventing dust from contaminating the area. If temperatures exceed 165 degrees, the damper automatically closes.
  • Shortened project durations.
  • Durable panels can be reused dozens of times.
  • A lower carbon footprint, producing none of the debris and waste that accompanies drywall.

Bottom Line

The availability of an industry-first, one-hour fire-rated system means contractors and facilities managers finally have a viable alternative to the outdated go-to solutions for temporary containment: drywall and polycarbonate.

Fast, easy, flexible, durable, reusable and safe, FireblockWall is redefining what’s possible with a pre-engineered solution. By removing the inspection cycles and the requirements of on-site stick-built construction, contractors and facilities managers are now able to expedite the installation and take-down of temporary containment, removing weeks from their program schedules in the process.

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