SOURCE: Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

December 07, 2006 16:22 ET

UL Announces New Qualified Contractor Program

NORTHBROOK, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 7, 2006 -- Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) today announced the launch of a new program that allows both firestop and spray-applied fire-resistive material (SFRM) contractors to differentiate themselves in the marketplace through third-party assessment. The new program also provides architects, building owners, material manufacturers and regulatory authorities with a means to identify contractors that have been evaluated by an independent, third-party organization.

UL has been classifying firestops and SFRMs for many years. UL's Fire Resistance Directory is used by many design specifiers to select these materials and systems for construction designs. The Qualified Contractor Program marks the first time that UL has launched a program that assesses installation contractor firms that install fire resistance materials and systems. UL created this program in response to industry requests for third-party, independent evaluation of their knowledge and best practices to differentiate them from other contractors and to increase confidence of architects and regulatory authorities.

"UL's programs include Contractor firms who have demonstrated knowledge and a comprehensive management system that specifically focus on the selection and installation of firestop systems or spray-applied fire resistive materials (SFRMs)," said J. Thomas Chapin, general manager of UL's North American Fire & Security Sector. "The contractor firm systems audited under this program provide an integrated approach -- demonstrated knowledge and management system -- to controlling the processes in addressing architectural, AHJ and customer requirements."

Background

The new Qualified Contractor Program applies to two types of contractors: those who install firestop systems and those who install SFRMs.

--  Firestopping involves providing a measure of fire containment to the
    walls and floors that includes joints, gaps or penetrations made during
    construction. Firestop systems are single materials or a combination of
    materials used to create a firestop assembly capable of limiting the spread
    of heat, fire, gases or smoke through the opening in a wall or floor.
    Specialty firestop contractors must choose and install firestop systems to
    meet architectural, code and customer requirements.
    
--  SFRMs are typically cementitious coating compounds that are installed
    at a prescribed thickness and density to critical building components such
    as beams, columns, floor and roof assemblies, wall partitions and barriers.
    SFRMs are used to insulate structural steel elements from direct
    impingement of a fire and thus, enabling assemblies to obtain fire
    endurance ratings. SFRM contractors must install the SFRM to meet
    architectural, code and customer requirements.
    

Two critical components of the Qualified Contractor Program are that the installation company have:

--  An established management system that is specifically focused on
    the selection and installation of firestops or SFRMs and meets the
    program requirements as determined by UL.
--  A Designated Responsible Individual (DRI) who meets the program
    requirements and is responsible for:
       -  The Management System
       -  Staff Training
       -  Continuing Education Units
To earn qualified contractor status, the DRI must pass a three-hour written exam, and the contractor must pass a UL-administered audit of its management system, both at the contractor's facility and as applied on the job site. Once a contractor meets the requirements, UL will issue a certificate effective for one year. A qualified contractor's company would then be listed in UL's Internet directory.

"A contractor that completes the requirements will be able to promote itself as a UL Qualified Firestop Contractor or UL Qualified SFRM Contractor in its promotional materials," said Chapin. "The benefits of the UL designation are significant. This designation allows a contractor to confirm to its customers that its knowledge and management systems focused specifically on the selection and installation of firestops or SFRMs have been assessed by a leading independent fire safety organization."

For more information about the new Qualified Contractor Program, please visit http://www.ul.com/contractor. If you have any questions about or want to apply for any of UL's Qualified Contractor Programs, please contact Jeannette Torres or Anna Flaherty in Inside Sales at +1-877-UL-HELPS (+1-877-854-3577) or by email at InsideSales@us.ul.com.

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products for more than 110 years. UL tests more than 19,000 types of products annually, and more than 20 billion UL Marks appear on products each year. Worldwide, UL's family of companies and its network of service providers include 62 laboratories, and testing and certification facilities.

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