Soundproofing and Fireproofing Synergy.

Fireproofing and Soundproofing Synergy

Surprisingly, there is synergy between two disparate building design disciplines, soundproofing (also called noise proofing) and fireproofing. In most situations, architects and builders can achieve cost and performance benefits if they consider both soundproofing and fireproofing design objectives.

Both design disciplines are separate and have their own unique design details and require different expertise. However, there are recognizable similarities that can be used to effectively meeting the design objectives for both soundproofing and fireproofing. What are the similarities?

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The concept and term “soundproofing” or "noise proofing" is explained in another article. I use the term “fireproofing” here somewhat loosely to mean “making compliant with fire code”.

Soundproofing and Fireproofing Similarities in the Design Process.

In principle, noise proofing can be achieved in two distinct steps:

  • First, design objectives are developed by analyzing building use requirements defined by the client , paying special attention to the amount of sound attenuation that is required between the various rooms in the building.
  • Second, building assemblies are selected, based on lab-tested performance documentation, and matched against the required sound attenuation objectives.

Similarly, fireproofing, is achieved in two similar steps:

  • First, the design objectives for fire spread specifications between different parts of the building are determined from applicable building codes.
  • Second, building assemblies are selected, based on lab-tested fire resistance documentation, and matched against the required fire spread objectives.

Soundproofing and Fireproofing Similarities in the Physical Properties of Wall Assemblies.

For good acoustic performance, a partition must be air tight, with no openings, gaps or cracks. This  is also required for proper protection against fire, in order to prevent spread of smoke and flames. For example, an electrical box mounted in a wall assembly should be covered in fire stopping putty to make it air tight. The same putty also mitigates the transfer of noise through the electrical box opening.

Noise Proofing and Fireproofing Similarities in Terms of Purpose.

Not always, but frequently, the need for fireproofing coincides with the need for soundproofing. For example, when constructing a multi-residential building, dwellings must be separated by fire walls to contain a possible fire to a single dwelling. Similarly, good soundproofing is required between dwellings to minimize noise transfer and to prevent neighbours from disturbing each other.

Soundproofing and Fireproofing Similarities in Expert Approach.

Interestingly, there is also a similarity, or a parallel, between approaches used by soundproofing consultants and fireproofing consultants. Both experts have to be familiar with their respective industry specifications.

The fireproofing expert must know the fire code that applies in each jurisdiction. He must also be familiar with the construction methods and assemblies that meet the requirements specified in the fire code for various applications,

The soundproofing expert must know numerous industry specifications for defining and testing acoustic performance of materials. He also must know which construction methods and assemblies meet the specified acoustic performance.

Given the scope of specialized expertise in both disciplines, it is advisable that architects and builders employ the services of consultants in their respective fields. In the Toronto area, the author of this article provides consulting in the soundproofing discipline and The Fire Guy is the independent fire code (fireproofing) consultant also working in the Toronto area.

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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