Insulation, Firestopping, and Fireproofing

Adler

Twenty-nine years and counting, a company that works. With offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, Adler Insulation Ltd. and Adler Firestopping Ltd. are among the largest commercial providers of mechanical insulation and structural fire protection in Western Canada.

Experts in the fields of mechanical insulation, firestopping and fireproofing, Adler Firestopping Ltd. is one of only a few ULC qualified firestop contractors in the western provinces and Northern Territories.

What started as a mechanical installation company local to Edmonton has now branched out into two companies that encompass three interrelated disciplines: mechanical insulation, firestopping and fireproofing across Western and Northern Canada.

The insulation division of the business was founded in 1984. Adler Insulation 2005 Ltd. provides full service insulation to mechanical contractors and sheet metal contractors. This kind of work is comprised of pipe insulation, duct work, canvassing, PVC jacketing, etc. By providing a variety of insulation services in one package, Adler tries to give its clients a cost savings that enables the success of their project.

Adler Firestopping Ltd. was started as a complement to Adler Insulation to provide coverage in the passive fire protection scopes of work. Passive fire protection involves making structures or materials more resistant to fire. It may involve applying fire resistant rated coatings or the compartmentalization of the building with fire-resistance rated walls and floor assemblies to slow the spread of a fire and limit damage. Passive fire protection has two main scopes of work: firestopping and fireproofing.

Firestopping is a fire protection system that involves the sealing of openings in a fire-resistance rated wall or floor. Openings can be anything from joints where walls and floors meet to holes cut through to permit plumbing or electrical conduits. Firestopping contractors must fill these openings, throughout the construction process, with fire-resistant materials to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through an otherwise resistant barrier. One challenge for Adler Firestopping is that some contractors are simply not aware of how complex structural fire protection is. The industry is slowly changing as greater emphasis on life safety by inspectors is occurring. There have been several notorious buildings in western Canada that have been condemned due to failed firestop systems. Firestopping is not a large component in the overall scheme of construction (it usually encompasses less than one percent of the overall building cost) and can easily be overlooked when planning and executing a project. “Collaborative scheduling with clients is crucial to any projects future success,” explains Joe Chinyavong, the Business Development Manager and liaison for conducting the client training. Adler has embarked upon an education campaign to help contractors and architects better understand the logistics and regulations involved in the passive fire protection industry. “We provide added value by educating clients about the risks assumed by whoever performs the firestopping,” Mr. Chinyavong explains. “There are significant risks if a contractor does not have a full understanding of firestopping designs and regulations that can affect occupancy and, ultimately, the safety of the residents of the building.”

In order to provide uniform adherence to the building code and correct application and installation of firestop systems, the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), a worldwide independent safety science company, has developed a quality assurance program to qualify and monitor firestop contractors to ensure standards within the industry are upheld. As one of a few accredited ULC qualified firestop contractors in Western Canada, Adler is audited on a yearly basis ensuring continued best practices and compliance with ULC standards. The recent UL audit states: Adler Firestopping has made significant improvements to their Quality Management System and is continually in the process of adding opportunities and correcting deficiencies. “Contractors will never be perfect but in our training sessions, we encourage using a ULC firestop contractor to mitigate those risks,” says Mr. Chinyavong. “More and more frequently contract specifications are indicating that a ULC qualified firestop contractor is necessary for the project. The industry is continually raising the standards as there is more awareness in the marketplace about passive fire protection.”

Adler Firestopping Ltd. also applies fireproofing. “We use intumescent and cementitious fireproof coatings to protect structural steel for commercial and industrial projects,” explains Reg Cruickshank, Fireproofing Manager. “The fireproof coating insulates the steel, making it more resistant to rising temperatures from the fire. This helps to keep the structure’s integrity from becoming compromised by the heat for a longer period of time thus allowing people to evacuate affected structures and potentially reducing structural damage.” A protected structure is also safer for emergency service personnel.

The two main types of fireproofing are intumescent and cementitious. Cementitious coating, a layer of gypsum based plaster containing additives to reduce its density, can be used as part of a passive fire protection system to achieve the fire resistance rating required. Intumescent coatings swell (kind of like a marshmallow when it burns) when exposed to extreme heat. The intumescent coating increases in volume and decreases in density, resulting in an effective insulating layer to protect the structure. “To ensure our ability to meet complex and challenging applications we have built strategic relationships with our suppliers to be able to provide a variety of solutions for our clients,” states Cruickshank. “We have also met extreme environments in the far north to extreme heat and humidity in the south and have still been able to provide the quality and timeliness required by our customers”. Adler’s fireproofing division has expanded into the industrial sector and expects to grow significantly through the next few years.

Trends in this business can be difficult to predict, and Adler is at the whim of the construction industry in Canada. Adler has had to position itself wisely in the marketplace and constantly monitor building trends. “The future of the construction industry in the west looks very promising, and a lot of work is coming down the pipeline,” says Mr. Chinyavong. “However this is cautious optimism because presently, for numerous reasons, investors and developers have delayed commercial and industrial projects. The tipping point is near and projects will start to be released. There has already been increased activity this fall 2013.”

In spite of this projected growth in activity, Adler remains professional enough to recognize its limitations as opposed to taking on too much. “Sometimes the best jobs are the ones we say ‘no’ to,” says Randy Perry, General Manager of Adler Firestopping. “We have built a reliable brand and industry credibility through our performance. Adler strives to get things done on schedule and meet our clients’ budget needs.” Mr. Chinyavong says, “The more we engage with our customers, the clearer things become as to what is important to them. We know which direction we are heading in regards to our industry and what we should be doing as a sub-contractor to effectively serve our clients.” Adler is determined to grow at a steady, sustainable pace to ensure that they always provide value and assurance for their customers.

New technologies are being used to keep Adler at the top of its game and connected to its customers. Employees in the field use apps that use real-time information for shop drawings, systems, scheduling and materials. Adler has also acquired high output sprayers for fireproofing, giving it greater efficiency and helping to meet its clients’ scheduling needs.

For clearer communication with clients, Adler launched its new website at the end of July. “The old website was out of date with simple information. Now we have information that is very useful to our clients like industry news and videos, what projects we are working on, and most importantly it captures our culture and identity.” The company uses social media to connect its corporate culture to all employees and so that its clients can connect, be informed on market news/trends, professional development (LinkedIn) and send feedback, whether from the field, estimating or at the project management level. The communication is dynamic and constantly being refined – “It is a work in progress and will constantly change depending on what information is of value to our clients.”

The primary reason for the strength and success of Adler is due to the culture and team they have built over twenty-nine years. The professionalism of Adler’s employees, whom the management values as highly as they do their clients, is reflected by the many positive comments from their customers. “Adler’s goal is to create an atmosphere where you are able to grow as a person,” shares Bob Frohlich, HR Director. “Here you are valued, not just for what you can do, but for who you are. If you value your workforce and provide them the support they need anything is possible.” The company has set out to create a great place to work which has translated into a company that works.

December 16, 2017, 11:20 PM EST

Critical Thinking

It’s something all of us could do without in our lives. Unfortunately, this crippling beast decides to rear its ugly head when and how it chooses. There is no individual, society, or country immune to its devastating presence. Neither are organizations, most of which have or most likely will have, to stare this beast in the face. Its name is ‘Crisis’ from the Greek word ‘Krisis’, meaning ‘decisive moment.’