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When broaching the construction of a new building, industry experts are challenged to consider all aspects of construction: cost-effectiveness, sustainability, security, safety, comfort, accessibility, functionality, serviceability, and aesthetics. One of the biggest safety considerations is how well the building will resist and contain a fire. The degree of fire resistance required depends on the use of the building, the amount of occupancy, as well as its proximity to property lines and established fire zones. Multi-use or multi-occupancy buildings such as apartments, schools, warehouses, and hospitals require a higher level of fire resistance and fire containment. During fires, precast concrete walls help provide protection to human life, occupant possessions, and the structure itself. Precast concrete is inherently non-combustible and is therefore useful to contain a fire within minimal boundaries. As a separation wall, precast concrete inhibits fire spread throughout a multi-use building or between structures. Precast concrete can be designed to meet a variety of fire resistance requirements. The fire resistance of precast concrete walls is determined by the American Society for Testing &
Materials (ASTM) E119, defining the procedures and determining the fire endurance of building materials. Concrete cover, as specified in ACI 318 for durability, will be sufficient for fire ratings up to 4 hours. The durability of walls depends greatly on the thickness and aggregate type in the concrete mixture and can be customized upon production.
Insulated Sandwich Walls have continuous (edge-to-edge) insulating foam materials between the two wythes of concrete. This non-combustible shielding layer provides superior insulation, lowering heating and cooling costs while eliminating any chance of spreading toxic fumes as it remains completely encased in precast concrete.
Further providing safety, Insulated Sandwich Walls can be load bearing or supporting. They provide an economical option that is resistant to wind, seismic or blast loads, and fire spread.
Better yet, insurance rates are commonly substantially lower for buildings that utilize high fire resistant materials such as Insulated Sandwich Walls.
The use of Insulated Sandwich Walls provides an array of benefits: energy efficiency, lower cost, low maintenance, high functionality, high performance for multi-purpose or high occupancy buildings while remaining one of the best options for fire resistance and containment.
Jennifer Schaff has a master’s degree from Michigan Technological University emphasizing geotechnical and water resources. Prior to joining County Materials in 2016, Jennifer worked as a consulting engineer for more than 18 years on site/municipal projects with a heavy focus on storm water management. Jennifer uses her technical skills to support the concrete pipe industry by educating engineers and municipal leaders about the vital role fulfilled by reinforced concrete pipe products for America’s network of sanitary and storm sewers and culverts.
Jennifer was asked to share what she loves about the industry and engineering in general, in hopes that her story will inspire more women to discover a rewarding career in engineering and concrete product manufacturing.
Q: If you were talking to a group of high school girls, what would you say to encourage them to become an engineer involved in the concrete construction industry?
J: Don’t listen to the people who may try to discourage you! Set your goals and visualize them coming to life in detail. Continue this as a nightly practice before bed and greet each morning with gratitude.
Q: What skills are important for engineers to possess?
J: We can communicate much more effectively with pictures and graphics. Typically, engineers try to convey their ideas in lots of text. However, the complexity of projects we design and the vital messages we want to share with the public are best conveyed in easy, understandable terms. That way people relate to concrete pipe’s value in promoting safety, sustainability and lasting performance for local communities.
We are proud of Jennifer’s contributions to our company and industry. Jennifer was highlighted by the American Concrete Pipe Association during International Women’s Day on March 8, 2020. The American Concrete Pipe Association celebrates women who help make the concrete pipe industry as strong as the products we produce. For the full story, click here:
In early February 2020, County Materials donated two truckloads of pipe and precast structures to the Wisconsin Operating Engineers Local 139, in Coloma, WI. This donation provides the opportunity for engineers and construction professionals from across the state of Wisconsin to participate in hands-on training operating heavy equipment and installing concrete pipe and precast products. Trainees is this program are better prepared to work safely and efficiently on the job by using real-world training exercises.
The Local 139 Operating Engineers apprenticeship program is one of the largest of its kind in North America, training more than 200 workers per day to operate heavy machinery. The organization’s mission is to train workers across the state to create safer job site conditions and reduce injuries. The Joseph J. Goetz training site in Coloma gives workers access to nearly 400 acres to hone their skills.
The donated precast structures from County Materials are primarily used in the organization’s Advanced Sewer and Excavation Courses, where trainees work to excavate, install, and remove the structures in exercises modeled after actual construction projects.
“By having materials here, we can create real-life situations that the members will be actually doing in the field. It’s instrumental to a trainee’s success in finding a job, performing their job well, and maintaining safety,” said Ken Miller, an instructor for the Local 139. “We can’t say thank you enough for these donations and County Materials’ commitment to the industry.”
Below you will find information on seminars currently scheduled. Select an event for any related registration information. Check back periodically for updates and new seminars.