Made in the USA in Our Own Factory
Mike Tobias Sr. started cabling for computers back in 1983 when coaxial cable carried network data. IBM had just introduced Token Ring topology and 803.2 thin Ethernet was the rage. His first company, Coastal Computer Connections, was incorporated for the purpose of installing these new methods of computer networking. The company grew to six locations in Alabama and Florida by 1996 with over 30 installation crews.
Along the way, Mike encountered the same kinds of firewall issues cable installers face today and out of sheer desperation for something that worked, he began to invent firestop products. Two of his original inventions, the Smooth Firestop Sleeve and the Split Sleeve Firestop System were issued patents and became the prototypes for most of the competitive firestop sleeves on the market today. But don’t be fooled by lower quality imitations. Still manufactured in the USA in our own factory, we guarantee the highest quality fit and finish on the market. Our original Sleeve Systems are widely copied, but never imitated.
How We Got Started in the Firestop Business, by Mike Tobias
“While servicing a new hospital customer, a problem (opportunity in disguise) arose in one of the buildings we were cabling. A previous contractor had taken a claw hammer to the firewalls breached by the hospital’s fiber optic system. Here is what happened:
I had been in the data cabling business for many years. Our small company’s installation crews were faced with firewall penetrations every day. We learned about the importance of sleeving and sealing firewalls, as a third party, in a showdown between an inspector and the hospital. They had until ‘high noon’ on the third day to correct firewall violations made by their previous installation contractor’s claw hammer approach. The cables in question happened to be the fiber optic backbone for the local area network. These cables ran the emergency room, intensive care, and hospital administration, to name just a few of the affected departments. Removal, sleeving, and reinstallation was not only impractical, but impossible if the hospital was to continue to function. Panic was setting in for us, the new contractor, as well as for the hospital.
While the crisis team focused on the logistics of moving patients and acquiring temporary connections for the retrofit, we took a different approach. It was clear that the inspector wanted metallic conduit to be installed ‘through’ the wall and sealed at entry and exit. Our first reaction was to approach the existing ‘fire stop experts’. We looked at pillows, putty, caulk, and other kinds of expensive solutions, all of which stopped short of our need. What we needed was a ‘split sleeve’.
Problem Solved. Split Sleeve Patent Issued.
Rather than waste more time trying to find a ready-made solution, we decided to create our own. We took a two-inch threaded metal conduit, cut it in half down its axis, and placed it through the firewall and around the cables. A pair of slotted square washers was worked over the cables and caulked to each side of the firewall with the slots turned 180 degrees from each other. A two-inch coupler was then slotted and screwed down the sleeve. The procedure was repeated for the other side of the firewall. With a little caulk behind the washers and some putty stuffed in the split sleeve around the cable, the hospital’s firewall passed inspection. Once we had a metallic conduit installed around the cables, the inspector, the crisis team, and a very weary, but happy, hospital administration went home. We went back to the drawing board. A patent was initiated, and after a survey of inspectors, we were convinced that our Split Sleeve System would effectively solve the problem of critical cable removal due to the installer violating the barrier. A patent on the Split Sleeve System was awarded in 1997 and UL has it listed in its Fire Resistance Directory. In 1998 we were also issued a patent for our Smooth Firestop Sleeve System.”
Before and After UNIQUE Split Sleeve Firestop System
This is a typical example of a breach in a firewall. Note in the Before photo the many types of cables going through a firewall and effectively destroying its firewall rating. In the After photo, the problem has been solved with our Split Sleeve Firestop System. The firewall rating has been restored, the Inspector has given approval, and the building’s occupants are safe behind the firewall for a longer period of time in the event of a fire.