Q: In an EXISTING hospital, when the corridor walls are ALSO a smoke compartment barrier, can the penetrations above the ceiling be sealed with a non-rated sealant or are they required to be treated the same way as a 1-hour rated wall? Please advise.
A: All smoke compartment barriers need to have penetrations sealed with proper fire-rated materials designed for use on fire-rated walls. The reason for this is, while the smoke barrier is not a fire-rated barrier because the doors in the smoke barrier are non-fire-rated, the actual wall that makes up the smoke barrier is a fire-rated wall (1-hour for new construction and 30-minutes for existing construction… see 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 in the 2012 LSC). Since the actual wall of the smoke barrier is required to be fire-rated, all penetrations in that wall need to be sealed using approved fire-rated materials.
Even though section 188.8.131.52 of the 2012 LSC implies that non-rated materials are permitted to seal penetrations in smoke barriers, the occupancy chapters for Healthcare Occupancies over-rides that and requires fire-rated materials for sealing penetrations in a smoke barrier, since they require fire-rated barriers for smoke barriers.
You may be thinking about smoke resistant partitions (such as corridor walls or walls separating an existing hazardous area protected with sprinklers), that are not required to be fire-rated. Those walls may have penetrations sealed with non-fire-rated materials.