Lighting fixtures and other devices installed in a dropped ceiling are required to be firmly secured to the dropped ceiling framework. In the event of a fire above a dropped ceiling it is often necessary for firemen to have to pull down the ceiling in a hurry to quickly gain access to the conflagration. Loose fixtures merely resting in the framework by force of gravity can become unseated and swing down on their armorflex power cables to hit the firemen below. Binding the fixtures to the framework assures that if the framework must be pulled down the fixture will come down with it and not become a pendulous swinging hazard to the firemen.
An older, less common type of dropped ceiling is the concealed grid system. This type of dropped ceiling employs a method of interlocking panels into each other and the grid with the use of small strips of metal called 'splines', thus making it difficult to remove panels to gain access above the ceiling without damaging the installation or the panels. Normally, these type of ceilings will have a "key panel" (usually in the corner) which can be removed, allowing for the other panels to be slid out of the grid (a series of metal channels called 'z bars') one by one, until eventually removing the desired panel. This type of ceiling is more commonly found in older installations or installations where access to above the ceiling is generally considered unnecessary.
A dropped ceiling is a secondary ceiling, hung below the main (structural) ceiling. It may also be referred to as a drop ceiling, T-bar ceiling, false ceiling, suspended ceiling, grid ceiling, drop in ceiling, drop out ceiling, or ceiling tiles and is a staple of modern construction and architecture in both residential and commercial applications.
In earthquake prone areas (e.g., California) diagonal wire stays are often required by building codes in order to ensure the ceiling grid won't sway laterally during an earthquake, which can lead to partial or total collapse of the ceiling grid on the occupants below during a severe tremor. Compression posts may also be added to keep the ceiling from bouncing vertically during an earthquake.
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