Attic fire barrier

I called out the lack of a fire barrier between the garage and the home sharing a common wall with the attic access in the garage. The selling agent called me and said she spoke with our city officials and they do not require a fire barrier if the garage is finished. The scuttle hole is not sealed and is the only entrance to the attic. I’m waiting for a return call from the city official to verify their position. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Clinton, do you have any pictures?

Was there living space above the garage?

Did the garage have 1/2" min. drywall on the walls and ceiling?

There is no living space above the garage and the common wall and ceiling in the garage has been sheet rocked.

Was there a problem with the common wall and what do you mean that the scuttle hole was not sealed, exactly? Do you have a picture of the hatch?

If not, I think I would agree with the agent.

Happy inspecting! :smile:

If the garage’s ceiling is properly fire-rated, you don’t have to go to the roof with the wall separation. However, the hatch should be 45 min fire rated and self-closing so it could not be left open. The agent is correct as long as these rules are met and unless you have some local rules overriding the national standards.

Around here the hatch does not have to be self closing, Simon. Different areas…

Note I said “should” :slight_smile: Do fires spread differently where you live? :face_with_monocle: There is no code here calling for self-closing house<>garage door, either. However, it should still be called out. What happens if someone forgets to close the hatch in your area and there is a fire? People die… are you going to say the code did not require it :thinking: The code, as you know, is the bare minimum… doesn’t cover everything. Having a hole in the ceiling is like having no fire separation. Fire spreads in seconds.

1 Like

Thank you for the input. The hatch is not self closing just a piece of sheetrock resting in the opening.

1 Like

If the hatch is drywalled then that is proper firewall separation

I sure as hell don’t want a self closing hatch in any attic I’m going to venture into.


NFPA 80: Access doors shall be self-closing.

Nobody is forcing you to do anything :slight_smile: When you open the hatch and put your ladder against it, the ladder holds the hatch open, no issue. It is also designed to open from inside. Poor excuse not to have a proper hatch in the garage, but hey it’s not my house, I can only recommend what’s best for safety.

In Phoenix. They require 5/8 Type X drywall on ceiling and adjoining wall to the home. The entry door into the home must be self-closing hinges. The attic access only needs to be 5/8 Type X drywall no self closing hinges are required. If you put in a attic ladder. It is required to be covered with sheet metal


Why not install something that can be used properly and safely.

1 Like

Simon, I agree with you 100%. It is very common in my area to see the access in the garage. And no fire separation in the attic. Over the years City “Code” inspectors allowed this, then for a while they allowed it but it had to be weighted and latched…then they required it to be hinged in a way that it could not be left open (had to be tied open when entering)…Now I see anything thing goes. I have about 3 canned statements to cover what I find. All to explain the problem with most of these “Locally Approved” conditions. All of these advisories I pass along for My Client’s Safety deal with fire separation and also the dangers of CO entering the attic area where in my area of Southern Utah, 90% of the heat/AC ducting is also located in the attic.
In our area there have been instances of CO poisoning and at least two deaths (that I remember) associated with CO coming from the garage and most likely directly from these (city code inspector approved) unsealed attic accesses.