Fire seperation

On a single family home (ranch), with attached garage, does there have to be fire seperation (party wall) between garage attic and main attic? I think it does, but I’ve got a mental block on this.:slight_smile: Thanks guys!!

Hi John,

Yes, either the common wall has to be a fire rated assembly from flloor to roof, or the garage should be a complete fire rated assembly itself including all walls and ceilings.



We see many homes built in the 60’s and earlier that have open ceilings in the attached garages w/0 any kind of firewall separation in the attic. I always write it up and explain the potential problem and stress to the buyers to consider options to closing off the open attic. If a fire breaks out in the garage, which is very likely due to many here in Florida keeping generators, spare gas, lawn equipment, etc. an open attic is like a giant chimney. Fire will spread thru the attic like grease thru a goose. Gives me the creeps every time I find one of those open ceilings. I just did one and the couple had already made plans to finish it off and enclose the ceiling before even moving in.

I thought so. Thanks a lot!!

Back in the winter there was a fire on the street that I live. The owners, not thinking, decided that it would be a good idea to use their central vac to suck up the ashes from their fireplace:shock: . The canister, which was located in the attached garage, exploded, with the ensuing fire destoying the garage. Fortunately for the owners, there was only some smoke damage in the laundry room through the door leading to the the garage. The fire separation saved their house. The garage is in the process of being rebuilt right now.
(I wish I could attach some pictures, but everytime I try to, the computer freezes up)

Hi to all,

the biggest single problem is see down here is pulldown stairs which are not fire rated installed in the garage ceilings.



And they are in 98% of the houses, including the ones being built right now. The AHJ says nothing about them, either. :roll:

Saw an attached garrage no fire barier at all (just the studs) and a sprinkler system.

This was on a sort of split level with the garage under two bed rooms

I noted it as an issue and the owner said that it was cheaper to build it that way. They were the original owners

Most of these issues were approved when built so for us to note it is sort of like the horse and barn deal


Wall surfaces that separate a garage from a dwelling are required to comply with one-hour fire-rated construction standards. When this firewall does not extend into the attic, that is, when the garage attic is not separated from the house attic, then the garage ceiling becomes part of the required garage firewall.

Homeowners, typically unaware of such requirements, often violate this fire separation by installing a folding ladder (as Gerry stated) as an attic access. Such fire safety violations are commonly disclosed by home inspectors. Fortunately, there are three practical solutions to the problem:

1) You can eliminate the access by covering the opening with 5/8-inch fire-rated drywall. Unfortunately, this also eliminates the valuable storage space in the garage attic.

2) You can construct a firewall in the attic, separating the garage attic from the house attic. In most cases, the framing for this wall is already partially or completely in place. Once the framing is complete, just apply 5/8inch fire-rated drywall and tape the joints.

3) The manufacturers of some folding ladders make kits for retrofitting their ladders to comply with fire separation requirements. Just check the label on the ladder and contact the manufacturer to see if a fire door upgrade kit is available.

I also write them up every time Gerry.:slight_smile:

Good topic;

If one wants to have an accessible attic in the garage with a pull down stair, please close of the attic space between the garage attic and the house attic with a layer of 5/8" type x or c to the framing members at that deliniation area.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


I note and report the condition on every inspection.

Some Municipalities in PA require removal. Some do not take note as it does not factor into the U&O and/or C of O Inspection process.

Condition is however noted in the HI Report.

The burden is then placed upon the Home Buyer as to the extent of Safety and/or Urgency that is placed to make the repair.

If the garage does not have a folding ladder, it is likely to have a scuttle hole with a cover made from gypsum. However, the cover is held up by wood trim around the four sides. When the fire hits the trim it quickly burns off and lets the gypsum cover fall out providing a chimney into the attic. I’d bet that it’s just as fast as a folding door burning thru.

A lot of truth to that, and conceiveablly, it would be prudent to have the drywall extend within the 22"x 30" opening by 1/2" capped with j-moulding edge and lay an insulated drywall panel on it. Then, I would suspect, that you could call it the same rating as the surrounds. Just my pennies worth again. ha. ha.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Sorry as this is not a reply but a question. I’m trying to locate specifications for fire rated doors. Mainly, I would like to know what the preferred exterior component of the door could or should be made of. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks A.J.

Fire Rated Doors. :smiley:

A.J., Visit your local lumber yard. Most doors are rated for a mimimum of 20 minutes, beyound that goes in to specialty doors that could be rated to between 20 minutes to 3 hours. Dependant on your need.

Marcel :slight_smile:

Thank you for the helpfull information. A.J.

Can a fire door be made out of wood with no steel cladding?

Go to the code book, it clearly states what a fire rated door is.

Roy Bailey
All Pro Home Inspections