Fire wall

This is an access to the master bathroom “jacuzzi” tub motor. It is in the wall of the garage. Would there be any reason this is NOT a firewall breech?

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Hi Tom,

in a word, NOPE!! :wink:



Technically, the wall between a garage and a dwelling unit is **not **required to have any particular fire resistance rating, so, again technically, it is not a fire wall. However, the IRC does address “Opening Protection” for openings between the garage and residence, in R309.1 in the 2003 New York version, and that louver doesn’t meet any of the several specifications in the code for the kind of closure required.

In Canada, it may be. We don’t require that the wall be fire rated but that it be airtight with no holes through it so as to stop gas or fumes from entering the home. Any person door (no doors from bedrooms to garage) from the house to the garage must have an auto-closing device installed and be airtight/ weatherstripped.

In the picture, the code official may have to determine if there is any air leakage sites around the tub enclosure; it will be easier for them to call for a gasketed door instead of the heating/ventilation grille.

Good post Brian!!

You are very knowledgeable about the OBC. Why are you not a member of NACHI?

Not True.

Under the International Residential Code there is required a fire-rating of 20 minutes between an attached garage wall and the dwelling.

This is accomplished by way of 1/2" drywall which establishes a 20 minute fire-rating and by having any doors between the garage and dwelling also to be 20 minute fre-rated.

Unless it can be demonstrated that the required access panel cover to the ‘jacuzzi’ is at least 20 minute fire-rated…it is illegal under any IRC Code.

I disagree. In CA, a specific rating is required.

In the IRC, it’s not called a “firewall,” but their intent is clear.

R309.2 Separation Required.

[Commentary] Numerous potential hazards exist within garages because occupants of dwelling units tend to store a variety of hazardous materials there. Along with this and the potential for carbon monoxide build-up within the garage, the IRC requires that the garage be separated from the dwelling unit and the attic with at least 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board or other equivalent material. If a habitable room is above the garage, the separation must be at least 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board or equivalent.

There are two primary reasons for providing an enhanced fire endurance for a garage ceiling located beneath a habitable room. First, a fire occurring in a garage may well go undetected for an extended period prior to activation of a detector or other visual alerting. Second, the inherent fire load and hazardous household activities associated with a garage necessitate this additional level of protection if fire suppression forces are to have a reasonable opportunity to contain a garage fire to the area of origin. [continued. . .]

Tom, I think your question has been answered by others, most the time around here the contractors don’t install access panels of any kind . . . and as I talk with my clients, hardly anyone has uses the “jacuzzi” in there present home . . . I have one in my home without access (lived in home about 8 years now), but I can probably count on both hands the number of times it’s been used . . . I know I’m off subject, sorry, just wanted to type I guess.

Where in the Code is this requirement stated? I can’t find it. It’s not in R309.2 where it could have been if that is what was intended. Again, I’m looking at the 2003 IRC. (not the NY version as I stated earlier…I wish they would make them different colors) In fact, the NY version is amended to specifically require a 3/4 hour fire resistance rating for vertical separations (walls).

To repeat my last post, even though 309.2 does not specifically state the required rating, the intent is clear.

If you back-up to 309.1, you’ll see the requirement for a 20 minute door.

R309.1 Opening protection. Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) in thickness, solid or honeycomb core steel doors not less than 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.

Thank you everyone for your thought provoking input! I guess I was thinking that they could somehow insist the tub enclosure is fire rated, but then I found in my “Code Check” that 2003 IRC 309.2 is summarized:

“Min. 1/2 in. gyp board ON GARAGE SIDE of walls common to house.”

Here is how I wrote it up:

Safety Concern - Improper bath tub access cover. At the time of inspection, no cover was installed but it appears the intended cover is on the floor in front of it. Fire resistive separation between the garage and living space must be maintained on the garage side of the walls common to the house. This cover must be approved fire rated material and installed correctly (sealed) for adequate fire safety protection.

Thanks again!

So… if the garage is drywalled with 1/2 drywall and fire-taped, it’s compliant… What’s the jacuzzi got to do with anything except that the cover was on the floor instead of installed when the inspector arrived?
I don’t see anything to call unless the garage was not drywalled and firetaped, in which case the jacuzzi cover is a breach.

Louvered metal covers are fire rated for about a millisecond Kenton.:wink:

This might help;

Wall Separation - The living area adjacent to the attached garage should be separated with a minimum 1/2 inch gypsum board. This separation is required in order to prevent toxic exhaust gases and gasoline vapors, which are heavier than air, from entering the residence. Therefore, the walls and ceilings that separate the garage from living space must be free of any holes or voids. If the wall adjacent to living space has a door, the door should be installed with a curb, be self-closing, and the weather stripping should provide a tight seal around the door.

Roof Structure - The structural requirements and design of a roof should meet the same criteria

as the residence. Houses built today typically utilize roof trusses, while older housing employed conventional framing, which are rafters and joists. Ceiling structures of garages are frequently modified to accommodate an access panel or disappearing stairs. This may result in improper modification of the joists or trusses. Headers are needed for conventional framing, and if trusses have to be cut, an engineered reinforcement system may be required. Areas over garages are frequently used for storage of personal items; possibly overloading joists or trusses. The garage attic area should be separated from the residence by a firewall, assuming there is access from the garage into the attic area. The roof structure should not be sagging or putting unnecessary pressure on the outside walls. Generally trusses are engineered and braced individually and as a system, and are typically dependable structures. Conventionally built roof systems are also dependable, however, there are workmanship short cuts that may compromise the roof system (i.e. garages may not have any ceiling joists or adequate ceiling joists). This will put considerable pressure on the outside walls. The rafters may be over spanned, or may not have proper collar ties. Check for bowing at the center of the sidewalls and for excessive roof deflections.

Door from the garage to the residence - The interior door should have a tight seal all the way

around to prevent seepage of exhaust or gas fumes. This door should be fire-resistant, such as metal clad or solid core wood. You may also see 1 3/8” hollow core interior doors with a sheet of metal on the garage side. This may be accepted in many areas, however, its fire protection is negligible. As a safety feature, the door should be self-closing. Many municipalities have requirements for fire-rated doors and frames. Because the door should resist a twenty-minute fire, there should be no glass or other openings in the door itself.

Fire Step - The slab of the garage should be a minimum of 4 inches lower than the slab entering the house to reduce the potential of gasoline or exhaust fumes from entering the property.
**Marcel:) :slight_smile:

Did US Inspect just make this Fire Step part up???

The louvered metal cover is betweeen the undertub space and the bathroom space. If the garage is drywalled and firetaped, then the firewall between the garage and living space would be intact. Drywall installed on the garage side of the wall only constitutes as firewall, no?
If all you need is 1/2" firetaped drywall, the drywall could be off the whole bathroom side of the wall without effecting firewall compliance.

I think I surrounded that explanation.

No, the louvered metal cover is between the undertub and the garage. The original photo was taken while standing in the garage.

R309.2 states it as does R309.1. Same in either 2003 or 2006 version.

1/2" gypsum provides a rating of 20 minute fire protection as will a soild wood door of 1 3/8" thickness, solid or honeycomb steel doors not less than 1 3/8" thick, or a 20-minute fire-rated door.

In any case, this access ‘door’ is not 20 minute rated…especially since it has louvred openings…and would be a violation of the required garage separation from the main structure under section R309.

But, but, but… there’s no Louvered metal cover in the firewall, it’s in the side of the jacuzzi. The firewall is the drywall installed on the opposite (garage) side of the wall.

Don’t know Brian about the 4" step part.

Some Jurisdictions require it around here, I believe it is logical to have, but was never able to find any Code requirements on this step if it is mandatory or not.

We have discussed this in the past and never yet have we seen it as a Code requirement.

So if there is a 4" step, good, and if there isn’t we can’t really write it up until we can find a Code reference or a Jurisdiction Amendment to the Adopted Codes.

Marcel :slight_smile: