Garage/dwelling access door

It appears I’ve been wrong in thinking that the garage to dwelling door has to have a fire separation in Canada. What I take from the OBC is that it merely needs to have a vapour seal. Moreover, does anyone know about glass panels in the same door. I’ve called them out over the years, but if the the first rule is true, then a wired glass would be ok I would think. Whats your thoughts/experience?



Canadian codes may differ but the US code is…


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 13/8 inches (35 mm) in thickness, solid or honeycomb core steel doors not less than 13/8 inches (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.

Glass is not considered fire-rated.

Thanks David, yes the US code does appear to be different in this case (and smarter IMHO). In Canada we need the fire separation on the common wall to the dwelling but not the door itself, at least that’s my take on the code.

What good would a fire rated common wall be, if the garage opening (or access door) is not fire rated? This door accesses into a living area.

Doesn’t make sense to me…

You may want to consider the following from the 2006 OBC - where is the fire seperation required? Separation of Storage Garages
**(4) **Where a *storage garage *is attached to or built into a *building *of residential occupancy,
(a) an *air barrier system *conforming to Subsection 9.25.3, shall be installed between the garage and the remainder of the *building *to provide an effective barrier to gas and exhaust fumes, and
(b) every door between the garage and the remainder of the *building *shall conform to Article Doors between Garages and Dwelling Units
**(1) **A door between an attached or built-in garage and a *dwelling unit *shall be tight-fitting and weatherstripped to provide an effective barrier against the passage of gases and exhaust fumes and shall be fitted with a self-closing device.
**(2) **A doorway between an attached or built-in garage and a *dwelling unit *shall not be located in a room intended for sleeping.

C. Lawrenson, OBC Instructor/Facilitator

Why in the world would a home inspector who is free from the minimum basic requirements of code, unlike code enforcers, NOT recommend a fire resistant door between the garage and residence to preserve the life and property of his client?

IMO, this is a question that should never be asked.

Thanks Claude. I’m familiar with these points. As David said, it doesn’t make sense to have, effectively, a partial fire separation by way of the non fire rated door. We have fire separation in the drywall, but not the access door. Odd. I won’t be surprised if I’m missing something in the OBC, but for now it just seems lacking.

Thanks Gents.

James, this is not a question about standards of care. This is simply something I want to know.


Thanks James, no worries

Although I agree with your comments James - it is not uncommon for the other inspectors to note issues with respect to “safety” that would or could have a potential detrimental impact on the client and/or owner.

I typically would look at and comment about the conditions present, is there a gypsum board wall cover on the garage side at least along the common wall to the house that has been taped and at least one coat mudded with joint filler, is there a door closer, is the weatherstripping on the passage door. To me pointing out what is the standard today is at least advising the client of the potential to respect an obvious safety issue.

As noted before - it’s about reducing potential risk and proving due consideration for “standard of care”.

Mark in response the the “fire resistance rating” comment - take a look at SB-2 in volume 2 of the OBC for wall materials, and SB-3 for fire rated assemblies.

There is a difference between fire seperation, fire rating (tested assembly) and fire resistance rating.

Mark you may want to check with the local fire dept, or the Ontario Fire marshal.
Also wire glass in a fire rated door is acceptable if it has a fire label. But i can’t remember if has to be a certain size. Again i am trying to remember 15 to 16 years ago.
Wayne ( former Canuk FF)

[FONT=Arial][size=3]3 Glass[/size][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][size=2]1/4" wire glass and ceramic glass are the most[/size][/FONT]
[size=2][FONT=Arial]common types of glazing used in fire rated[/FONT][/size]
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[size=2][FONT=Arial]the number and maximum size of the vision[/FONT][/size]
[size=2][FONT=Arial]lights used in the door. Table 2 shows the[/FONT][/size]
[size=2][FONT=Arial]limitations of size, area and number of vision
lights in a door. Vision lights are not allowed in
3-hour rated fire doors, unless allowed by the
local authority having jurisdiction. The vision
light kit or window frame must be approved for
use in a fire rated door.


Just for fun… do you know what you have to do to the door between the garage and a bedroom to make it compliant with most codes?

I believe Nick the only way is to build a small room off to directly separate the two. bedrooms cannot have a direct door into the garage

The 2006 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) states the following concerning doors that separate garages from living areas:
R309.1 Opening Penetration
Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and the residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) in thickness, solid- or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.

I don’t Nick. Would he answer apply to Canada as well? Let’s see…

In Canada you are not permitted to have a garage door open directly into a bedroom. As for the windows in a garage access door it is completely okay.

The Ontario Building Code, and the National Building Code (Canadian), exempts the requirement of a fire separation between the garage and home if it is a single family dwelling, as long as it is “fumeproof”. In addition as stated before the door only needs to be weatherstripped with a closure.

The Canadian codes simply recognize that people generally have control over what goes on in there homes and for this reason they exempt the fire separation requirements.

Answer: Make it a wall.