garage fire seperation

Inspected a house today here in florida built in 88’. Garage man door was not fire rated, just hollow core. Trying to detemine when the fire seperation became a requirement here in fl, having trouble finding that. Any input is appreciated.

Question for you…

When your client’s garage catches fire and the flames are beginning to lick at the hollow core door…will they recognize that the hollow core door was “code” at the time the house was built and decide to burn it a little slower to give the occupants more time to escape?

Are you being paid to do a home inspection and report upon the current condition of the dwelling unit … or interpret code for your client?

Sorry for the sarcasm, but this is an old topic that keeps resurfacing. You are inspecting the home with the knowledge you have, today. Just because I was born before the Surgeon General published a warning on the cigarette pack does not make it safe for me to smoke.

Thanks for the advice here. I’m being paid to report the current condition of the dwelling unit - not interpret code. I value the advice on this board and deserved that bit of sarcasm. Thanks again.

UBC 1927 4304.a.6 required self-closing metal clad door.
In 1935 it was revised self closing solid core 1 3/8th tight fitting door (UBC 503.a).

This is related to the door-to-dwelling.

I do quote code when someone asks. Helps with credibility.

As a former code inspector, I disagree that there is “credibility” for anyone other than the person tasked to interpret it to “quote” code…for all that they are “quoting” is what they think it means.

It may have been interpreted differently at the time the system you are observing was installed by the AHJ that approved it. The same guy, today, may have a totally different view if he were to observe it in its condition 15 years later. Often, during plan reviews, contractors are allowed to deviate from a variety of “code” requirements with an engineer’s seal on the modified plans.

Important to note is also the fact that…although the 2002 NEC had a variety of different changes from the previous editions…the jurisdiction that you are inspecting in may not have adopted it until 2008, if at all. Going by “what date” that such-and-such entered a particular code book is a meaningless act since the area that you are inspecting may not have adopted it until years later, if at all.

Let those who are handcuffed to the limitations of a code book be held back by it. As a home inspector, advise your client on the conditions as they exist and the means that are available, today, to make them better or safer. You don’t need to strive to “look” credible. Instead, “be” credible and “be” relevant.

There is nothing “credible” about quoting code “violations” on a project that has been reviewed and approved by the local authorities. Instead of “quoting” code…if you doubt that a system has been approved and you are afraid to piss off the real estate salesman with your own judgment call, simply advise your client to do a permit search and obtain documented evidence of the approved deviation from accepted building practices.

Unless your inspection and opinion is based on building codes, best building practices and guidelines, installation instructions, EPA, CDC and CPSC. These are my inspection guides and is how I have chosen to inspect and report for my clients best interest. It doesn’t work for everyone.

Just ask yourself how can a particular issue affect my client and/or those that come onto his premise. Home inspectors either often quote code (when they shouldn’t ~ doesn’t mean your not familiar with same) or they grandfather everything in without regards to safety.

I know some if not many of the things an HI calls out may be subjective but ask yourself is it reasonable.

Case in point.
While pumping gas yesterday I had an Electrical Contractor approach me and ask about why HI’s are stating that older homes with two wire systems (non-grounded) should be brought up to date… I advised them that HI’s should simply report the type and condition of the system along with any safety issues at hand…in his particular case telling a client that the whole electrical system needed replacing simply because the home was ungrounded was ridiculous.

Unfortunately this electrical contractor got stiffed for over $1500.00 when the repairs he made were not inline with what the HI called for. Here you have an HI telling an Electrical Contractor how to do his job and the client bought into it.

I personally would have filed a complaint with the state HI board and turned around and sued the agent that hired him to make the repairs and put a lien on the home.

For the most part, James is correct. Clear Creek, CO (a county in the foothills out of Denver, with an AHJ never swinging a hammer and knowing little of what she speaks), adpted the IRC 2006 in Feb. 2010. Up till then they have been on 2003. Citing code on a house built in 2009 would be a waste of time. I agree, it helps to know the code (particularly when argueing with tradesmen that are trying to throw you under the bus), it really has no place in the inspection.


Heaven forbid I am ever called as an expert witness in a case against you over your interpretation of a building code.

Especially if you “miss” something code related.

You have created an untennable situation for yourself; a virtual “lose-lose”.

If someone hires you to perform a code-based inspection, or you advertise yourself as being code certified, and your opinion fails to match that of the actual building inspector, you are finished.

The fact of the matter is that you are NOT the AHJ, and your opinions as to code-related matters are, unfortunately, legally regarded as unqualified and unfounded.


How about this:

I didnt quite a single building code. My words are understandable, and concise. They neither minimize nor maximize the conditions obeserved.

Joe, I could not disagree with more. In fact I have had many a conversion that started with “I’m going to sue you”. By the end of the conversion I have stated where I get my standards from and I send them the actual code, installation instructions, recall notice or what ever. Shuts them down every time.

Since I have an intimate knowledge of most codes going back to the early electrical codes and the first UBC, plumbing and mechanical codes. I know what was required and when. My inspection of a home is based on codes enforce at the time the home was built every thing else is an upgrade. Here it is not difficult as we have just one building department covering my entire area.

In the OP he asked when was it code. I gave him the year and the code. I do not quote code in my report but I feel if you call out something, you better back it up other than saying I think it would be a good idea.


Well worded Joe, Thanks. I especially like the “neither minimize nor maximize the conditions observed” that you mentioned. That’s what I’m shooting for when I document a defect, but it does take some practice. Very easy to maximize something if I’m not careful.

I like Joe’s write up, but it might be deceiving in the expectation that all garage wall and home have to be 1 hour rated.
Most standard wall construction on homes and attached garages have a 1/2" drywall on both sides.
That does not give you a 1 hour rated assembly.
5/8" drywall does.

Therefore, that assembly is a fire separation and not a 1 hour rated assembly.

Since it is a fire separation, a rated 20 minute door suffices to meet this criteria, which by coincidence matches the requirement of the code.

[FONT=Arial][size=2][FONT=Verdana]Doors are rated for three-fourths of the rating
of the surrounding wall. [size=2][size=2]However, a door with a higher fire rating than
the opening may also be used.

The minimum rating of doors labeled as 20 minutes is also used in 1 hour rated walls[FONT=Arial][size=1][FONT=Arial][size=1]
[FONT=Verdana][size=2]These openings are in corridors where smoke and draft control
is required. The minimum wall rating is 1 hour.
Therefore the role of the rated door assembly in garage to home would be adequate with a 20 minute door since it is appropriate to meet the rating of the fire wall separation rating.

Of course, as we all know, there is nothing that prevents us from recommending above and beyond the minimum requirements of the building codes. Codes are minimum.

It comes down to what is legal and what is adequate.

In one hour walls, 45 min. rated doors are used, the rating is also reflected in the price of the door also.

Inspector recommends ensuring that a 1-hour burn-through rating be maintained between the garage interior and any adjoining living space. This includes the entry door from the dwelling into the garage, itself. Typically, these doors should be fire-rated, and have an automatic closer. The door in the subject dwelling, appears to be a simple hollow-core wooden dore, which does not meet this classification nor does it include an automatic closing mechanism. Replacement of this door, and the installation of an appropriate closing mechanism for the purpose, is strongly recommended.

Joe, I used this today…I hope you don’t mind…

can i put this in my template

Thank you

What if your juristiction requirs 1 1/2 or even 2 hour rated?
I just take a picture of the door where the fire rated plate should be and tell them this may not be a fire rated door that gives you proper protection till the firemen come. As far as being a hollow core there is no way to determine the fire rating unless you put a blow torch to the door.
This is not in the standards of practice but may be in Mike Holmes or other organizations.:smiley:

Are you recommending fire rated doors? Is that in the Ontario codes for garages in residences?

Many municipalities here have adopted there own code requirements for resale.
(up to 90 minute for doors)
Since no standard, I just note the hollow core door and recommend repair / upgrade in accordance with municipal requirement.

If I had it my way I would change the codes for Ontario.
20 Minutes is not even close to what I would recommend.
Don’t forget that I do not and never will support the Ontario codes.:neutral:

After an investigation by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office and Cobourg Fire Department, the building’s owners are facing five charges:

  • Count 1. Being the owner, permitted the accumulation of combustible materials in part of a means of egress. Combustible materials stored in hallway
  • Count 2. Failed to maintain a means of egress free from obstructions. Obstructions were the combustibles in the hallway
  • Count 3. Failed to keep fire escape free from snow or ice.
  • Count 4. Failed to protect door openings with closures having a 20-minute fire protection rating and equipped with self-closing devices. Didn’t have proper fire rated doors under the Ontario Fire Code
  • Count 5. Failed to protect window openings in accordance with the Ontario Fire Code. Didn’t have proper fire rated windows under the Ontario Fire Code.
    “Stemming from an inspection it was determined there were apparent fire code violations,” Cobourg Fire Captain Aaron Blair said.
    "From the investigation I think it was a miracle that no one [FONT=Verdana][/FONT]
    was injured or killed.:mad:


What is the code in Ontario for fire separation of garages in/attached to residences?