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    Dwelling/garge fire separation

    Dwelling/garge fire separation

    New postby Rick Vernon on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:24 pm

    Jerry, do you know if this requirement was in effect 25 years ago?
    IRC 2009 R302.6 table R302.6
    Rick Vernon
     
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    Re: Dwelling/garage fire separation

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:58 am

    Hi Rick,

    Rick Vernon wrote:Jerry, do you know if this requirement was in effect 25 years ago?
    IRC 2009 R302.6 table R302.6


    From the 2009 IRC.
    - R302.6 Dwelling/garage fire separation. The garage shall be separated as required by Table R302.6. Openings in garage walls shall comply with Section R302.5. This provision does not apply to garage walls that are perpendicular to the adjacent dwelling unit wall.
    2009_IRC_Table_302_6.jpg


    The first IRC was in 2000, as were the first other ICC codes. The ICC (International Code Council) was formed when the other model code agencies joined together to assimilate their respective codes into one national (international) code.

    Thus, prior to 2000, there was no IRC. However, the IRC was patterned after the old BOCA 1- & 2-Family Dwelling code, with changes of course.

    Prior to that, as an example, There was the SBCCI (Southern Building Code Congress International) series of codes: Building, Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas (those were the basic codes the model code agencies had prior to the ICC). In addition, the BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators) had the BOCA 1- & 2-Family Dwelling Code for 1- & 2-Family Dwellings.

    The BOCA code was expanded in the IRC to include attached dwellings which exceeded 1- & 2-Family, i.e., townhouses which is defined in the IRC as "Three or more ... ", the reason for this is there are still some differences in the requirements between 1- & 2-Family Dwellings (duplexes) and Townhouses, Triplexes, Quads, Row-houses, also known by many other names.

    Now, back to your question as stated: No. that IRC requirement did not exist 25 years ago, in fact it did not exist before 2000.

    Now to change your question to its intent (as I understand the questions intent): Maybe, possibly not, as it would depend on if the local area was using the BOCA 1- & 2-Family Dwelling Code or the Building Code for dwellings, and it would also depend on which of the building codes was in effect, and if the codes were adopted intact. As you can see, too many variables to give an answer.

    However, as an example, 25 years ago puts that around 1980, from the ICBO (International Council of Building Officials) UBC (Uniform Building Code), 1979 Edition: (my historical codes are a pain to search as they are not well laid out on the program which contains them)
    - Sec. 1214. A one-story carport entirely open on two or more sides need not have a fire separation between the carport and the dwelling.
    - - Windows between the carport and the dwelling shall not be operable. Doors may be of any type, provided that any sash used in a door be fixed; doors between a dwelling and a carport shall be self-closing.

    - 302.4 Fire Ratings for Occupancy Separations. Occupancy separations shall be provided between various groups and divisions of occupancies as set forth in Table 3-B. For required separation of specific uses in Group I, Division 1 hospitals and nursing homes, see, Table 3-C. See also Section 504.6.1
    - Exceptions: 1. (not included here as it is not applicable to the question)
    - - 2. (not included here as it is not applicable to the question)
    - - 3. In the one-hour occupancy separation between Group R, Division 3 and Group U Occupancies, the separation may be limited to the installation of material approved for one-hour fire-resistive construction on the garage side and a self-closing, tight fitting solid-wood door 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) in thickness, 2. or a self-closing, tight fitting door having a fire-protection rating of not less than 20 minutes when tested in accordance with Part II of U.B.C. Standard 7-2, which is part of this code, is permitted in lieu of a one-hour fire assembly. Fire dampers need not be installed in air ducts passing through the wall, floor or ceiling separating a Group R, Division 3 Occupancy from a Group U Occupancy, provided such ducts within the Group U Occupancy are constructed of steel having a thickness not less than 0.019 inch (0.48 mm) (No. 26 galvanized sheet gage) and have no openings into the Group U Occupancy.

    What is Group R, Division 3 you ask?
    - Chapter 12
    - - Requirements for Group R Occupancies
    - - - Group R Occupancies Defined
    - - - - Division 3. Dwellings and lodging houses.

    I do not find it listed or defined, but Group U is "Utility", which include Private Garages, that is from newer codes. Even newer codes have now gone to Group S for storage which is where garage are now.

    Did that answer your question? No, I suspect it did not, but that is from a typical code of the time period, and which (due to the program I have them, which is the only way to get them, searching is rather cumbersome).

    Now for the clincher: If there is a fire in that garage, and that 25 year old structure does not have the separation you asked about because it was not required at the time, is that fact going to stop a fire from starting or is that fact going to put the fire out? No it is not. Being in compliance to an old code and not in compliance to a newer, safer, code does not in any way reduce the damage from the same type of incident happening in an older home versus a newer home, and, in fact, because the codes have changed so much, the likelihood of an incident happening in an older home is increased.

    "Time" is not a safety factor. Conversely, one can even say that "time is running out".
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    Re: Dwelling/garge fire separation

    New postby Rick Vernon on Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:37 am

    Jerry, thank you for your quick reply and informative answer!
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    Re: Dwelling/garage fire separation

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:07 am

    Hi Rick,

    As you can see, that Uniform Building Code addressed the separation requirement between a dwelling and its private garage as "the separation may be limited to the installation of material approved for one-hour fire-resistive construction on the garage side", which would indicate the use of 5/8 inch Type X gypsum board, whereas the IRC only requires 1/2 inch gypsum board on the garage side of the walls, but does require 5/8 inch Type X on the ceiling under living space above.

    I am now going to add a twist into what is being discussed by using another code, the Standard Building Code, the oldest I have is the 1988 edition: (underlining and bold are mine)
    - 403.3 Special Occupancy Separations
    - - 403.3.1 A separation between a private garage and any occupancy shall be the minimum fire resistance specified in Table 403.1 for the occupancy, except in the case of one or two family dwelling, fire resistance separation shall not be required.

    We now have one code which requires (effectively requires based on its wording) 5/8 inch Type X on the garage side of the wall between the garage and the dwelling and another code which requires absolutely nothing on the wall between the garage and the house, which means one could (as was done in 1978 on my house up here in Ormond Beach as the Standard Building Codes were in effect up here) install wood paneling on the garage side with no gypsum board behind the wood paneling. Yes, that is correct - the wall between the living space and the garage could have had felt paper applied to it on the garage side, my house has wood paneling on the garage side, no gypsum board. At that same time, in South Florida, they were requiring 5/8 inch Type X on the garage side.

    All depends on the code in effect in the area.

    Also, I forgot to post the Table from the 2009 IRC in my first post, so I have added it.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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    Re: Dwelling/garge fire separation

    New postby Rick Vernon on Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:24 am

    Jerry, as you may have summized an inspector that works with us did not note the separation between dwelling and garge on a 26 yr old house in his report.
    You are very detailed and consistant in your replies here and on Inspection News which makes me fan.
    Thanks as alway for the education!
    Rick
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    Re: Dwelling/garage fire separation

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:53 am

    Hi Rick,

    If permits were required in your area at that time (many areas still do not require permits today) and if a code was adopted for your area at that time (many areas also still have not adopted a code today, which seems unreal in this day and age), so ... if a code as in force and permits were required, it would be "logical to presume" that the house and its garage were permitted and inspected, which means it was "signed off on" by the AHJ.

    With that said, the AHJ deemed it to have met code at the time of construction.

    And with that said, we all know the errors and construction defects we find after-the-fact.

    If no code was adopted for your area at that time, and no permits were required, then all bets are off as there was no code for the house and garage to have to meet and be compliant - meaning that, like the days of the Wild West, "anything goes".

    The flip side of which is that a fire in the garage in an older home, heck, even a brand new home built where there are no codes, will not open the code book to see if it is allowed to destroy the home. Also, the garage to dwelling area separation wall is not a fire-resistive rated wall even in the old Uniform Building Code as the Type X was only addressed as being required on the garage side.

    When all is said and done, *even if that wall was a true 1-hour fire-resistive rated wall*, that would not "save the house", it would only be designed to give the occupants 1 hour to escape ... which is why those walls are called fire-resistive and not fire-proof.

    Hope it all works out for you, the first thing to do is to ask the local building department was code had been adopted at that time, then go from there. Let me know what code had been adopted, I may have it (or may not, but I will at least check) and if I have it I can tell what what was required.

    Also, thank you for the kind words.
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