Fire Separation Walls

Attached garages make life simple. They protect your car from extreme sun, snow, leafs, and other elements. You can park and bring groceries directly into your house. Storage is easy and secure. But there are potential drawbacks to parking and storing equipment in a structure that is directly attached to your home: cars create toxic fumes, they store gasoline that can put off flammable vapors, often tools and appliances can create sparks that could ignite vapors. Also notable is that an attached garage is quite a large, open space with plenty of air to fuel a fire, if one were to occur. Exposed wood is common, whereas the home itself has wall coverings that are slower to catch fire.

While these individual issues would have to synchronize very poorly to create a problem, which may seem unlikely, it can happen. Fires can start in the garage and travel to the primary structure of the home very rapidly. As such, there are guidelines to minimize the risk to homeowners.

One of those safety precautions is a fire separation wall between the home and garage. While there are many ways to achieve this fire break, its goal is universal: slow the spread of fire until the fire department can respond. While a burnt down garage is no picnic, it is much better than losing everything. A fire wall will physically slow the spread of fire, but moreover it is intended to seal gaps and holes that can leak air from one side of the wall to the other. This is important because fire requires oxygen to burn, so if either side of the wall is sealed well, it will have a smaller volume of oxygen, which will lead to a slower spread of fire. Again, this will not prevent any possibility of fire, but it will slow the spread until rescue workers can respond. As such, any cracks, gaps, or holes should be patched and covered to achieve the fire separation goals.

Too long, didn’t read version: Fire separation walls between the garage and home may mean the difference between a burnt garage and a fully lost home.

-Marshall Tramp, CPI, RMP

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Marshall Tramp, CPI, RMP
Author: Marshall Tramp, CPI, RMP
Top Notch Inspection Services llc
Serving Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho