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Pulldown ladders in garages

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[#1] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 1:09:22 PM
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I see pulldown ladders in attached garages all of the time in my neck of the woods (south central PA). I call these out since they void the garage's firewall rating since the ladders are a thin piece of plywood. All you need is an overheated car to start a fire and whoooosh....the fire spreads in a few seconds to the above garage attic and into the home.

It doesn't appear that building inspectors (new homes) call this out or the actual ladder manufacturer's include install instructions stating that these should NOT be installed in garages due to the potential firewall issue.

I would guess that installing a proper fire-rated box over the pulldown ladder opening will 'reclaim' the firewall, yet who the heck is going to do that and have to remove it each time to pull the ladder down.

Some other local inspectors do not call these out for some reason...Am I the only one calling this issue out in attached garages?

Discussion..?

Matthew Steger
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#2] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 1:21:28 PM
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Is there a 2nd floor? Does the firewall extend to the roof?

Gary Randolph
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#3] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 3:57:12 PM
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Well I already contributed my opinion when you asked the same question two weeks ago here:
http://www.inspectorsjournal.c..._ID=4665

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#4] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 5:16:30 PM
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Now that's interesting

Thanks Jim.

Gary Randolph
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#5] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 6:41:22 PM
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The state of GA addresses the pulldown ladder thing by requiring a 3/8" fire retardant treated panel. Local county will ok the non retardant if there is a piece of hardiboard or sheetrock fastened on the panel surface.
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#6] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 9:38:24 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Jim Baird

The state of GA addresses the pulldown ladder thing by requiring a 3/8" fire retardant treated panel. Local county will ok the non retardant if there is a piece of hardiboard or sheetrock fastened on the panel surface.


Do they also require that the panel be sealed at the perimeter?

How does the local county deal with the fact that the assembly won't close all the way with the added weight of hardiboard or sheetrock on it?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#7] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 9:47:20 PM
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I always call it out. I saw one in a new construction recently that had gypsum board attached and a barrel bolt to secure it up, otherwise it would sag from the frame as Jim said. Seemed like a good solution.
The real question is, why are they manufacturing these like they are? Is there a market for a code-compliant panel?

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#8] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 10:13:22 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by homnspector

. . . The real question is, why are they manufacturing these like they are?

Because they're cheap and they sell them by the boxcar.

Quote: Is there a market for a code-compliant panel?

Probably, but it woudn't be a profitable market.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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[#9] Posted: 09/18/2007 - 10:19:51 PM
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"Probably, but it woudn't be a profitable market. "
Hah, that's what they told Gary Dahl.

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#10] Posted: 09/19/2007 - 08:33:30 AM
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Sorry I asked this question again.. from Jim's posting, I asked this two weeks ago and forgot I did.
Matthew Steger
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#11] Posted: 09/19/2007 - 08:37:30 AM
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Quote: Originally posted by ozofprev


Is there a 2nd floor? Does the firewall extend to the roof?


No, there is not a fire-resistant material to the roof in the attic above the garage. Often just a compressed paper-like building material or foil backed foam board.

I believe most building codes required at least 1/2" drywall for firewall protection on garage ceilings if not a living space, and 3/4' min drywall if there is a living space above the garage.

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#12] Posted: 09/19/2007 - 09:09:24 AM
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Check with the locals.
Just for example's sake, there is a document (titled GARAGE FIRE LID AND WALL REQ) at http://www.sjgov.org/commdev/c...andouts' target='_blank'>http://www.sjgov.org/commdev/c...handouts on residential garage ceilings for Joaqin County CA that specifies when they require a fire lid. (Common truss for house/garage, no firewall to roof, 2nd story...)

Gary Randolph
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#13] Posted: 09/19/2007 - 8:14:44 PM
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"...How does the local county deal with the fact that the assembly won't close all the way with the added weight of hardiboard or sheetrock on it?..."

I've seen it applied and the unit close up just fine. The non-compliant and the compliant plywood bottom panels weigh very little, whereas the springs are fairly stout.


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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#14] Posted: 09/19/2007 - 11:13:53 PM
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I hate to drift here, but I did a house Monday with a new drop-stair/pulldown that was made of 2x stuff with heavy steel hinges at the joints. I've never seen one like it. Damn that was nice. Son-of-a-gun was as stiff as I used to be.

Brian G.
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#15] Posted: 09/20/2007 - 06:41:47 AM
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One can buy a fire-rated folding stair right off the shelf.

I've told many a customer to buy one of these things. Don't know if any ever bought one, though. If I needed an attic stair that wasn't a real wood stair, I'd get one of these.

Looky here:

http://www.rainbowatticstair.c...dder.cfm

WJ

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#16] Posted: 09/26/2007 - 05:18:18 AM
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Quote: Originally posted by Jim Baird

The state of GA addresses the pulldown ladder thing by requiring a 3/8" fire retardant treated panel. Local county will ok the non retardant if there is a piece of hardiboard or sheetrock fastened on the panel surface.

Jim,
I am not familiar with this requirement in GA and have never seen a pulldown in a garage installed this way. I had one yesterday on a ranch condo that was installed/built in 2003, same ole 1/4" plywood pulldown. It was in Marietta/Cobb Co.
I'd love a good reference to include in my report.
Thanks

Tim M.
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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#17] Posted: 09/26/2007 - 6:08:38 PM
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Tim,

It's in the GA amendments, but I don't think it took effect until about '06. Those amendments are posted on the state DCA website.

By the way, what's a ranch condo? Is that a duplex owned by two different parties?

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Pulldown ladders in garages
[#18] Posted: 09/26/2007 - 7:29:32 PM
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By the way, what's a ranch condo? Is that a duplex owned by two different parties?
[/quote]
The ranch condos I've seen have all been 4 per building. Ranch/slabs. 2 car garage in all units. It was really nice but best I could tell it was all retired folks living in the comuunity.

Tim M.
   
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