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Fire Blocking

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I called this out today on a new construction - final walk-through for a developer that has hired me to do 30 town homes.

The builder argued with me for about 20 mins until I had to walk away. I quoted IRC 602.8 which states that gaps around ducts & pipes @ floor and ceiling level penetrations should be sealed.

His argument that this utility closet that had the furnace and hot water heater in it, was isolated 1 hour construction.

I just want to get some feedback before I go back to the Builder. Was I right to call this out? Check out the pictures.

Any input would help.



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You are correct in calling out the defect. It doesn't matter if the walls and ceiling are 1 hour rated, if there are hole, the fire will just go through those. The builder is just trying to get out of fixing the problem. You can always offer to call the AHJ.

Kevin Teitel

House-Pro Inspections

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If your area is like mine, Kevin, the city inspectors have never enforced fireblocking so the builders have no clue as to its need or purpose. A fire can easily spread from the basement of a house to its attic via the gaps around a flue pipe. And attic fires are what cause houses to be destroyed reeeaaally quickly. I loathe those conversations, but I'd remain firm with the builder and try to make him or her understand.

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I dunno,

If it's a utility closet in a one-story house with an attic above it, and is isolated with a 1-hr. wall, I don't think it is even required to have a ceiling above it. Is that what this is?

It's rare, but I see them open to the attic every once in a while. I seem to recall a long conversation about this on another board where the final concensus was that it was goofy but allowed.

That being the case, the OSB is no more flammable than the exposed underside of the roof is. The OSB is probably functioning as more of a dust cover to keep out most of the insulation blown into the attic, rather than prevent spread of fire.

However, if it is on the ground floor of a two story house or in a basement that is another matter and the penetrations should have been sealed.

If it's a one story with an attic above it, dunno if I'd call it or not. Guess I'd have to see more of it than the extreme closeups to say.

OT - OF!!!


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  • 2 weeks later...

The builder is a goof, spray foam is cheap and easy to use, even fun..

When we are building I either do it myself or stay on top of the insulation contractor to get it done. As a builder and an inspector I am dismayed at the quality of homes in the local speculative market. NY does not require licensing for builders, there is a bill in the legislature but unfortunately the NYSBA is fighting it. I think it would be a good thing.


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