Monday, June 19, 2017

Does An Attic Access Opening/Hatch In A Garage Have To Be Fire Rated?

The garage is recognized by fire officials and the building code as a place where plenty of house fires get started. Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, paint thinner, degreaser, and other solvents, are often stored in a garage. A car in the garage can leak gasoline onto the floor, and the gas itself or its vapor is easily ignitable by a spark. So the Florida Building Code (FBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) have safety standards for maintaining a separation for fire protection between a garage and the house, to keep any garage fire from quickly spreading into the home.

One of the separation requirements is that the ceiling of a garage should be “not less than 1/2-inch gypsum board or equivalent.” Any openings for attic access in the garage ceiling must also meet this standard, so an attic hatch cover panel of 1/2-inch gypsum board obviously meets this requirement, but there is also fire-treated plywood that can be used. Fire-rated attic ladders with a 30-minute burn rating are another alternative. What is not acceptable is a panel of regular plywood or other readily flammable material for an attic hatch cover in a garage.

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