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  1. #1
    David Block's Avatar
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    Default Firewall Question

    I have a question I need anyones educated opinion on. Recently inspected a townhome. The units were not the same height and this was a middle unit. The attic space was about 5' tall. There was drywall installed on the walls but the drywall did not extend to the roof deck. The walls in the adjacent units were bedroom walls and not attic spaces as those units were taller. I could see the drywall of the bedrooms in the adjacent units. What is the appropriate wall treatment for this units attic space?

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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Depends somewhat on the age, occupancy, etc. Need more information.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    The unit is 24 years old.


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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by David Block View Post
    Recently inspected a townhome.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Block
    The unit is 24 years old.
    From the 1994 Standard Building Code, which may, or may not, have been the code in effect at that time in that location: (bold and underlining are mine)
    - B704.4 TOWNHOUSE FIRE SEPARATION
    - - B704.4.1 Each townhouse shall be considered a separate building and shall be separated from adjoining townhouses by a party wall complying with B704.4.2 or by the use of separate exterior walls meeting the requirements of Table B600 for zero clearance from property lines as required for the type of construction. Separate exterior walls shall include one of the following:
    - - - 1. A parapet not less than 18 inches (457 mm) above the roof line.
    - - - 2. Roof sheathing of noncombustible material or fire retardant treated wood, for not less than a 4 ft (1219 mm) width on each side of the exterior dividing wall.
    - - - 3. One layer of 5/8 inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board attached to the underside of roof decking, for not less than a 4 ft (1219 mm) width on each side of the exterior dividing wall.
    - - B704.4.2 When not more than three stories in height, townhouses may be separated by a single wall meeting the following requirements:
    - - - 1. Such wall shall provide not less than a 2-hour fire resistance rating. Plumbing, piping, ducts, electrical or other building services shall not be installed within or through the 2-hour wall, unless such materials and methods of penetration have been tested in accordance with B701.2.
    - - - 2. Such wall shall be continuous from the foundation to the underside of the roof sheathing or shall have a parapet extending not less than 18 inches (457 mm) above the roof line. When such wall terminates at the underside of the roof sheathing, the roof sheathing for not less than a 4-ft (1219 mm) width on each side of the wall shall be of noncombustible material, or fire retardant treated wood, or one layer of 5/8 inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum wallboard attached to the underside of the roof decking.
    - - - 3. Each dwelling unit sharing such wall shall be designed and constructed to maintain its structural integrity independent of the unit on the opposite side of the wall.
    - - - - EXCEPTION: Said wall may be penetrated by roof and floor structural members provided that the fire resistance rating and the structural integrity of the wall is maintained.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    In addition, if there is not a full demising wall, the service mains would require grouping.


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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    In addition, if there is not a full demising wall, the service mains would require grouping.
    Not following you there.

    If they are separate townhouses, whether or not they are properly separated has nothing to do with whether or not the service mains need to be grouped or not.

    The simple fact that each townhouse is its own structure, whether or not there was a proper firewall between them (such as in the old, old, days), they are still separate structures and each structure has its own service and own main.

    The above is if, in fact, they are townhouses and not condos - the original poster stated townhouses, and until it is stated otherwise that is what we are talking about.

    If they are condos, then there is no need to separate the attic because the condo structure is one structure.

    Maybe David (the original poster) will update us on what he has?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Red face Re: Firewall Question

    Correct Jerry. If they are considered one structure, and each tenant had his/her own service panel, then the mains for those panels would have to be grouped.

    If a demising wall is in place, And, the structure is considered as multi- whatever, the mains would not have to be grouped except for each separate structure.

    For example, an apartment complex separated into two by a fire rated demising wall could have a service for each half, and each half would have its mains grouped.

    I mentioned the grouping issue just as a FYI for the HI's on the site.
    I didn't mean to hijack here, sorry.


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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    Correct Jerry. If they are considered one structure, and each tenant had his/her own service panel, then the mains for those panels would have to be grouped.
    Bob,

    You are confusing me even more with the above.

    If each one is a townhouse, each one will have its own service and its own main disconnect (or less than six disconnects and these six disconnects will be grouped), however, the way I am reading what you are saying is that if those are townhouses - the disconnects from all townhouses will have its own service panel (main disconnect) but that all the mains for the townhouses would have to be grouped ... ????

    Either I am missing something in what you are saying, or you are not saying what you are meaning ... not sure which of us is having problems here, but you have now thoroughly confused me as to what you are saying.

    If a demising wall is in place, And, the structure is considered as multi- whatever, the mains would not have to be grouped except for each separate structure.
    Demising wall or not, if those are separate structures, the mains would not be allowed to be grouped. The lack of a proper demising wall is a construction problem which would need to be addressed independent of the electrical system.

    For example, an apartment complex separated into two by a fire rated demising wall could have a service for each half, and each half would have its mains grouped.
    Apartments are constructed the same as condos, and, maybe yes and maybe no to what you said. If the entire structure were one structure with separate fire areas, the disconnects would need to be grouped at one location, or, there could be a main electrical room and the disconnects for each could be located on separate floors of the buildings (think high-rise here).

    I mentioned the grouping issue just as a FYI for the HI's on the site.
    I didn't mean to hijack here, sorry.
    Well ... ... you sure confused me with the way you mentioned it! Now I am trying to get unconfused.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    I'm also confused as I thought the question had to do wiith fire separation between townhouses, not electric services? California building codes requires complete fire separartion between both townhouses and condominium units foundation to the underside of roof covering and has for many years.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    From the 1994 Standard Building Code, which may, or may not, have been the code in effect at that time in that location: .


    He said the unit is 24 years old!?!

    2012 less 24 = 1988 doesn't it?

    Would be kind of difficult for a 1994 code which wasn't written yet to be in effect wouldn't it?

    BOCA's UBC or ICBO's UBC mid-west of the great Mississipi was the usual.

    I don't recall Kansas jurisdictions being up to date with any adopted model codes in the 60s 70s or 80s.

    It would not be unusal for townhomes of that vintage to be separated by stud walls containing fiberglass or mineral wool batt insulation to minimum of exterior wall standards of the time for the region, and each side of the party wall having two layers of 5/8" gypsum drywall, each stud cavity blocked mid-way for each story, each layer of drywall independantly taped and mudded; and each seam landing atop full dimmensional lumber stud or blocking. No appliances or storage in truss attic, no floor or deck in same - no permanent stair or ladder, just scuttle common; with fiberglass or asphaltic composition standard three-tab roofing expected.

    No plastic in the walls, any electrical being in metal conduit and metal boxes, with extended depth (metal) plaster rings (including telco), no plumbing (distribution or DWV) in the party walls (in inside walls or penetrations through floor inside of same) and that these party walls are covered to the roof deck, as long as the roof structure and supporting members of the structure run/ran parallel to the party walls.
    Sub floor breaks, and the ceiling drywall applied abutted to the first layer of drywall on the party wall, the second layer underneath.

    Both the earlier editions of the model codes prescribed one-hour fire resistant construction via exceptions for single family attached dwelling units that met your description "townhomes" and the approved/tested one-hour UL assemblies of the vintage were met by same depending on the referenced edition of the adopted model code and/or developments at the time with FHA/VA design approval, met the prescribed requirements of better part of the three-decade time-frame I referenced. Later requirements to gyp block up to four feet in from the party wall combustible roof sub-structure and deck or alternative FRT plywood deck were introduced.

    One-hour prescribed fire-resistant construction for separation walls for townhomes exception to framed party walls no parapet exists again today in the lastest editions of the IRC for same (was absent for only two IRC code cycles IIRC mid-way between the origination of the IRC and the lastest edition).

    Separate lot lines, land extending at two sides - simple row style, single family attached (three or more) single family-"town"homes.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-14-2012 at 11:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    1. California employed the Uniform Building Code from 1927 to 2007. The 2010 California Building Standards Code adopted the 2009 I-codes with special CA amendments to be become effective on January 1, 2011.
    2. As a builder from 1956 until 1989 all condos units and townhouse construction was separated by fire walls at least in the SF Peninsula area.
    3. CABO Codes where an east coast thing and California never adopted them.

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Whoops! There I go again unintentionally hijacking a thread... no wonder I can't even sew right.

    I'll say this and then bow out: Classification of structures is not my field of study as I am just a lowly E. I.. I leave that job for my building inspectors.

    What I do look for is a fire separation wall if the mains are not grouped.
    The intent (here we go again Jerry), is that the fire responders with 6 throws of the hand in one location can shut off all power to the structure. The fire separation wall will, for a time, keep the other structure safe (at least in theory) and the responders will have time to shut down to attached structures if required.

    I confess I may not be using 'structure' in the proper context Jerry, but the Fire departments in my jurisdiction appreciate my line of thinking and enforcement. I do realize I'm referring to new or alteration of structures which this thread in not about.
    I apologize and bow out.


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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    California didn't universally use the same building codes until they adopted a State adotion system. Differing cities, counties, etc. had their own adoptions prior. When the STATE adopted state-wide requirements it again did not adopt the model UBC, but re-wrote it extensively. California made a multitude of alterations to same and continued to do so until it re-wrote yet again and present construction would be based upon California's VERSION somewhat based & codified on the 2009 ed. I-codes eff. within the past 2 yrs.

    Anyway, the OP is in Kansas, and California's Title 24, etc. and what Caifornia was doing has never applied to construction in the STATE OF KANSAS. Few east of California give a rat's patoot about the history of California Codes, but if you're going to make out a history lesson, try at getting the facts at least marginally correct.


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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    1. California employed the Uniform Building Code from 1927 to 2007. The 2010 California Building Standards Code adopted the 2009 I-codes with special CA amendments to be become effective on January 1, 2011.
    2. As a builder from 1956 until 1989 all condos units and townhouse construction was separated by fire walls at least in the SF Peninsula area.
    3. CABO Codes where an east coast thing and California never adopted them.
    History

    Building Codes & Regulatory Resources | Environmental Design Library | UC Berkeley

    Incorrect universal state law Historical facts and summary thereof, off-topic and disputable o/s of SF city fire codes, and again: irrelevant and meanlingless to Kansas.

    Every post upper right corner shows poster's declared "Location". Subject original poster's location displays as being in KANSAS (KS).

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-14-2012 at 11:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    HG, your arrogance is overwhelming and your stupidity infinite

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    He said the unit is 24 years old!?!

    2012 less 24 = 1988 doesn't it?

    Would be kind of difficult for a 1994 code which wasn't written yet to be in effect wouldn't it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    HG, your arrogance is overwhelming and your stupidity infinite
    W. C. Jerry,

    Watson's arrogance is as overwhelming as his ability to read is underwhelming.

    I was responding to this post:
    03-04-2012 08:47 PM
    Jim Luttrall Depends somewhat on the age, occupancy, etc. Need more information.

    As I was typing and copying and pasting the 1994 code information prior to posting my post at:
    03-04-2012 09:26 PM
    Jerry Peck

    ... and while doing the above, Dave responded with this post:
    03-04-2012 09:15 PM
    David Block The unit is 24 years old.

    We all need to try to just ignore Old Man Watson as I truly believe he has now gone over the edge and his usefulness and good information is being exceeded by his arrogance to a level that makes his posts pathetic and unreadable.

    I acknowledge that it is getting increasingly difficult to ignore the old cuss, but it is getting to be such that there remains little hope for him to become a viable participant here.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    I clearly indicted I was referring to the California codes specifically for our members from California, not about wherever the thread starter on this subject is located. As you know I taught both the UBC and IRC for 14 years at our local community college and have served in the past on at least two ICC Code committees. However, I have never taken the position that my posts are infallible, but try to do them with thought, adequate research, dignity, and a sense of respect for my fellow posters on this excellent bulletin board.
    I thank you for your comments and support Jerry Peck and will now put this all behind me.

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    W. C. Jerry,

    Watson's arrogance is as overwhelming as his ability to read is underwhelming.

    I was responding to this post:
    03-04-2012 08:47 PM
    Jim Luttrall Depends somewhat on the age, occupancy, etc. Need more information.



    As I was typing and copying and pasting the 1994 code information prior to posting my post at:
    03-04-2012 09:26 PM
    Jerry Peck

    ... and while doing the above, Dave responded with this post:
    03-04-2012 09:15 PM
    David Block The unit is 24 years old.

    B.S. Peck. You quoted both of Dave's posts, NOT Jim L.'s Post in your hasty cut-and-paste of non-applicable code from S. Fla that never applied to Kansas, and was edition six years post construction.

    Dave didn't respond BEFORE your post, you QUOTED the Age of the building IN your post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
    We all need to try to just ignore Old Man Watson as I truly believe he has now gone over the edge and his usefulness and good information is being exceeded by his arrogance to a level that makes his posts pathetic and unreadable.

    I acknowledge that it is getting increasingly difficult to ignore the old cuss, but it is getting to be such that there remains little hope for him to become a viable participant here.
    You've made a habit over the last several weeks of cross posting off-topic blather on posts I haven't even participated in, making excuses about your constant errors, tirades, etc. and throwing my name around.

    Now you make b.s. excuses and attempt to re-write the plain and simple easy for anyone to see, actual post history in a topic discussion thread.

    The topic was a 24 yr. old townhome in Kansas - didn't require a 2-hour anything. Just a prescribed frame construction separation wall or 1-hour, no parapets, no 2-hour, or an approved 1-hour tested UL assembly.


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    Default Re: Firewall Question

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    B.S. Peck. You quoted both of Dave's posts, NOT Jim L.'s Post in your hasty cut-and-paste of non-applicable code from S. Fla that never applied to Kansas, and was edition six years post construction.

    Dave didn't respond BEFORE your post, you QUOTED the Age of the building IN your post.
    Watson,

    That's because when I posted I saw Dave's post there, went back and edited my post to include his, but did not change the content of my post because I have the 1994 SBC on my computer and the 1988 in book - meaning I would have to type the 1988 code section.

    That is why I left the 1994 code section.

    Watson, you are so ignorant, arrogant, and downright stupid at times (most of the times).

    Watson, try this: click on 'Submit Reply', read the post you just posted, click on 'Edit', make a corrective edit, click on 'Save', no 'post has been edited' message will appear right away, you probably have 30 seconds or so to fix formatting errors (such as broken quotes) and typos, before the post is 'finalized' and the 'post has been edited' message appears when you edit it.

    That give you the opportunity to correct the obvious bozo things you see you did right after posting it 'Oh my gawd, I had my hands one letter off on the key board, nothing is spelled remotely correctly.', fix it before some idiot like you points typos out to people in big, bold, red text ... even though you make the same bumbling typos.

    Later, when you go back and review your post and go 'Oh my gawd, I spelled it that way?', you can edit your post and it shows as having been edited.

    Watson, get over yourself.

    The world does not revolve around you, and just because you do not know something does not mean it cannot be done.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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