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When was a fire separation in the attic first required between sides of a duplex?
Monday, November 26, 2018
We know that the requirement was in the original 2002 edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), and the three allowed exceptions have been added in the years since then. The earliest code we still have kicking around in the office is a 2006 International Residential Code (IRC), which shows at R317.1 that the first two of the three current exceptions were added with that edition. To understand the current standard, see our blog post What is the code requirement for fire separation between sides of a duplex?
The requirement actually goes back much farther than that to the Southern Standard Building Code, but was not always enforced. “There are many duplexes from the 1960s and 70s in Broward County and Miami-Dade County which did not have the required fire-resistant rated wall in the attics,” according to Jerry Peck, a retired South Florida building inspector and code expert. “I believe it was in the codes at that time, it’s just that ‘fire’ was not of ‘high importance’ until the mid-to-late 1980s."
We sometimes find not just no fire separation wall in the attic of a mid-centry duplex, but also an attic scuttle on both sides that provides direct access for occupants from one side to the other’s unit unless it has a locking mechanism.
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