In light of large fires in cities in the past, including the Great Chicago fire, the building codes recognize that when individual units, homes, and buildings are constructed in close proximity to one another, buildings must have adequate means to reduce the ability of a fire to spread rapidly. Building codes have specific requirements for firewalls between adjacent units in multi-family residential construction, and often, builders do not follow these requirements fully. Where firewalls do not meet the requirements of the building code or the construction drawings, the firewalls do not provide the required amount of protection from the spread of fires, resulting in an increased risk to life-safety of the building’s occupants.
Common firewall defects include:
- Combustible materials penetrating firewall
- Omitted firewall components, including layers of drywall or gypsum sheathing
- Penetrations that are not fire-protected