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Can I move a fire stop in my wall?

Answered by Brett ~ April 1, 2011 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

Im planning on installing in-wall speakers and as I was measuring I came across a fire stop in the middle of where I was planning for the speakers to go. Can I move the fire stop from it's current location to just above or below the speaker location? Or can I add an additional fire stop to essentially box in the speaker?

Rick ~ Murrieta, California

Brett Kulina

Rick, because building and fire codes differ from one location to another, I suggest that you check the codes in your local area before altering the framing within your home's wall. I also suspect that you may be referring to "fire blocking" and not to a "fire stop." When researching the specific codes in the Murrieta area, keep in mind that the terms "fire stop" and "fire blocking" are not the same, although they often get interchanged during general conversation. While the term "fire blocking" is sometimes used when describing a piece of framing material that is installed within a wall stud cavity, the term "fire stop" might be describing a more detailed system that deals with through penetrations in a fire-rated assembly (such as a sprinkler pipe that travels between fire-rated floors or walls).

A good example of the need for a fire stop system would be a situation where a fire-rated wall, perhaps one located between an attached garage and a residential living area, was penetrated by some plumbing pipes. Although the fire-rated wall was initially built to code in this example, the new penetration would have altered the wall's ability to contain smoke or noxious fumes if a fire ignited in the garage. Therefore, it would be necessary to install a fire stop system at the penetration in order to maintain the integrity of the fire-rated wall.

Usually the tradesperson who causes the penetration is responsible for installing an approved fire stop system, which may include a fireproof mortar or sealant. They might also be responsible for having the wall and penetration inspected.

As I said, it seems to me that you may be dealing with a fire blocking issue instead of the need for a fire stop at a wall penetration. In many circumstances, the bottom and top plates of the wall framing, as well as an additional third block located somewhere in the middle of the two, are enough to satisfy general fire blocking requirements for a wall in a single family residence. Yet, to be sure, check your local codes and proceed from there!

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