NC Building Code Council Amends Residential Fire Separation Requirement

ConstructionThe North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) scored a major victory for builders, developers and home buyers at the March 2013 State Building Code Council meeting.

The 2012 NC Residential Code had increased the fire separation distance from 3’ to 5’ from the lot line for single family dwellings that trigger the minimum fire-resistance ratings of walls and projections and the openings in walls limits found in Table R302.1. The Rule passed by the Council was approved by the Rules Review Commission on May 16, 2013 and is immediately available for use by permit holders. The effective date for the Rule is June 1, 2013 as adopted by the Building Code Council and approved by the Rules Review Commission.

During the Public Hearing for this important change, Robert Privott, NCHA Director of Codes and Construction explained to the Council that “during this past code cycle, the fire separation distances were arbitrarily increased by a distance of 2’-0’’ without any scientific data or reports that proved the allowable distance found in the previous NCRBC were an increased fire hazard.” Privott further explained that “there are thousands of vacant lots approved for development in North Carolina that are designed for 3’ separation distance from property lines that this modification will continue to allow and that the increased fire separation distance negatively impacts our industry, existing homeowners and the economy.”

The approved amendment to Table R302.1 now reads:

EXTERIOR WALL ELEMENT

MINIMUM

FIRE-RESISTANCE RATING

MINIMUM

FIRE SEPARATION

DISTANCE

Walls

(Fire-resistance rated)

1 hour-tested in accordance with ASTM E 119 or UL 263 with exposure to both sides

5 Feet

(Not fire-resistance rated)

0-Hours

3 5 Feet

Projections

(Fire-resistance rated)

1-Hour on the underside

3 4 Feet

(Not fire-resistance rated)

0-Hours

3 5 Feet

Openings

Not Allowed

N/A

< 3 Feet

25% Maximum of Wall Area

0-Hours

3 Feet

Unlimited

0-Hours

3 5 Feet

Penetrations

All

Comply with

Section R302.4

< 5 Feet

None Required

3 5 Feet

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