Fire Barrier vs Fire Partition Table 508.4

I had a question about separating an Auditorium (A occupancy) from an Office space (B occupancy). I chose to use a fire partition rather than a fire barrier based on table 508.4:

The question didn’t mention anything about the spaces having sprinklers or not. Since that’s the only distinguishing factor in this table, my guess is that I’m looking in the wrong part of the code. So where should I look in the code to find when to use a fire partition vs a fire barrier.

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Hi @Shikha ,

This is a great question! There’s a lot of tricky nuances about when a fire partition vs fire wall vs fire barrier is required. It gets even more confusing when you have to start looking into smoke partitions & barriers on top of that!

You’re looking at the right chart. (FYI - this screenshot is OK to post since it is from a free website that you don’t need to pay to view). If you look at the title above the chart is specifies that all of these separations no matter the hourly rating are fire barriers. See highlighted text below.

Below is a link to a PowerPoint called “The Five Walls of the IBC”. It’s an old presentation the ICC put out in 2016, so it’s not exactly current, but it’s still the simplest and best resource I’ve found for understanding the difference between wall assembly types and which one should be used in which situation beyond reading the entire IBC.

The way I usually remember is:

  • Fire partitions separate corridors from other spaces
  • Fire barriers separate occupancies, vertical shafts, & exit access (vertical & horizontal)
  • Fire Walls separate buildings
  • Smoke partitions are required in I uses
  • Smoke barriers separate areas of refuge & are required in I uses

Please note, there are a million nuances to this not taken into account in the bullets above. The bullet points are very general rules of thumb. The reason smoke partitions are required in I uses as these uses include groups who have varying abilities to perform an evacuation on their own without assistance. The control of smoke spread becomes much more important when you consider the occupants may be in place until assistance arrives to get them out of the building.

Hope this helps!

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This is so dope! Thanks @coachdarionziegler

Also want to give a shout out to @coachmarkbailey who just taught a STELLAR rated assembly workshop that cleared this up for me!

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@Shikha thanks for the shout out! We did have a great workshop group yesterday, and I’m glad you found it helpful and clear!

@coachdarionziegler that is a great reference, I’m bookmarking that one! Thanks :slight_smile:

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