Fire-rated walls are very important when building a new building; fire-rated walls are used to contain a fire for a certain amount of time, depending on the rating of the wall. This can give the residents enough amount of time to evacuate the building safely.
Electrical rooms are part of any building as they are essential to operate the different appliances in the building like elevators or the lights. However, they are like any electrical structure; they can fail and start a fire even if maintained and checked properly.
Do Electrical Room Walls Need To Be Fire Rated?
Yes, electrical room walls need to be fire rated; even if they are working properly and regularly maintained, the chances of them failing and starting a fire still exist. Electrical rooms should be in areas away from people or areas that are not visited frequently.
The recommended rate for electrical room walls is 1 hour rated walls at least; the rating should increase as the voltage and equipment increase. This is because fire can spread very quickly. Therefore, a 1 hour rated wall, doors, and other rated separation can contain the fire until the building is safely evacuated.
The electrical room rating should not be a default standard; you will need to know the total voltage in the room and determine the suitable rating. For example, for electric vaults that contain 600 amperes or greater, the suitable rating for them should be 3-hour rated walls or more.
How To Know If a Wall is Fire Rated?
- If the wall that you are checking contains a window or a fire-rated door, then the wall is fire rated as well. If you are looking for fire-rated walls in your house. The wall between the living spaces and the garage is fire rated. You can know from the door by opening it and looking at the door’s inside edge and frame; you will be able to see the metal tag that says fire rated.
- If there are any openings in your wall, you can check their sealing to see if they are fire-rated. The caulking for fire-rated openings has a red color; therefore, if you find a red caulk on your wall, it’s fire rated.
- If the drywall covering the wall has a thickness of a minimum of 5/8″ and the gypsum is mixed with fiberglass, then it’s a fire-rated wall. Because this mixture is used to make the wall able to withstand the heat. You may find it hard to notice the difference in the thickness between fire-rated walls and normal walls, so you will need to measure the thickness of the walls from a doorway.
- You can also use the code to determine where fire-rated are found in your building; for example, according to the code, the wall separating the garage from the living space should always be fire-rated. Another example of fire-rated walls is hallways walls in commercial buildings; any exit route in these buildings must have fire-rated walls.
To sum up, the walls of electrical rooms must be fire-rated with at least of 1-hour rating in order to give the residents enough time to evacuate the building safely. Even if checked and regularly maintained, electrical rooms can fail and start a fire unexpectedly.
Therefore, you need to ensure the electrical room has fire-rated walls of suitable rating because as the voltage of the electrical room increases, the rating of the fire-rated wall should also increase. For example, for electric vaults that contain 600 amperes or greater, the suitable rating for them should be 3-hour rated walls or more.
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