A fire rated wall can be one of two types. A true fire wall is one that is not only designed to prevent the spread of fire from one side of a building to the next, but it provides structural support. It also extends from below the floor to above the roof line. A fire barrier wall or fire partition provides protection from the spread of fire, but it not structurally supportive. It is not required to extend from the floor to above the roof line.
Building a Fire Rated Wall
Depending on the materials used to construct the wall and the area that they cover, a fire rating is possible. Fire ratings are measured according to the amount of time they can withstand the spread of fire. There are codes that determine the appropriate thickness of the layers between areas of the structure, and they will differ from residential to commercial construction.
To construct a fire wall, concrete cinderblock is the most common material to use. It can stop the spread of fire between the areas of a structure while at the same time adding structural support. Fire partitions are often made from successive layers of gypsum board or sheetrock. Any pipes or cables that travel through fire walls require fire stop assemblies while doors and windows contained within fire walls must be fire rated as well.
Check with the local fire inspector in your area to get the specifics regarding code. The basic distinction will apply, though, between fire walls that add support and fire partitions that do not.