A fire-rated wall is a feature of a building’s passive fire protection system that has been checked and certified by the proper regulatory agency. There are two basic types of fire-rated walls: true firewalls and fire barrier walls. The first is a structurally stable wall that also is certified to prevent a fire from spreading from one side of a building to the other. Fire barrier walls, on the other hand, provide fire-rated protection while not being structurally sound.
A true fire-rated wall extends through the roof between sides of a building, such as a townhouse or an apartment complex. It also extends downward through the floor. In essence, it is designed and certified to prevent a fire from spreading through a building in the event that one ignites on one side. Firewalls thoroughly separate sides of buildings and provide stable structural support.
A fire barrier wall or fire partition helps to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading, but it does not provide structural support, nor does it extend through the roofline and floor. Provided the materials used for construction have a particular firewall certification, fire partitions are adequate in a structure.
To meet coding requirements, fire-rated walls are elementary to subdivided structures.