Balloon frame fire blocking


Whoa...who says you, "have to install X-type (fire resistant) 5/8" sheetrock on my exterior walls anyway, and so that satisfies the lateral fire blocking requirement."

First, Sheetrock on exterior walls is for fire resistance or lateral resistance, not for fire blocking.

Second, sheetrock for fire resistance on exterior walls is ONLY required when your exterior wall needs to be "fire rated". Fire rating for residential construction is ONLY required if the house is constructed too close to the property line...and then only on that one side of the house.

Third, if it's for "lateral resistance", then it must be installed in a certain pattern and nailed properly (correct size and spacing of...

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I've got a two-story balloon frame house that is gutted. I have to install fire blocking between studs in the wall cavity. Do I install the fire blocking wherever there is a floor, or wherever there is a ceiling? (Or both?)

Blocking is required wherever a fire or draft can pass from horizontal plane to a vertical plane or vice versa. In otherwords, where the wall meets the floor and the floor meets a ceiling. If fire can pass through one section and travel to another, it needs to be blocked. The 2012 IRC code says that a 16" section of fiberglass insulation will suffice as fireblocking. If you are insulating the outside walls as it is, you will be covered.

February 03, 2016 23:13...

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Fires in balloon-frame construction present the engine company officer with various challenges. In addition to securing a water supply, stretching a line and extinguishing the main body of the fire, the officer must also chase the fire—and hopefully get ahead of it—but due to the abundance of void spaces, this can be rather difficult and sometimes dangerous.

What Is It?
From the late 1800s until about 1940, balloon-frame wood construction was a fast and easy way to construct multi-story homes found primarily in the East and Midwest. The balloon frame uses a continuous wood stud wall member that stretches from the foundation to the attic. These stud walls are usually 16 inches apart and contain no inherent vertical fire stops, except for a possible window or door. This method of construction allowed the builder to determine the ceiling height by simply fastening a ledger board to the studs at the desired height to support the floor joists.

In addition to creating...

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A successful fireground operation begins with a proper size-up that identifies the type of construction involved. Balloon-frame style construction is one of the two most common styles of traditional wood-frame construction, with platform frame construction being the next most common.

Balloon-frame, which was built from the early 19th century until World War II, poses unique firefighting problems because it lacks horizontal fire stops between the studs inside of the exterior walls.

Most balloon-frame homes are two or three stories tall. This allows for unimpeded fire spread from the basement to the attic in a matter of minutes via the interior stud channels of the exterior walls.

Platform frame became popular after World War II and shortened the exterior walls to 8 or 10 feet and provided fire stopping between floors.

Fire's pathway
The lack of fire stopping within the exterior walls can pose a major challenge for firefighters. In addition, the joist...

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Balloon Framing 1 For Adu

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[Download] Balloon Framing 1 For ADU

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[Download] Balloon Framing Wall Studs And Floor Joists

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Our next IRONSandLADDERS author is a Lt. on a truck company in downtown. He has served our city for 28 years and set a great example of being a tradesman to all. Here is some of his thoughts relating to the following video and other thinking points that arise with balloon frame fires.

Note on the Video: when you click play the video will not show on our site. Click the “Watch on You Tube” link that comes up after clicking the video. If you are not getting the right video click this link


It’s often said that when fighting a fire in a balloon frame structure, the fire department can do everything wrong and still make a successful hit or we can do everything right and still burn it down. There are many reasons for this: undetected fire in hidden voids and confined spaces (to include the attic), misuse of PPV, and not recognizing the importance of vertical ventilation in these structures to...

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I was reading about balloon framing on an online forum. I think this might be how my house is built. Do you think it is really inferior and a fire hazard?

Balloon framing is a style of wood-house building that uses long, vertical 2" x 4"s for the exterior walls. These long "studs" extend uninterrupted, from the sill on top of the foundation, all the way up to the roof. When it first came into use, well before the mid-nineteenth century, it was a radically different type of construction from the "timber frame" or "braced frame" that preceded it for centuries. The earlier style timber framing used large timbers interlocked with chiseled joints (mostly mortise and tenons) secured with wood pegs. The balloon frame relies solely on nails to secure each piece. The only chiseling is for the horizontal boards that support upper level floor joists, the diagonal boards, or for corner braces that are "let in" to the studs so as to be flush with the wall surface.

"Balloon" was...

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Not sure how to install fire block? I'm your huckleberry. I know that's a movie quote from somewhere but I can't remember where. I think it means I'm your man or something southern macho like that.

If you're reading about fire blocking then I know you must be either:

1. Someone who plans way ahead (kudos to you!)


2. Someone who is presently freaking out. Perhaps because you missed a major step in your basement finishing project.

Either way, I know I can help you. During my basement finishing project I was the latter. The guy freaking out.

I remember, it was a Monday. I mentioned to my friend Tom that I was done framing my basement walls and had scheduled my framing inspection for Thursday. He goes, "Cool. You are really doing it." then casually mentions as he walked away. "Don't forget fire blocking - they'll fail you for sure."

WHAT!!! What the hell is fire blocking? Can I do it in 3 days?

The purpose of fire...

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