Firestopping - Where does the buck stop?

Discussion created by on Apr 8, 2020
Latest reply on Apr 10, 2020 by rfdacm02

A large developer built a large number of condominiums (3 condos per building) in Orange County in 2005. Built to California Building Code.

I bought one in 2017 in good faith and recently peeked inside the ceiling space where I saw penetrations in the fire separation between mine and the adjacent condo.

Most were fire stopped but, to my mind, not correctly, and with no identifying label. There are also roof trusses penetrating the drywall with some form of tape over the gap and, in some places, a clear gap through the wall.


I got the plans from City Hall which specify that penetrations through fire walls must use approved systems, etc. etc.

The buildings are sprinklered below the ceiling only. The ceiling is not fire rated. There is only one sprinkler head in the ceiling space, located above the air conditioning unit.


Clearly, whoever inspected these penetrations has erred in signing them off. I don't know whether City Hall did the inspections themselves, or whether it was under the main contractor/developer.


The attached photos show (my numbering):

#4 timber penetration,

#5 cable, 

#6 uPVC pipe,

#20 and #27 truss member through the wall.


I can find nothing in the UL library for fire stopping timber penetrations.


Before approaching the developer or a lawyer, I have written to the HOA in November 2019. They asked me to look at a few other condos in January and I found the same thing.


Repairs might involve cutting ceilings to get access to penetrations where the (pitched) roof is low.


Also, owners do not want to have workers inside their homes making repairs at any time, but particularly now, with COVID-19 happening.


How do I get these installations made good?


Can City Hall or the developer be held responsible after all this time? If not legally, I guess the developer does not want their reputation harmed, so, perhaps a quiet word with them.


Suggestions welcomed.