What is a Fire Barrier?

Passive smoke and fire management systems can often have confusing language.

The terms barrier and partition have become interchangeable in common language. However the International Building Code (IBC) is actually quite particular when it comes to their official requirements.

When it comes to a fire “barrier”, the IBC is very specific that a “barrier” must have a minimum 1 hour fire resistance rating. Meanwhile, a fire “partition” has a fire resistance requirement of ½ hour minimum in certain occupancies, while a 1 hour rating for all others.

Often, a fire “partition” is just a commonly referred to phrase in the industry and really has become synonymous with fire barrier. However, determining the fire protection needs in your building make sure you are very clear as to the fire resistance requirements.

If you have questions about the requirements for fire and smoke protection in your building, give Smoke Guard California a call. Our fire protection specialists can help find the best solution for your building.


1: A fire barrier (Section 707) must have minimum of 1 hour rating, but may extend to a four hour rating depending on the occupancy type. See table 707.3.10.

2: A fire partition (Section 708) must have a minimum of a 1/2 hour rating, and that is the exception for R Occupancies. Otherwise they must have a 1 hour rating. See 708.3