Attic Access in a firewall

My home is about 25 years old, and the attached garage is separated from the house with a brick wall and a steel entry door. However, the brick wall does not extend to the roofline, leaving the garage open to the house attic. The home inspector never mentioned this condition when I bought the property and it was apparently approved by the city inspector when the house was built. I am concerned about this incomplete partition wall and would like to know if it is a fire safety violation. - Jack

Dear Jack,

A 45 minute rated firewall must separate an attached garage from a dwelling, including any attic space that is above the dwelling. This has been a requirement since the 1920s ( but was not always enforced) and therefore is applicable to your home. The lack of a complete firewall should have been disclosed by your home inspector and should also have been cited by the municipality prior to issuing an occupancy permit. Correcting the problem at this time involves framing a wall where the garage adjoins the attic and installing 5/8-inch fire-rated drywall over that framing. if there is no access in the house to the attic , then a fire rated door also has to be added in the garage.