“Boca” Letter / Fire Separation Certification Letter

The Lakewood, New Jersey Rental Assistance Program (LTRAP,  http://www.ltrap.org/ ) requires dwelling units supported by their program to have a one-hour fire separation between the unit and other potential dwelling units in the same building. For new units being considered for the program, the separation between units must be inspected by an architect or engineer. After, the architect or engineer, can certify that the proper fire rated separation exists. This certification is commonly called a “BOCA letter”, but could more appropriately be called a “Fire Separation Certification Letter.”

The fire-separation can be achieved by either vertical or horizontal building assemblies. The openings in these assemblies must be protected in a tested and approved manner. Each fire-rated assembly is tested and listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL  http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/gbxuvhelp.html ). It is quite possible that your separations can be modified slightly to conform to one of the several tested, rated assemblies. It is important to note that SPECIFIC BUILDING MATERIALS DO NOT HAVE AN HOURLY FIRE RATING, but rather are divided into classes of materials. Only building ASSEMBLIES have fire ratings. This means that the building materials have to be put together in a certain way and a specific orientation to qualify as ‘fire-rated.’ It is possible to determine if you have a fire-rated assembly by yourself,  by carefully reading through the UL website and examining the floor assembly and wall assembly that separates the units. With our services, you don’t have to read through all the materials and examine the assembalies.

What we offer is a service that consists of two inspections, initial and final, to save the owner and tenant money. Our initial inspection will determine what, if anything, will be required to bring the separation to code-compliance. The inspector needs access to both dwelling units, and the process typically takes fifteen to thirty minutes. You can walk through with the inspector, and the inspector will show you what needs to be done and explain your options. After the initial inspection, you will be provided with a recommendation letter that states what remediation will be required to achieve code-compliance. Typically, some of the things required are ceiling radiation dampers, the addition of gypsum wallboard to unfinished areas, and/or the installation of a solid core door separating the units. If nothing needs to be done, there is no need for a final inspection. At the time of the final inspection, the inspector will have the certification letter with them when s/he arrives to see that the remediation was installed correctly. This inspection is basically a walk through and takes ten to fifteen minutes. We provide you with two signed and sealed copies of a letter that you can then turn into the LTRAP office. To this date we have helped out over a hundred clients get into their new apartments or receive the assistance they need.

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