I'll kick off this new section with a how-to topic I've been thinking of posting for a long time. Firestopping. A lot of municipalities require firestopping in combustible construction per IRC 602.8...New homes, finished basements, and the like. If you're finishing your basement, building a new home, adding soffits to an existing room, or adding an addition, the code requires fireblocking.
This will be a pictorial how-to, and it will take me a while to compile pictures and discuss each one. So, this thing will evolve over the coming weeks. I'll post pics and describe the violation or the fix.
Fireblocking requirements are clear in the code, but the enforcement can be subjective. It is always best to discuss fireblocking requirements and methods with your inspector before doing the work.
So, how do I know what needs to be fireblocked you say? The best description I can give is to tell you to imagine setting off a smoke bomb inside a finished/sheetrocked wall. Is that smoke confined to the wall stud space or can it move to any other spaces like soffits, furdowns, floor joists, dead spaces behind the wall (if only rocked on one side) or anywhere else? If it is confined, you're good. If not, you need to fireblock. Even small spaces around plumbing pipes or holes that wires go through need fireblocking.
I've been in homes that burned that were fireblocked, and I've been in homes that were not. I can tell you that it does work in slowing the progression of a fire. I've even seen properly firestopped stud spaces have fires that ignited and then burned out due to lack of oxygen getting to the space. A fire in a stud space will suck air through a small hole in a top plate with a great amount of vacuum, and it will look like a torch as the oxygen enters the space.
EDIT: Since this thread has covered other fire protection issues as it has evolved, I'm going to try to cover all the fire protection issues covered by the residential code (single residences only), in addition to fireblocking. I'm not going to get into firewalls and fire separation because that is a totally different topic.