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Are You up to Code? Fire-Rated Speaker Boxes May be Required

NEC codes for fire-rated speaker boxes are now being enforced in single-family residences, not just multidwelling units (MDU) and garages.

Russound Flexbox fire-rated speaker boxes are available at Worthington Distribution
CE Pro Editors · November 21, 2013

Worthington Distribution learned recently from a customer that fire-rated speakers were now required in the dealer’s locale. Worthington posted this blog warning others to spec fire-rated boxes where required. The piece is reprinted below with the distributor’s permission.

It’s been brought to my attention that many municipalities have expanded their interpretation of three codes - ASTM E-119, UL263 and NFPA 251 - and are requiring fire-rated speaker boxes for all recessed speakers.

I recently took a call from a New Jersey installer who said that code is requiring boxes on all new installs. Previously, this was mostly enforced only in Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU) and garages.

Sections of the code are printed below, but in simple English:

If you make a hole in a ceiling and there is living space above, you need a fire-rated speaker enclosure. If you make a hole in a wall and there is living space on the other side, you need a fire-rated speaker enclosure. (Exception is if there is a door-less opening into that room from the room you are in.)

I’ve always been a fan of speaker boxes for better sound control. I’ve heard tremendous sound improvement on even cheap speakers. So, while our customers may not like the added expense, at least we will get that benefit.

Since there are some brands of speakers that do not have fire-rated enclosures, I am listing the models we carry and the speaker cut-out they are expected to fit. There is some play, so you might find one close enough to the speaker you plan to use.

Proficient metal back boxes (new construction)
PFBB-C650 For C600 series ceiling speakers, approx. 8.25” cut out.
PFBB-C800 For C700 & C800 series ceiling speakers, approx. 9.875” cut out.
PFBB-W600 For W600 series wall speakers, approx. 10.875 by 6.75” cut out.

Leviton metal back box (new construction)
LEVAEBC6   Fire-rated back box for AEC65 Ceiling Speaker, approx. 7.88” cut out.

Russound Flexbox Speaker Box (new construction or retrofit)
RSFBC1-FR For ceiling speakers, can be cut to size
RSFBW1-FR For wall speakers, can be cut to size

Relevant NEC Codes

Here is the NEC speak regarding fire-box provisions:

NEC Code Section 640.25
“Loudspeakers installed in a fire resistance-rated partition, wall, or ceiling shall be listed for that purpose or installed in an enclosure or recess that maintains the fire resistance rating.”

2006 International Building Code Section 712.4.1.2
“Penetrations of membranes that are part of a fire-resistance-rated horizontal or vertical assembly shall comply with section 712.1.1.1 or 712. Where assemblies are required to have a minimum 1-hour fire-resistance rating, all fixtures or devices shall be installed such that the required fire resistance of these assemblies will not be reduced”

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Speakers · News · Worthington · All Topics
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