Techniques and industry involved in the assembly and erection of structures. Early humans built primarily for shelter, using simple methods. Building materials came from the land, and fabrication was dictated by the limits of the materials and the builder's hands. The erection sequence involved, as now, first placing a foundation (or using the ground). The builder erected the structural system; the structural material (masonry, mud, or logs) served as both skeleton and enclosure. Traditional bearing-wall and post-and-beam systems eventually gave way to framed structures, and builders became adept at sealing and fireproofing with a variety of claddings (exterior coverings) and finishes. Steel-framed buildings are usually enclosed by curtain walls. In modern-day construction, sheathing the skeleton of the building is only the beginning; specialists then begin the bulk of the work inside, installing plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning), windows, floor coverings, plasterwork, moldings, ceramic tile, cabinets, and other features. Seealso architecture.
Learn more about building construction with a free trial on Britannica.com.
In construction, a firewall is a fire-resistance rated wall assembly intended to slow the spread of fire from one side to the other, and are certification listed. Firewalls subdivide a building into separate fire areas, and are located in accordance with the locally applicable building code. Firewalls are a portion of a building's passive fire protection systems.
There is a further sub-classification of fire walls. A High Challenge Fire Wall is a wall used to separate buildings or subdivide a building with high fire challenge occupancies, having enhanced fire resistance ratings and enhanced appurtenance protection to prevent the spread of fire, and having structural stability.
Portions of structures that are subdivided by fire walls are permitted to be considered separate buildings, in that fire walls have sufficient structural stability to maintain the integrity of the wall in the event of the collapse of the building construction on either side of the wall.
Fire barrier walls are continuous from an exterior wall to an exterior wall, or from a floor below to a floor or roof above, or from one fire barrier wall to another fire barrier wall, fire wall, or high challenge fire wall having a fire resistance rating of at least equal rating as required for the fire barrier wall. They are continuous through all concealed spaces (e.g., above a ceiling), but are not required to extend through concealed spaces if the construction assembly forming the bottom of the space has a fire resistance rating at least equal of the fire barrier wall.
Firewalls are also regularly found in aircraft and in specially prepared cars for compartmentalisation and competition use. For example, a typical conversion of a production car for rallying will include a metal firewall which seals the fuel tank off from the interior of the vehicle. In the event of an accident, resulting in fuel spillage, the firewall can prevent burning fuel from entering the passenger compartment, where it could cause serious injury or death. In regular stock cars, the firewall separates the engine compartment from the cabin and can, at times, contain fibreglass insulation. Automotive firewalls have to be fitted so that they form a complete seal. Usually this is done by bonding the sheet metal to the bodywork using fibreglass resin.