Did you know that failure of a fire door to fully close is one of the most common deficiencies found during fire door inspections?
According to NFPA 1 Fire Code, 14.5.4 Self-Closing Devices, A door leaf normally required to be kept closed shall not be secured in the open position at any time and shall be self-closing or automatic-closing in accordance with 18.104.22.168 unless otherwise permitted by 22.214.171.124. [and NFPA 101:126.96.36.199.1]
A closed fire door prevents the spread of smoke and flame throughout a facility. Fire doors maintain and protect the compartmentation of a building, if a fire door does not close the integrity of the building will be compromised and building occupants will be in danger.
Fire doors are required to be continuously code compliant, and part of that compliance means the doors can close without any human interaction. Here are 3 types of door closers that might be present in your facility. Each one has different regulations and requirements. It is critical to understand the importance of fire door closers, and their differences to ensure your facility is code compliant at all times.
3 Types of Fire Door Closers
Self-Closing Fire Door – According to NFPA 80 3.3.101 “Doors that, when opened and released, return to the closed position”
In simpler terms, every time the door is pushed open it will return to the closed position immediately via the closer arm (see picture). These doors are continuously kept in the closed position except when someone is walking through the door.
Automatic Closing Door – According to NFPA 80 3.3.6 – 3.3.7, An automatic-closing door is a door that is normally held in the open position, but closes when the automatic-closing device is activated. The automatic-closing device is a device that causes the door to close when activated by a fusible link or detector. Though NFPA does allow fusible links they are not the most effective and reliable method to ensure your fire doors close in case of a fire. A fusible link is heat activated, meaning it must be exposed to fire before it can melt and release the fire door to close. This helps prevent the spread of flame, but a fusible link will not help to slow the spread of smoke. A smoke detector can sense smoke in the air, and sends a signal to close the fire door before flames can reach the door.
According to NFPA 1 188.8.131.52 and NFPA 101: 184.108.40.206.2, in any building of low or ordinary hazard contents, (as defined in 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168, or where approved by the authority having jurisdiction), doors shall be permitted to be automatic-closing provided the following criteria are met. So in other words, below are the specific rules required by code for using automatic-closing doors.
- Upon release of the hold-open mechanism, the leaf becomes self-closing.
- The release device is designed so that the leaf instantly releases manually and, upon release, becomes self-closing, or the leaf can be readily closed.
- The automatic releasing mechanism or medium is activated by the operation of approved smoke detectors installed in accordance with the requirements for smoke detectors for door leaf release service in NFPA 72.
- Upon loss of power to the hold-open device, the hold-open mechanism is released and the door leaf becomes self-closing.
- The release by means of smoke detection of one door leaf in a stair enclosure results in closing all door leaves serving that stair.
Annex A of NFPA 80 recommends that automatic-closing doors are closed when the building is unoccupied.
Power-Operated Fire Door – According to NFPA 80 3.3.92 Power-Operated Fire Doors are doors that normally are opened and closed electrically or pneumatically.
Power operated fire doors shall be equipped with a releasing device that shall automatically disconnect the power operator at the time of fire, allowing a self-closing or automatic device to close the door regardless of power failure or manual operation. (NFPA 80 22.214.171.124)
This means, power-operated fire doors must be integrated with the fire alarm system of the building. This will allow the fire alarm to deactivate the open doors, and retract them into the closed position should there be an electrical or power failure.
The key take away is that should a fire door fail to close, the compartmentation of the building will be compromised, making your facility not compliant, and endangering building occupants. This is why it is critical to ensure your fire door closers are continuously in working order and code complaint. At a minimum code required annual inspections should be performed on all doors to ensure their successful operation and identify any deficiencies promptly.
NFPA 80 states, “Fire door assemblies shall be inspected and tested not less than annually, and a written record of the inspection shall be signed and kept for inspection by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).”
PREVENT Life Safety can ensure your fire doors are code compliant and will close in the face of a fire.
Need help ensuring your fire doors will completely close in the face of a fire? Contact PREVENT Life Safety, we can help with fire door inspections, repairs and re-certification. When it comes to the safety of our customers and their building occupants PREVENT goes above and beyond to ensure our technicians have received the most thorough training. You can rest easy knowing your fire doors were inspected by PREVENT.
Call 877-392-6074 today to discuss your fire door compliance or request a free quote online.