4 essential things you should know about your fire doors
One of the most common things discussed when it comes to fire doors is that they must be inspected no less than annually. But these inspections are a little more complicated than just ensuring the door closes properly.

Here are a few things you should know about your fire doors:

Can existing fire doors be modified for new hardware?

Yes, NFPA 80 Chapter – details that job site preparation for hardware is limited to the following modifications:

  • Surface applied hardware – maximum hole diameter of 1′′
  • Function holes for mortise locks – maximum hole diameter of 1′′ with the exception of cylinder holes which may be any diameter
  • Holes for labeled viewers (peepholes)
  • Maximum 3/4′′ wood and composite door undercutting
  • Preparation for protection plate

Field modifications beyond this scope typically result in voiding the rating of the fire door assembly. But there is an alternative—NFPA 80 code directs owners (or persons performing work) to contact the laboratory (i.e. Intertek, UL, etc.) that is identified on the label. If the proposed modifications are within the parameters of the manufacturers procedures and will not degrade the fire resistance of the assembly, the labeling agency may permit modifications to occur in the field without the labeling agency coming out.

What is the difference between fire exit hardware and panic hardware?

Panic hardware has a mechanical “dogging” feature. “Dogging” is a means of holding the latch in a retracted position to keep the door unlatched to create a push/pull function, this is accomplished by using a key or allen wrench to keep the latch retracted. When a door is not dogged, it is latched and you need a lever (push handle) or a key to retract the latch and open the door.

Fire exit hardware does not and cannot have a mechanical dogging feature. In the face of a fire if a latch is disabled on fire exit hardware, the pressure generated by the fire may be strong enough to force the door to open, allowing for the spread of smoke and flame. For this reason, latching is required by NFPA code on all fire exit hardware.

If the dogging function is desired for fire exit hardware, electric latch retraction or electric dogging can be provided, as long as the latch is released upon signal from the fire alarm to secure the door when high temperatures or smoke are detected. When panic hardware is used on fire doors it must also be fire exit hardware, which bears labels for both panic and fire resistance.

Are smoke doors the same as fire doors?

Every fire door doubles as a smoke door, but not every smoke door doubles as a fire door. Smoke doors are solely designed to prevent the spread of smoke from one side of the door to the other, but fire doors are designed to hold back both smoke and flame.

Doors that are located in smoke partitions and smoke barriers, are required by the IBC and NFPA 105 to be tested in accordance with UL 1784. These doors shall have an air leakage rating not greater than 3.0 cubic feet per minute per square foot of door opening at 0.10 inch of water for both the ambient temperature and elevated temperature tests.

In addition to having the same smoke rating as smoke doors, fire doors are also required to have a fire rating. The fire resistance rating is the time in minutes or hours that materials or assemblies are designed to withstand fire exposure. The rating of your fire door can be found on the label, and will specify the amount of time the door should hold back smoke and flame.

And of course, both smoke doors and fire doors must be inspected annually.

Are annual inspections of fire door assemblies required for all building types?

Yes! Ever since the 2007 edition of NFPA 80, fire door assemblies in all building types from commercial buildings, to hotels, to hospitals- have been required to be inspected each year. The 2013 edition of NFPA 80 requires that the inspections be performed by a qualified person.

Inspection shall include an operational test for automatic-closing doors to verify that the assembly will close under fire conditions. Any deficiencies noted during the 13-point inspection process must be repaired without delay. Records of these inspections must be retained for at least three years and ready for review by any Authority Having Jurisdiction.

For a more complete list of inspection requirements for Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware or Fire Door Hardware reference NFPA 80

Still have questions on fire door assemblies, read the article “Fire Doors—everything you always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask)” by the door expert herself, Lori Greene.

PREVENT Simplifies Annual Inspections
The fire door assembly is a complex structure with many parts and pieces, PREVENT can help simplify fire door inspections and maintenance. With Intertek Certified Door Inspectors on staff, we are experts when it comes to fire doors. PREVENT will ensure your fire doors are up to code and ready to tackle any fire. We always provide you with thorough documentation ready for Fire Marshal review.

Need help with your fire door inspections, repairs or recertification? Contact us today! 877-392-6074
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