Identifying and maintaining your facility’s fire doors is a critical component of successful fire barrier management and life safety program. Whether your facility is part of a commercial development, is a multifamily residential facility, or is a state-of-the-art healthcare facility, you will have fire doors to maintain. Regulatory organizations like the Joint Commission, the fire marshal, and DNT have very specific expectations for how fire doors must operate, and dictate that recurring fire door inspections and repairs be made for compliance. In order to meet these standards, you must know what fire doors are, what kind you have, and what purposes they serve.
A fire door is any door that has been proven to withstand a fire and prevent it from spreading for a certain amount of time. This type of specialized door is required anywhere a doorway is built into a rated fire barrier. A fire barrier is a wall that is designed to prevent the passage of smoke and fire. You can determine which of your walls are classified as fire barriers by checking your facility’s life safety drawings.
Fire doors, which need to be installed in a rated door frame, must follow the strict guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in order to serve as compliant opening protectives. In layman’s terms, this means that when a fire door is installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, it is as if there are no penetrations in that fire wall through which fire or smoke could travel.
CODES & SAFETY
The requirements that fire doors must follow are outlined in NFPA 80, a codebook that specifically addresses the legal requirements regarding opening protectives like fire doors and dampers. It specifies how parts of doors, such as the latching hardware, automatic door closers, hinges, windows, and smoke seal, all need to be installed and maintained.
The codes applying to fire doors are expansive, and employing a professional service that specializes in their inspection and maintenance is the best way to guarantee that your fire barriers are code compliant.
Whoever your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is, they have the power to close down parts of your facility if your fire doors aren’t compliant with NFPA requirements. It may seem like overkill to close and evacuate an important building like a hospital because the doors don’t work perfectly, but the AHJ doesn’t do this without a good reason. In a building that contains any hazardous, combustible, or flammable supplies stored in bulk, fire is always a threat. Once ignited, a fire can rage unchecked through an entire building in minutes. Simply put, fire doors exist so that no injury or death results from a fire.
A fire door that is adhering to NFPA 80 standards can withstand a fire long enough to evacuate your building. Some fire doors can hold back fire and smoke for twenty minutes before the smoke and high temperatures get through, while other fire doors can withstand these conditions for up to three hours. The technology that has been developed and applied to fire door construction and hardware has been specifically tailored to give people the time they need to leave a burning building quickly.
However, all these advances are worthless – and people are put at risk – if the fire doors aren’t working correctly. For example, an expensive fire door with compliant latching hardware will do nothing to prevent the passage of smoke and fire if it does not have the correct closer installed (see below for more information on closers). Likewise, a door with all the correct hardware will not stop a fire if it does not have smoke seal installed on the frame according to the manufacturer’s specifications. These little details are what make fire doors so difficult for facilities to manage correctly.
Fire door repairs and maintenance is especially complicated, and NFPA mandates that only specifically trained, “qualified persons” can perform this critical task. In the event of an emergency, lives will be at risk. If your fire doors aren’t installed, maintained and repaired correctly, your employees, clients, customers, and everyone else could be in serious danger.
Contact PREVENT today, and have your fire door inspections and repairs performed by trained and experienced experts. Our technicians will generate a comprehensive report that will present every detail about your fire doors in a clear and easy-to-read format, and can repair any and all deficiencies that they find.
Now is the time to guarantee that your fire doors are fully compliant and, more importantly, safe.