Fire doors are integral components of any building’s fire protection design. As we know, fire doors protect against the spread of fire and smoke within a building. Tragic fires have led to the revision of codes related to fire doors more recently, but with all the other responsibilities of running a large facility, fire doors often fall to the wayside. However, should a fire occur, fire doors are critical to the safety and well-being of building occupants and emergency responders.
Although it is well-known that annual fire door inspections are required by NFPA code, this isn’t always enough to ensure code compliance. To ensure optimal fire door efficiency, follow these 7 Simple Tips for Fire Door Compliance:
- Pay Attention to Your Doors. Simply by paying attention to the operation of your doors while moving through your facility on a regular basis, you can catch damaged or compromised door assemblies before they become larger problems. If a door is not latching properly, make sure to take note and get it repaired as soon as possible. NFPA 80 requires that any repairs and defects that could interfere with operation be repaired without delay.
- Operate Open Doors Regularly. Some fire doors are designed to remain in the open position until the self-closing device is activated. NFPA 80 recommends that these doors are operated at fixed intervals to ensure that they properly operate. Self-closing devices could unintentionally become stuck or non-operational over time. Testing these doors on a regular basis ensures they will close properly in the case of a fire.
- Use Caution When Painting Doors. Make sure not to paint over fusible links or other heat-actuated or release devices, which could prohibit the activation of self-closing devices. Also prevent any paint from accumulating on any moveable parts as it could prevent the door from moving and latching in the closed position. NFPA 80 mandates that a label indicating the fire rating of the frame be permanently affixed to the door or frame. Painting over this label can be costly.
- Ensure Documentation is Current. NFPA 80 requires thorough documentation of any inspections and repairs made to your fire doors. Make sure that any repairs or modifications made are documented properly. This will not only suffice for AHJ approval, but will also help you to stay organized and aware of the condition of your fire doors.
- Do Not Make Modifications Before Checking With a Professional. Often, doors and frames have additional hardware that prohibits the door from functioning properly. Before making any modifications to fire doors or the door assembly, contact the manufacturer or testing laboratory (i.e. Intertek) whose label is affixed to the door. Many field modifications such as kick plates, door stoppers, etc. will prohibit the door from functioning as designed and is therefore not compliant. The door manufacturer and/or testing laboratory will be able to guide you in making proper modifications without compromising the integrity of the fire door.
- Educate Other Staff Members on Importance of Closing Fire Doors. NFPA 80 requires that fire doors are operable at all times and kept closed and latched or arranged for automatic closing. One of the top cited issues during Joint Commission surveys is blocked fire doors due to clutter in the hallway. Make sure the staff in your facility is aware that you cannot ensure reliable fire door performance unless doorways remain clear of anything that could obstruct or interfere with the door’s operation. Blocking or wedging doors in the open position must be prohibited.
- Make Annual Inspections & Testing a Priority. NFPA 80 requires the annual inspection and testing of fire door assemblies by individuals with knowledge and understanding of the operating components of fire doors. Staying on top of these inspections can help to ensure that your fire doors and frames are working as intended. Annual inspections are more detailed and will catch problems or deficiencies that you may not otherwise notice. If you are not aware of the intricacies of fire door assemblies, using a professional contractor may be your best option.
Setting up a maintenance plan with these tips in mind can help you find and repair any issues with your fire doors more quickly and ensure your compliance at all times. If you need help with annual inspections or fire door maintenance, we can help. Find out more about our fire door programs here, or call us at 877-392-6074.