FIRE DOORS – TYPES, INSPECTIONS & REPAIR REQUIREMENTS
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).” – NFPA 101-2012 requires compliance with NFPA 80-2010, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.
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.
A FEW WORDS ON FIRE DOOR CLOSERS
Did you know that failure of a fire door to fully close is one of the most common deficiencies found during fire door inspections? NFPA 101-2012 requires compliance with NFPA 80-2010, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.
According to the NFPA 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 184.108.40.206 unless otherwise permitted by 220.127.116.11. [and NFPA 101:18.104.22.168.1]
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.
SELF CLOSING DOORS – 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. These doors are continuously kept in the closed position except when someone is walking through the door.
AUTOMATIC DOORS– 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.
Although 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 22.214.171.124 and NFPA 101: 126.96.36.199.2, in any building of low or ordinary hazard contents, (as defined in 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206, or where approved by the authority having jurisdiction), doors shall be permitted to be automatic-closing provided the following criteria are met. 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.
POWER-OPERATED DOORS – Power-Operated Fire Doors are doors that normally are opened and closed electrically or pneumatically. These 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. This means that all 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 doors are continuously in working order and code complaint. Thorough fire door inspections and repairs are an essential part of your fire barrier management program.