Fire doors: the heroes of fire safety that go unnoticed. On normal days, they are disguised and function like any other door. Their ability to save lives is discreetly hidden behind a boring façade. But in the case of a fire they know how to get down to business. They put their superman suits on and function as an engineered safety device. Fire doors only have life saving capabilities when the whole fire door assembly is working properly.
Many people don’t realize keeping fire doors in top shape is more complicated and important than it may seem. There’s a lack of awareness concerning fire doors and how they operate because of their complexities. Keeping track that every component is working and every requirement is met can be a time consuming task. If the wrong moving parts are used, such as the wrong fire door hinges, the fire door’s whole performance can be compromised. This compromising allows for short cuts and economizing. It’s only when a fire occurs that the potentially deadly costs are realized. It’s important to know that your fire doors are working properly and meet all the inspection requirements not just annually but every day.
How do you know what’s required for your fire doors to be operating effectively? The NFPA 80 Code, Standard for Fire Doors and Fire Windows, has been evolving since the early 1900’s. It outlines what will be inspected. In 2007, there was a significant change to the NFPA 80. A requirement for all fire door related assemblies to be inspected annually. NFPA 105, Standard for Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protective’s and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code also outline requirements for fire doors. You can download the complete codes here: www.nfpa.org.
Who has the authority to enforce NFPA 80? AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction), including Fire Marshals, the Joint Commission (TJC), and CMS, confirm that annual inspections have occurred by reviewing the required documentation and verifying that the necessary corrective actions were taken to repair assemblies with deficiencies. The AHJ community relies on the expertise of industry personnel to perform and document annual inspections.
Who is responsible for the maintenance and care of fire-rated door assemblies? The building’s owners are solely responsible, but the inspections must be done by “individuals with knowledge and understanding of the operating components of the type of door being subject to testing,” according to 126.96.36.199. The role of the inspector is to simply record and report the condition of the door assemblies to the owner. Owners will have to decide if, when, and what corrective actions will be taken; otherwise they will run the risk of being cited for violations by the AHJ.
What exactly is inspected? The 2013 edition of NFPA 80 188.8.131.52.2, lists the elements of Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware that are required to be inspected. It requires, fire door assemblies to be visually inspected from both sides to assess the condition of the assembly.
Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware will be inspected to verify the following:
- Labels are clearly visible and legible.
- No open holes or breaks exist in surfaces of either the door or frame.
- Glazing, vision light frames, and glazing beads are intact and securely fastened in place, if so equipped.
- The door, frame, hinges, hardware and non-combustible threshold are secured, aligned, and in working order with no visible signs of damage.
- No parts are missing or broken.
- Door clearances at the door edge to the frame, on the pull side of the door, do not exceed clearances listed in 4.8.4and 6.3.1.
- The self-closing device is operating by verifying that the active door will completely close when operated from the full open position.
- If a coordinator is installed, the inactive leaf closes before the active leaf.
- Latching hardware operates and secures the door when it is in the closed position.
- Auxiliary hardware items, which interfere or prohibit operation, are not installed on the door and frame.
- No field modifications to the door assembly have been performed that void the label.
- Meeting edge protection, gasketing and edge seals, where required, are inspected to verify their presence and integrity.
- Signage affixed to a door meets the requirements listed in 4.1.4
Fire door inspections can potentially be complex and if not done properly, it can make you fail an inspection.
See how Prevent’s certified door technicians know how to keep your fire doors compliant every step of the way.