In a perfect world, every facility manager would know the local and national fire door code requirements like the back of their hand; they would have the time and resources to inspect their own fire doors, report on the deficiencies and make the repairs themselves. Maybe some of them do, but with all the other responsibilities of being a facility manager it’s important to know the different resources, organizations and experts that can help.
DHI (Door and Hardware Institute) certified fire door inspectors go through extensive training to ensure they have the ability to inspect your fire doors accurately and up to code standards. We decided to ask some of our Fire Door Inspectors, Jon Pitcock and Frank Garcia, about their experiences in the field. Combined they have over 30 years of experience with fire doors. Here’s what we found out:
How did you become a certified fire door inspector?
Jon: In addition to over 20 years in the field, I completed the Certified Fire and Egress Door Inspector Program. The Door and Hardware Institute (DHI), in partnership with Intertek (through its Warnock Hersey Mark) has developed a comprehensive training program that I took part in. It trained me how to efficiently perform and document fire door inspections.
* You can find out more about the program here.
What’s the biggest misconception about fire doors?
Frank: The biggest misconception about fire doors is that either they don’t have to be maintained or they are easy to maintain. Any slight alteration to the door or its surroundings can affect the performance of a door. NFPA 80 & NFPA 105 requires fire door and smoke door inspections to be carried out annually. To keep compliant the code recommends periodic checks should be carried out at least every 6 months, or more regularly depending on the traffic using the door. The best way to maintain fire doors is to set up a maintenance plan. If you’re a facility manager with lots of fire doors this allows you to break up the inspections over a period of time. A maintenance plan also allows you to budget and ensures that your fire doors are being inspected on schedule.
What’s the number one deficiency you find with fire doors?
Frank: There are a number of external factors that can put a strain on equipment that leads to failure of fire doors. The number one deficiency is doors not latching properly. Although this is the most common deficiency, there are many types of failures that usually stem from frequent usage and field modifications. Gaps and fire seals are also very common issues. Sometimes non-compliance is caused by doors not being properly specified and installed correctly from the beginning.
Why is it important to use a certified fire door inspector?
Jon: So many times, fire doors are non-compliant and it’s almost impossible to tell with just a glance. It takes time, the right resources and knowledge to accurately inspect a fire door. Having a certified door inspector inspect and document all deficiencies not only saves you time, but saves you from unwanted citations and hassle. Certified door inspectors can also repair your failed doors for you, and coordinate with Intertek to re-certify your doors if the label is missing or illegible. Intertek will only re-certify your fire doors if they are previously inspected and all deficiencies are repaired up to code standards.
Why use an outside vendor?
Jon: We do this every day and have seen every type of issue that has to do with fire doors imaginable. We also work with hardware and door manufacturers so it’s easier for us to spec and repair deficiencies – faster and right the first time. This can help facility managers to avoid all non-compliant field modifications.
Need help with your fire door inspections, repairs or re-certification? Visit our website for more info!