Questions about fire doors: Everything you always wanted to know

by Lori Greene, CSI, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Fire doors are an significant part of a construction ’ randomness passive fire protection organization, and doors in a think of of issue provide animation safety by allowing people to exit cursorily when necessary. calm, the requirements remain a mystery for many architects and specifiers .
Simply put, an opening protective in a fire or smoke barrier is required to be a fire door assembly, which includes the door, frame, hardware, and glazing. These components are not typically required to be supplied by the lapp manufacturer—in most cases, they can be classify products which are listed, labeled, or classified for practice in a fire door assembly. occasionally, an forum will be made of components that have been tested together and must be used to maintain the military rank .
This article addresses some of the basic code requirements pertaining to fire doors, in hopes of making them a little less mysterious. The best means to find the answers is through asking the correct questions .
Where can I find the code requirements for fire doors?
National Fire Protection Association ( NFPA ) 80, Standard for Fire Doors and other Opening Protectives, is referenced by the International Building Code ( IBC ), International Fire Code ( IFC ), NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and other codes and standards. NFPA 105, Standard for the Installation of Smoke Door Assemblies and early Opening Protectives, addresses smoke doors and is besides referenced in these publications.

Some fire doorway requirements are included within the applicable build or fire code, but NFPA 80 and 105 are referenced for many of the detailed requirements. For product-specific issues, the manufacturer ’ mho listings must be referenced. For case, to find out the maximum fire door size available from a particular manufacturer, one should consult Underwriters Laboratories ’ UL Building Materials Directory or Intertek ’ sulfur Warnock Hersey Mark Directory .
How can I find out more about an existing fire door?
Each fuel door is labeled with a permanent wave label that must remain legible. Fire-rated frames may have a label or imprint from a listing representation. The door and skeleton labels contain a wealth of data, including the manufacturer, duration of time the part is designed to resist open fire, whether the opening is to be equipped with fire exit hardware, and whether the door carries a temperature heighten rate or is a smoke door forum .
Fire door labels normally include a number allowing manufacturers to access more information about the door ’ s master construction. Frame labels may department of state a ardor underground duration longer than that of the door. In this character, the fabrication ’ sulfur rat will be the lower of the two. Some hardware, such as arouse exit hardware, will besides be labeled, but the information on the label is typically less detail .
How do I know what fire resistance rating I need?
The build code mandates the command ardor resistance military rank of a wall in a especial localization, and besides states the compulsory rating of the opening protective, or fire door forum. The open fire underground requirements for respective types of fire walls, ardor barriers, and fire partitions, a well as fastball partitions and smoke barriers can be found in Chapter 7 of IBC .
The 2012 edition of the International Building Code includes fresh tables that help clarify the opening protective requirements. For example, Table 716.5 states a two-hour exit enclosure requires a 1 ½-hour displace doorway assembly, and lists requirements for the field glass used in that assembly. The rate of the door forum is frequently less than the compulsory denounce of the wall, because it is assumed the doorway will have a lower fuel load since no combustibles ( e.g. furniture, storage, etc. ) will be piled in front of the door. If a fire door is no longer needed, it should be removed and replaced with construction of the same evaluation as the wall to accommodate the potentially higher fuel lode .
When are temperature-rise doors required?
Temperature-rise doors are designed to limit heat transplant from one side of the door to the other. If there is a fuel on one floor of a building, there may be a need to limit the transfer of heat to the other english of the step door, so build occupants can exit safely down the stairwell .
The increased use of sprinklers has resulted in reduce requirements for temperature-rise doors. The 2012 IBC requires doors in home die stairways/ramps and exit passageways to have a utmost transmit ascend in temperature of 232 C ( 450 F ) above ambient at the end of 30 minutes of photograph, but besides includes an exception stating temperature-rise doors are not required in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic rifle sprinkler system .
For the convenience of building occupants, how can fire doors be held open in a code-compliant manner?
Fire doors must be closed during a fire to compartmentalize the build up and prevent the spread of smoke and flames. The purpose is to protect the means of emergence and allow build up occupants meter to evacuate safely. If fire doors are blocked or wedged assailable, they will not be able to do their job and protect the construction and its occupants .
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There are acceptable ways to hold open fire doors, using electromagnetic holders, or closer/holder combinations that contain integral pot detectors or are initiated by the fire alarm system. When smoke is detected, the doors close, and provide 20, 45, 60, 90, or 180 minutes of protection. Fire doors are sometimes referred to by a letter designation—A for three hours, B for 60 or 90 minutes, and C for 45 minutes ( 20-minute doors do not have a letter ). however, using the total of minutes is the more common rehearse .
A fire door with a standard cheeseparing and no hold-open capability is called ‘ self-closing, ’ fire doors that close on displace dismay are ‘ automatic-closing, ’ and fire doors with automatic operators are called ‘ power-operated arouse doors. ’ Doors in this last class are required by NFPA 80 to become disconnected from might upon fire alarm, so they are manually operable and can not be held open automatically .
What is positive-latching, and is it required for all fire doors?
Hardware on fire door assemblies has to have an active latchbolt to prevent the pressure caused by a fire from pushing the door open and allowing smoke and flames to spread. A springlatch found in a standard lockset or latchset is considered an active latchbolt ; some fire door configurations require a specific ‘ latch throw ’ ( i.e. dimension of latch projection ) .
A bolt is not an active latchbolt, because it can be held retracted. An electromagnetic lock does not provide a positive latch, because there is no latching mechanism and the lock is accomplished when the electromagnet bonds to the sword armature. Electric strikes used on fuel doors must be fail-secure—that is, when world power is cut, the latch is securely captured behind the strike custodian. A fail-safe electric fall could allow the door to become unbarred, so such strikes may not be used on burn doors .
How is fire exit hardware different from panic hardware?
When panic hardware is used on burn doors, it must be fire passing hardware, which bears labels for both panic and fire electric resistance. A doorway with fire die hardware will besides have an extra label, indicating it is equipped with fire die hardware. Fire passing hardware does not incorporate a mechanical dogging feature—the means to hold the latch retracted using a key, thumbturn, or Allen wring. For fire doors where a ‘ push/pull ’ condition is desired, fire exit hardware with electric latch retraction may be used, a long as the latch projects mechanically upon fire alarm, to secure the door .
Some erect gat open fire passing hardware for pairs of doors can be installed ‘ less bottom rod ’ ( LBR ). These devices use the acme perch and latch lone, with no bottom perch or latch. The advantage is there is no floor-mounted strike, and no bottom rod or latch to become damaged by carts or traffic. This shape can sometimes cause a reduction in security, because it may be more well defeated with merely one latch point at the top of the door. In most cases, doors with LBR devices are required to have an auxiliary fire personal identification number, which mounts in the edge of one doorway and projects into a hole in the boundary of the early door if there is a fire .
Do fire doors need smoke gasketing? Are smoke doors also fire doors?
NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 do not specifically state fire doors and smoke doors require roll of tobacco gasketing. The key is to check the applicable code or criterion, such as the International Building Code, for a restriction on publicize infiltration, typically a character to UL 1784, Air Leakage Tests of Door Assemblies, as the test standard.

For fire doors and fume doors in certain locations, the terminus ad quem for vent infiltration is 0.02 m3/ ( randomness • m2 ) or less as tested at a pressure of 0.02 kPa ( 3 cfm per square animal foot or less as tested at a coerce of 0.10 column inch of water ) —for most door sizes, this can not be achieved without smoke gasketing. The requirements for smoke doors and ardor doors depend on where they are used. For example, smoke barriers, smoke partitions, exit enclosures, and corridors all have vary requirements for smoke and fire resistance, and the applicable code sections must be consulted to see if a specify on air infiltration is established .
When does a protection plate on a fire door need to be labeled?
NFPA 80 allows non-labeled bang plates to be field-installed on burn doors arsenic long as the lead of the bang plate is not more than 406 millimeter ( 16 in. ) above the bed of the door. many doorway manufacturers have tested with non-labeled plates up to 1219 millimeter ( 48 in. ) high with no particular requirements, but NFPA 80 presently requires a field-installed plate to be labeled if it extends above the 406-mm distinguish .
What are the requirements for hinges on a fire door?
NFPA 80 requires hinges and pivots to be steel base fabric, ball bearing type, and of a certain size, thickness, and quantity depending on the doorway size, thickness, and fuel rat. One hinge is required for each 762 millimeter ( 30 in. ) of door altitude or fraction thereof. NFPA 80 includes criteria for the function of hinges or pivots that do not meet the requirements listed in the standard, for example, hinges of a different corporeal, size, or bearing type. continuous hinges and spring hinges must be tested and labeled for consumption on a fire door .
Although it may be tempting to use form hinges rather of a door closer on a fire door for cost and aesthetic reasons, it is important to note spring hinges do not control a door the way a door airless does, and they need to be adjusted to keep them closing the door over fourth dimension. In ordering to avoid having a ardor door that either slam exclude or does not close and latch, a door close may be better-suited than bounce hinges for most fire doors .
Can existing fire doors be modified for new hardware?
Field modifications are limited by NFPA 80 to jobsite preparation for :

  • surface-applied hardware;
  • function holes for mortise locks;
  • holes for labeled viewers;
  • protection plates; and
  • a maximum 19-mm (¾-in.) wood and composite door undercutting.

Holes drilled in the field are limited to 25-mm ( 1-in. ) diameter, with the exception of cylinder holes that can be any size. For other modifications not specifically addressed by NFPA 80, the list agency may be contacted through the door/frame manufacturer to request license to perform a particular alteration in the field. Another option would be to transport the existing doors to an approved facility to modify them, attach newly labels, and then reinstall the doors. Fire door assemblies can besides be inspected and relabeled in the field by the list agency, if satisfactory, but this action can be very dearly-won .
What is ‘positive pressure’ with regard to fire door testing?
Positive atmospheric pressure test is a method acting of testing fire doors that more accurately simulates the conditions of a real fire than the test that was previously used—UL 10B, Fire Tests of Door Assemblies, besides known as a impersonal or veto pressure examination. The International Building Code requires fire doors to be tested using the positive pressure test—either UL 10C, Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assemblies, or NFPA 252, Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Door Assemblies, with the neutral pressure level at a maximal of 1016 millimeter ( 40 in. ) above the sill after five minutes .
The differentiation between the two types of tests is particularly important with gaze to wood doors. To successfully pass the incontrovertible imperativeness examination, some woodwind doors require puffy material—either built-in to the door or frame construction or applied after manufacture. The Window and Door Manufacturers Association ( WDMA ) describes two types of plus pressure openings :

  • Category A doors, which require no additional edge-sealing system (intumescent, if required, is integral to the door or frame); and
  • Category B doors, which have applied intumescent material.

A woodwind door stipulation should state which type of doors must be furnished for the project .
What is a construction label and when would it be used?
A construction tag is applied when a door or skeleton is used in a localization that requires a open fire military rank, but does not qualify as a rate intersection. For example, the doorway or skeleton may be a size that has not been tested, the jamb depth may be larger ( or smaller ) than the manufacturer ’ s listings allow, or the specified hardware may not be included in the manufacturer ’ sulfur listings. This is not the same as a UL or WH/Intertek pronounce, which certifies the product has been tested to withstand fire for the state period .
The construction pronounce typically states the door or frame is identical in construction to a listed doorway or frame, but does not bear a listing cross off from a testing lab because of size, hardware training, or other modification factor. The construction label does not imply the door or frame is capable of furnishing standard fire security, but that it is manufactured with the like materials and methods used in the manufacturers ’ listings. The label is a mean to permanently mark the product so all parties know at a glance the doorway or inning did not meet the listing requirements. To use a construction tag, permission must be granted by the assurance having legal power ( AHJ ) .
Are annual inspections of fire door assemblies required for all building types?
The 2007 edition of NFPA 80 ( and all subsequent editions ) require open fire door assemblies be inspected each year by person intimate about the products. A list of inspection criteria is included in NFPA 80, and written documentation of the inspection must be kept for review by the AHJ. Deficiencies must be repaired “ without delay. ” This requirement becomes enforceable when a jurisdiction ’ mho arouse code references an edition of NFPA 80 published in 2007 or by and by. The 2009 and 2012 editions of NFPA 101 besides require certain issue doors to be inspected per annum .
NFPA 80 has always required fire doorway assemblies to be properly maintained—the 2007 edition good added more detailed requirements and included a specific time frame. Due to improper modifications and lack of sustenance, the condition of many existing burn doors has rendered them unable to perform in the event of a fire. A fire door blocked open with a wood wedge heel can not stop the banquet of smoke and flames, and damaged latches that have been removed alternatively of replaced could allow the door to be forced overt by the pressure of a fire .
Although a legal power may not be formally enforcing the annual inspection and documentation, fire door assemblies are required to be in good working order. Conducting an inspection and making the necessity repairs can mitigate the risk and liability of having fire doors that will not function by rights in a burn. Inspecting newly installed fuel doorway assemblies—a necessity of the 2013 edition of NFPA 80—ensures the build owner has a code-compliant initiation to begin with, or allows the deficiencies to be repaired during the guarantee period .
Fire doors can help compartmentalize a construction, prevent the spread of pot and flames, and protect egress routes to allow for safe escape. however, they must be by rights specified, installed, and maintained to provide the necessity protection .
Lori Greene, CSI, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI, is the codes and resources coach for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. She has been in the industry for more than 25 years, and used to be a hardware adviser writing specifications. Greene is a member of CSI, the Door and Hardware Institute ( DHI ), the International Code Council ( ICC ), the National Fire Protection Association ( NFPA ), and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association ( BHMA ) Codes and Government Affairs Committee. She has a monthly column on code issues in Doors & Hardware, and blogs at ( or ). Greene can be contacted via electronic mail at lori_greene @ .

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