Month: August 2015
The Confusing World of Fire Doors and Barriers
You may have heard of fire doors, but do you know their purpose? Fire doors have a fire resistant rating to reduce fire and smoke spreading throughout a building. These doors are intended to buy occupants time to exit the building safely and minimize property damage. Not much is out there explaining fire doors, and there is a lot to know.
With a multitude of combinations of ratings and styles, it’s hard to know whether your fire doors are compliant. A working fire door consists of the door, frame, hardware, and glazing which all need to work together as one assembly. Fire doors can have ratings for 20, 45, 60, 90, or 180 minutes. The doors must meet NFPA 80 and NFPA 101 requirements for a building.
Things to Remember for Your Fire Door
Here are the major rules for fire doors, fire shutters, fire windows, and opening protectives other than fire dampers and fabric fire safety curtains.
- Fire doors must be self-closing, positive latching and must match the fire rating of the wall to which it ‘s attached.
- Doors, shutters, and windows must be fully operational at all times and must either be kept closed and latched or arranged for automatic closing.
- Keep door openings and their surrounding areas clear of anything that may obstruct or interfere with the free operation of the door. If blocking becomes an issue for a particular door, install a barrier to prevent material buildup.
- Do not block or wedge doors open. They are supposed to remain closed.
- When a fire door needs a replacement, the new door needs to meet the requirements for fire protection including new installation and testing standards. Consulting a certified expert will clarify what standards must be met.
- Only a certified, approved expert may label a fire door.
- Individuals performing the labeling service must prove their qualifications to the AHJ before performing the work.
- Fire door labels have to include the words “field inspected” or “field labeled,” the words “fire door” or “fire door frame,” a mark from third-party certification agency, the fire protection rating, the unique serial number, and the fire test standard.
- Never replace a fire rated door with a non-rated door. It will render your protective barrier useless.
- When a fire door or fire window is no longer needed as an opening, you should replace it with a matching fire rated wall.
- A record of all inspections and testing shall be signed by the inspector and kept for inspection by the AHJ, and you should keep your records for at least 3 years.
- If you notice any part of your fire door is missing or broken, or it no longer functions as designed, you should call a certified professional to assess the damage.
- Don’t paint your fire door. If want a specific look for your fire door, call a certified professional.
- Repairs must be completed ASAP. Any visible damage or inspection deficiencies need to be addressed right away.
- Keep detailed records of any maintenance performed on your doors.
When reading NFPA 80, you’ll notice many more specific rules and requirements for each type of door– for example, a swinging fire door’s rules differ slightly from a sliding door’s. The simplest way to learn is to contact a certified professional for specifics on your situation. Don’t change your door, alter it, or remove it without consulting a knowledgeable, certified professional.