When selecting doors for your facility, it is equally important to consider life safety, security, and ADA compliance. The following post outlines national standards for these issues, but you should always check your local code to ensure compliance when selecting fire doors.
Standards set by: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101’s Life Safety Code
Purpose: Fire safety
NFPA 101’s Life Safety Code specifies guidelines for fire doors, which prevent the flow of toxic smoke and fumes throughout the facility in the event of a fire. Fire doors are rated for their fire resistant and protection based on how long they can withstand exposure to fire test conditions. The rating of fire doors must match that of the wall on which they are installed, although fire walls are able to rate higher than fire doors. When this happens, the highest rated door is used. For example, a fire wall can be rated at 4 hours, but fire doors and frames can only rate as high as 3 hours. So a 3-hour door is used on a 4 hour rated wall. Fire doors are required to be inspected and maintained on an annual basis.
Standards set by: Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA)
Purpose: Protect people and property
BHMA’s standards outline the performance parameters of door hardware to protect people and property. These standards ensure that doors and related hardware are sturdy enough to withstand normal use, abuse and even break-in attempts. The door products and hardware are tested and certified by BHMA to ensure compliance. Be aware, these certifications ensure a minimum standard – they are not a recommendation for top performing doors and hardware.
Standards set by: ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards for Accessible Design
Purpose: Providing access to people with disabilities
If you own or manage a facility that is open to the public, you need to ensure that all people are able to independently access and exit the building. The ADA Standards for Accessible Design are issued by the Department of Justice and provides guidelines on accessibility. The International Code Council (ICC) provides specifics on how hardware should be installed and function to provide this accessibility.
It is imperative that you check the local code for what is required from these standards can vary greatly. In general, all doors should allow everyone, including those with a wheelchair, to
pass through. Exit doors should have a simple operation, such as pushing, to open it. Exit doors, and directional signs to exit doors, should be marked with tactile signs. This primer for small businesses is an easy overview of ADA requirements for commercial buildings. [https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm]
Fire Doors play a vital role in your facility’s fire protection plan. Like fire and smoke dampers, they prevent the flow of toxic smoke and fumes throughout the facility by creating isolated compartments. These devices hide in plain sight and are plagued with DIY modifications, blockages, and code violations. It is critically important to make sure your doors are regularly inspected for compliance.
A1’s system of inspections provides barcodes for all devices in your facility, ensuring that each item – including fire doors – is inspected and included in your report. Reports are accessible 24/7/365 at www.a1ssi.com, so your report is available when you need it.
Make sure your fire doors are in proper working order, do a self-inspection today!
- Additional locks impeding egress in case of emergency and compromising door integrity
- Check that your fire doors are able to open and close easily.
- Ensure the floor space on each side of the door is clear of obstructions.
- No additional locks, security devices, or door modifications are installed that would impede the door being opened during an emergency.
- The self-closing device is functioning.
- Latching hardware operates and secures the door when it is in the closed position.
Check out the most common deficiencies so that you can avoid or correct them!
A functional test must be performed by a professional who can demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the operational components of the door. A functional test of fire doors is required on an annual basis (NFP 80 NFPA 101) and corresponding reports must be kept for the AHJ.
During an inspection by A1, inspectors will barcode, label and scan each fire door in your building. The scan is logged with a date and time stamp and digital pictures are taken of the fire doors in the open and closed state. The doors are checked against the product recall database to ensure the safety of your employees and facility. When your inspection is complete, simply logon to Inspection Reports at www.a1ssi.com to view the full report.
Regular maintenance and testing can only help your facility. As they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Your fire protection equipment may appear to function on the surface, but failing to check the working order will leave you in a world of hurt. Systems will break down unexpectedly, and you may even shorten the life of your systems altogether. Here are 6 elements to building safety that are often neglected.
- Fire Sprinklers: On the surface, your system may seem to be in full working order. Unfortunately, most of the serious threats to a sprinkler system happen within. Pipe corrosion and valve trouble are just two examples. Follow the NFPA guidelines for regular sprinkler inspection and maintenance for your facility.
- Blocked Equipment: Any blocked safety equipment is not compliant and is a hazard. Check your sprinklers, exit signs, emergency exits and any other safety system that could be obstructed.
- Old Batteries and Lights: Exit signs use light bulbs and back up batteries to function. Neglected signs can have old, leaky batteries or light bulb outages. These issues are not detectable without opening the apparatus. Check each exit light according to NFPA standards to prevent deficiencies. Another option is to install photoluminescent lights. You can read about them here.
- Smoke Detectors: Smoke detector sensitivity should be tested regularly as well. Detectors that are too sensitive will trigger nuisance alarms. Conversely, detectors that are not sensitive enough may not detect the presence of smoke and will put occupants in danger.
- Fire Doors: NFPA has recently placed more stringent requirements on fire doors. Fire doors must be evaluated to make sure they’ll close and block fire when they need to.
- Emergency Plans: Besides your safety systems, you need an emergency action plan. Who uses the extinguishers? How will people get out? These questions are important for everyone’s safety. Changes in building layouts, or operations can make a plan outdated. If you already have an emergency plan, review it regularly. Most importantly, keep occupants informed. Hold a training, distribute instructions, or have signs so everyone knows how to get out.
Facilities management is an incredibly involved process. Something always needs to be fixed. Taking care of these 6 safety items would keep you ahead of the curve with less risk.