A fire rating does not necessarily indicate the amount of time a door will withstand a fire. For example, a fire door rated 60 minutes does not guarantee that the door will withstand fire for 60 minutes. The rating means that in a controlled test environment, a brand-new door held up for 60 minutes. However, in a real-world application, other factors like heat intensity could greatly reduce this estimate.
“Although a fire-rated door is designed to prevent a fire from passing from room to room, let’s be honest. Even with the right door, a severe fire can melt steel,” says Abe Kozlik of the International Fireproof Door Company in Brooklyn, NY.
Also, a fire door won’t do you any good if the door is propped open or the closing mechanism is faulty. In addition, the door has to be properly installed to ensure that there are no gaps around it.
Fire doors can provide peace of mind. However, properly using your existing doors may be all that you need to do in a fire. “In a residential setting, the simple act of closing the door to a room will slow or can prevent the heat and smoke from entering the room and injuring occupants or destroying additional property within,” says Canziani. “If the fire originates within the room, the closed door may aid in slowing the spread of the fire to other parts of the residence, depending on the time the fire burns before being extinguished.”
In fact, Canziani says he’s personally observed residential fires in which closed doors resulted in significantly less fire and smoke damage compared to doors that were left open.