Serving as an integral part of a building’s fire protection system, fire-rated doors minimize the break in the safety barrier provided by the fire walls. According to the U.S. Office of Compliance, properly installed and maintained fire doors, frames, and hardware are fundamental to interrupting the spread of smoke, toxic gases, and fire.
Locations to Install Fire Doors
While many requirements exist for where a fire door must be placed, there are generally six locations that you should be aware of. These include doors that:
– Are marked with exit signs
– Provide access to hallways or long corridors
– Lead to stairwells and elevator shafts
– Close in hazardous areas, such as flammable storage or boiler rooms
– Divide occupancies or smaller fire areas in the building
– Separate buildings
How to Choose a Fire Rating for a Door
Fire ratings range from 20 minutes to three hours, which indicate the length of time the door can withstand the blaze. These classifications are determined by the manufacturer’s controlled tests. The strength of the door’s fire rating depends on where the access is located and typically equals three-fourths of the fire rating for the surrounding wall. However, a door with a higher fire rating can be installed for greater security.
Where to Locate Fire Barrier Codes
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides the principal requirements for fire doors, which are outlined in Standard Number 80, “Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.”
While these detailed instructions are followed by the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Building Code (IBC), both organizations also supply their own installation guides.
Additionally, the local fire code, the specific building code, the product’s manufacturer, and the insurance company may mandate extra conditions to ensure maximum fire protection.
Fire Door Safety Concerns
Safety and liability are the two main concerns of business owners when it comes to operating and maintaining fire-barrier doors. Every door must retain a legible certification label on the inside edge, which is provided by the testing laboratory. This tag not only proves safety compliance but also supplies important information when it is time to perform maintenance or replace the door.
In high-traffic areas, residents and employees often prop open fire safety doors, which creates a significant hazard. OSHA regulations require that fire exit doors are equipped with electromagnetic latches that automatically release when fire alarms activate. The doors should never be held open with blocks, wedges, ropes, or chains.
NFPA 80 also mandates that fire-door assemblies must be inspected annually and repaired immediately by experts in the industry.