Fire doors are an important part of a building’s fire protection system because they allow for rapid egress during emergencies.
In other words, they are specialized doors with a fire-resistance rating used to reduce the speed of fire or smoke between certain areas of a building.
This article addresses some of the basic code requirements pertaining to fire doors so that you can be more informed when purchasing them for your premises.
Preventing The Spread Of Fire
The components unique to fire doors include fire/smoke seals, gaskets, weather stripping. These aspects are extremely important in preventing the spread of fire.
We received many phone calls with this question: “What material are fire doors made of, and what are their components”?
Where can I find the code requirements for fire doors?
For specific information regarding code requirements for fire doors, read the following from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives
NFPA 101, Life Safety Code
NFPA 105, Standard for the Installation of Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives
There are many types of fire doors. For example, depending on your needs, you can decide between doors that offer 20, 45, 60, 90, or even 180 minutes of protection. Furthermore, aside from the fire doors commonly found in building corridors, the second type of fire door is the overhead rolling fire door which can be found in commercial, industrial, institutional, and retail settings. They are made of steel and are designed to close automatically in the event of an alarm activation.
FAQ Fire Rated Doors
Each fire door comes with a permanent label that must remain legible. The door and frame include information about the manufacturer, length of time the component is designed to resist fire, and whether the opening is to be equipped with fire exit hardware. This is vital because some fire doors are designed to be closed at all times. However, fire doors in high traffic locations such as schools, hospitals, offices and large public buildings are designed to stay open under normal circumstances.
For the convenience of building occupants, can fire doors be held open in a code-compliant manner?
Fire doors must be closed during a fire to block off parts of the building and prevent the spread of smoke and flames. The intent is to protect the means of egress and allow building occupants time to evacuate safely. If fire doors are physically blocked or wedged open, they will not be able to do their job and protect the building and its occupants. For this reason, many fire doors will be labeled with the statement: “KEEP CLOSED”.
As mentioned earlier, though, many fire doors are intended to remain open during normal building operations. How can this be accomplished? There are a few ways to do this. For example, using electromagnetic holders, or closer/holder combinations that contain integral smoke detectors. These doors work by detecting smoke themselves or being electronically connected to the fire alarms. Thus, when smoke is detected, the doors close.
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How do I know what fire resistance rating I need?
Your building’s code will mandate the required fire-resistance rating of a wall in a particular location. You can typically learn more about this by calling your building manager.
The NFPA requires hinges and pivots to be steel base material, ball bearing type, and of a certain size, thickness, and quantity depending on the door size, thickness, and fire rating. One hinge is required for every 30 inches (762 mm) of door height or fraction thereof.
You may be tempted to use spring hinges instead of a door closer on fire doors for cost and aesthetic reasons. This is especially true if the location in question is a school, where the way the door looks is important for visitors. However, note that spring hinges do not control a door the way a door closer does. They are much less durable and may cause the fire door to either slam shut or fail to close and latch. Both of these scenarios should be avoided at all costs as they can cause bodily harm to people. Fire doors should have door closers installed on them as opposed to spring hinges for these reasons.
Fire-rated Glass Doors
Modern building designs are pushing the limits of what glass is capable of. Energy-efficient buildings require more natural light to be brought into the building. Not only does this enhance how environmentally-friendly a building is, but it also affords a more inviting aesthetic for occupants. How does this relate to fire-rated doors? Well, many years ago, wire glass was the most commonly used material to create windows in fire-rated doors. However, over time it was discovered that this material is not quite durable enough. These days, the International Building Code (IBC) mandates that all wire glass have a protective film in order to enhance effectiveness.
The NFPA mandates that all fire doors and frames be inspected annually. NFPA 80 5.2.4 specifies the requirements to be verified.
At NYC Doors and More, we are committed to providing high-quality products and services to our customers throughout the five boroughs—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Our professional staff is on hand 24 hours a day to assist you in choosing the best door for your store, business, or home.