Fire Doors, Fire Codes and Inspections
Many of the hazards that fire door inspectors look for when examining fire doors may not be apparent to the untrained eye: Are the labels legible and code compliant? What are the requirements for hinges on a fire door? Are self-closing doors functioning properly? Can people get out and, equally important, can firefighters get in?
The longer the frequency between inspections the more likely something is going to go wrong…annual inspections are absolutely critical.
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Check out this video to see what happens in a typical fire door inspection…
Q&A: Fire Doors, Fire Codes & Inspections
Where can I find the code requirements for fire doors?
a) The Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) on July 28, 2017, issued document Ref: S&C 17-38-LSC from David R. Wright (Director of Survey and Certification Group) with the Subject: Fire and Smoke Door Annual Testing Requirements in Health Care Occupancies. Click the link above to view the full document.
b) NFPA 80 – Fire door assemblies (doors, frames and hardware) are designed and tested to withstand smoke, flames and hot gases during a fire. The standard that addresses the requirements for fire door assemblies in depth is NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. Additional requirements for fire doors may be found in the applicable building code or fire/life-safety code, such as the International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), or NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code. Fire door assemblies must not be modified in a way that will affect their ability to perform as designed and tested.
How can I find out more about an existing fire door?
Check the door leaf for a label. The label should be attached to the hinge edge of the door, just below the top hinge. (The label might be attached to the top edge of the door for some assemblies, such as continuous hinged openings.)
Read the information on the label.
How do I know what fire resistance rating I need?
You will be able to find that information in Chapter 7 of the International Building Code (IBC). But fire codes and fire resistance ratings can be complex and tedious to tackle by yourself. By working with certified fire door inspectors like CIH, you can rest assured that you have put your trust in qualified professionals. Our extensive knowledge, training and experience allows us to consult and recommend the right solutions.
Are annual inspections of fire door assemblies required for all building types?
Currently, in the state of Indiana, only health care facilities are required to perform annual inspections for fire door assemblies. The CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Ref: S&C17-38-LSC states that in health care occupancies, fire door assemblies are required to be annually inspected and tested in accordance with the 2010 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 80). Deficiencies must be repaired without delay.
Can existing fire doors be modified for new hardware?
Certain job site modifications are allowable per NFPA 80. For steps beyond what is allowable under NFPA 80, the door / frame manufacturers must be contacted. Through the manufacturer, the listing laboratory may grant permission to make modifications in the field, based on a description of the proposed modifications. Permission for field-drilled raceways for electrified locks may be requested using this process.
For the convenience of building occupants, how can fire doors be held open in a code-compliant manner?
a) Self-Closing / Automatic-Closing Fire doors must be closed and latched if there is a fire, as well as being equipped with a) a closing device that closes the door each time it is opened (aka “self-closing”), b) a closing device along with a hold-open device that is released upon smoke detection and allows the door to close (aka “automatic-closing“), or c) an automatic operator (aka “power-operated”). If an automatic operator is used, it must be deactivated upon fire.
What are the requirements for hinges on a fire door?
Ball bearing-type hinges with steel base material are the allowable standard for rated hinges. NFPA 80 includes criteria for the use of hinges or pivots that do not meet the requirements listed in the standard, for example, hinges of a different material, size, or bearing type. Continuous hinges and spring hinges must be tested and labeled for use on a fire door.
Do you need a smoke seal when using a continuous hinge?
If the label on your fire door has an “S”, yes, you do need a smoke seal when using a continuous hinge.
Don’t remember the last time your doors were checked? Want someone to help you stay up to code? Let CIH do the worrying for you!
Leave us a comment below with your questions, insights, and feedback, and we will make sure to respond to you in a timely manner. Thanks for reading!
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Benjamin Andrews says
I found it interesting that you state that modifications can only be made by the manufacturer of the door. My brother is building a new building for his business and wants it to be as safe as possible. I will send him this information so he can make sure to buy fire doors from a company that will be able to upgrade them in the future.
Hi Benjamin! We are glad that you found this article helpful. Here is the next installment if you want to read more about fire doors, inspections and such. https://cih-inc.com/fire-safety-fire-doors-and-inspections-in-health-care-facilities/
Feel free to get intouch with us if you have any fire door, fire door inspection or hardware needs!
Chance Cook says
I am glad fire doors are made to withstand smoke. My biggest worry is that the smoke would suffocate people in the room first. But that is not the case with these doors.
Glad you found the article helpful, Chance!
John Carston says
I like how you mentioned that it is important to consider if the door will be closed properly when there’s a fire. My uncle mentioned to me last night that they are hoping to find a fire door gap filler for safety purposes in their workplace and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to consider. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that they can consult a trusted active fire door products shop as they can answer all their inquiries.
Claire Masters says
Now I know that automatic fire doors may be equipped with hold-open functions that activate when the sprinkler system is on. I would understand how commercial establishment wants to have these safety features. It would also be helpful if these installations come with repair services as well.
Access Doors and Panels says
I appreciate this fantastic post that you have provided for us. I have spent a lot of my spare time reading your content. Thanks.