Codes, Laws & Regulations for the Professional Locksmith

Today’s security professional must have a firm grasp on all of the codes that affect how they go to market.


In 1998, all three of the model code associations merged to form one unified group. The code groups that merged were BOCA (Building Officials Code Administrators), UBC (Uniformed Building Code), and SBC (Standard Building Code). They then formed the International Code Congress who produces the IBC (International Building Code) and IFC (International Fire Code).

These codes are voted into law within your state. Another important code association is called NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). NFPA is the standard for Life Safety Codes, Fire Systems Codes, National Electric Codes, and Access Control System Codes. You will find that NFPA ties directly to the state building codes as they must work hand and hand.

In 2007 NFPA introduced NFPA 80. This was a total rewrite of the standard for door and window assemblies. The big change was the new mandatory “Fire Door Assembly Inspection Service.” This new requirement puts the burden onto the facilities to conduct an annual inspection of critical fire door assemblies and have a written report available for the code official when they make their annual visit. The big hold up with putting this new requirement into the building and fire standard is that most of the state building codes are ICC controlled so in 2009 ICC introduced the 2009 IFC (International Fire Code) to be piggy backed with the IBC building code that is the law in most states.

ALOA will be releasing their new Fire Door Assembly Inspection (FDAI) course in January 2010 with a new PRP (proficiency registration program) to go with it. This program will be scheduled as a 16 hour course at this time but may be adjusted after discussions with accreditation organizations to meet their guidelines.

Two other organizations in our industry currently offer Fire Door Assembly Inspection classes; the Door Hardware Institute (www.dhi.org) and the International Fire Door Inspector Association (www.ifdia.org). DHI has stated prerequisite courses in order to take the FDAI course. It is a good idea to find out about the DHI FDAI course prior to registering for it.

The International Fire Door Inspector Association requires a prospective locksmith to take a free, timed exam online to determine knowledge levels. Upon successful completion of the examination, the locksmith can sign up for the online accredited course, estimated to take between 22-25 hours. According to IFDIA, the course includes a free membership in the IFDIA, along with free online report writing tools and advertising opportunities.

DHI has a contract with Intertek (owners of the Warnock Hersey mark) to provide “certification” of their students. IFDIA has accreditation of their online curriculum provided by International Accreditation Services, whose parent company, the International Code Council is responsible for writing the IFC (as discussed previously). ALOA is in the process of completing their curriculum for a two day Fire Door Assembly Inspector course. ALOA is applying for accreditation through existing accreditation services and hope to have this completed in the first quarter of 2010.

These courses are fee based. However, there are no required courses for being a Fire Door Assembly Inspector. An individual can be a Fire Door Inspector if he or she has the knowledge and experience. This would entail knowledge of fire doors, frames, and all hardware associated with the proper application and operation on these assemblies.

Without sufficient experience, most local authorities having jurisdiction (LAHJs) cannot personally gauge your proficiency as an inspector. This is where these various courses provide value. Although the LAHJ is not required to accept any report, they are more likely to accept one from someone who has been vetted by a third party.

There can be a conflict of interest if a locksmith acts as both a Fire Door Assembly Inspector and the company that provides the necessary repairs. I would consider making it a policy to not bid on the necessary repairs for any project that you conducted a fire door assembly inspection and provided a written report that you charged a fee to the owner. Doing the inspection for free so that you can obtain the necessary repairs is also unethical. It is not unethical to bid a job based on your experience to bring an opening up to code.

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