The National Fire Protection Association publishes NFPA Pamphlet 80, the Standard for Fire Doors and Fire Windows. This standard is commonly used by most LAHJ. Paragraph 1-3.4 specifies preparation for most hardware, including electrified hardware, shall be performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s inspection service procedure and under label service. This means the preparation of the door and frame necessary for the installation of the electrified hardware takes place in the factory. This paragraph has an exception that details those preparations that are permitted at the job site. The exception does not cover raceway drilling, a critical preparation for electrified hardware.
Raceway drilling at the jobsite will almost always require the re-inspection of the labeled fire-rated opening by an agency acceptable to the LAHJ. The agency that issued the label on the door can usually offer the field inspection service. Check with the LAHJ for agencies that are acceptable for field inspection of the modified fire-rated opening.
Under special circumstances, you may be able to eliminate the re-inspection of the labeled fire-rated door by a third party agency if the following conditions are met:
1. You can determine the manufacturer of the door.
2. The door manufacturer is authorized to drill a raceway in the door as part of their Listing and labeling service.
3. You are able to remove the door from the opening and transport the door to the manufacturer where the modifications to the door can be completed in the factory under the Listing and labeling service.
NOTE: Before removing a door, contact the LAHJ and discuss if the situation permits it.
4. It is always prudent to check with the LAHJ prior to any modifications on the door and/or frame.
You may be asking yourself why raceway drilling is such a big deal. When part of the fire-rated door is removed during the drilling process, the overall material thickness of the door available to retard burn through during a fire has been reduced. If not done properly, the modified door may no longer offer the fire protection for the rated duration on the label, typically 20 minutes. Care should be taken to center the raceway and keep the diameter to no more than the maximum permitted diameter for the door construction, This is typically 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Special tools are available for just this purpose. Fire-rated power transfer hinges are available to gap the interface between the door and the frame. All hardware used in conjunction with the electrified hardware should be fire-rated and labeled or deemed acceptable by the LAHJ.
From my experience, the best method to ensure a raceway is centered in the door is to drill the door from one side using a specialized tool designed for that purpose. Note: However, check with the listing agency that lists the door. The agency may refer you to a tool or process they will recognize, thereby allowing them to re-certify the opening.
When electrifying existing hardware, we strongly recommend using products from a lock manufacturer or re-modifier. The electrified hardware should bear a label. Hardware that has been electrified by a re-modifier will also bear a label indicating the lock product has been modified according to listing agency’s approved specifications.
IMPORTANT: For a re-modifier to electrify existing lock hardware, the lock hardware will need to be a fire-rated lock if it is installed into a fire-rated opening. You can tell if the lock hardware is fire rated by looking at the latch plate for the letter “F” and the listing agencies' logos.
If the door is not fire-rated, work must still be completed according to the guidelines of Life-Safety.
Note: When in doubt, contact the local authority having jurisdiction.
When electrifying a cylindrical or mortise lock, the classroom or storeroom functions are usually the models that are retrofit, depending upon the lock and the manufacturer. In most instances, a passage lock cannot be electrified.
One of the advantages of electrifying existing lock hardware, specifically a mortise lock, is eliminating the possibility of trim compatibility problems. When a mortise lock is equipped with escutcheon trim, the positions of the openings are critical. Sometimes requiring that same mortise lock model be electrified, and eliminating the possibility of an alternative.
An advantage of working with a re-modifier is the possibility of electrifying your customer’s locks or lock hardware. In addition, a re-modifier may provide a loaner product during the time your lock is being electrified.