Dealing with Fire Doors is a critical activity of locksmiths especially when deploying access control. This is because converting the means of how the door locks and unlocks will be changed from a strictly mechanical operation to one which will involve electronic controls and electrical activation.
Fire doors are considered to be assemblies, comprised of several components: the lockset, door closer and electric releasing device included.
The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) will be very interested in knowing how the new hardware will affect the fire stopping properties of the door, and how the new hardware will affect egress through the door. However, the AHJ will not care at all about how effectively the door will control access into the premises, unless there is a code requirement regarding gaining entry in an emergency. In other words, the AHJ addresses the Life Safety issues and not the Security issues.
Access controlled doors which are along the means of egress are focal points for AHJs. Therefore, getting them right should be your mission as a professional locksmith.
In our age of specialization and misplaced priorities, frequently you will have to deal with integrators who do not understand locks, architects whose main concerns relate to aesthetics, and building owners who seem to care only about costs.
Take also into account that people will be assuming the exits will be operable in an emergency. It is your moral and professional responsibility to do whatever is within your power to assure they are.
A fire door should normally be closed and latched, and it should permit free egress at all times. Although the exceptions to these rules are what make designing access a little interesting and fun, assuring that the rest of the situations where there the exceptions do not apply are the job.
New revisions to NFPA 80 (NFPA 80 2010) will become effective soon, and many jurisdictions will adapt them into their building code. Codes are the Law, and ignorance of the law is not a defense.
If you are dealing with a wood fire door assembly, you might want to consider using an electrified lever. Electrified levers provide an aesthetic solution which provides the same egress capabilities of the original lockset. However they also require wiring of the door.
Drilling through a door without altering its fire rating can be performed by either removing the door and shipping it to a shop authorized to do this, or by someone with Perfect Raceway Certification.
Q&A: Perfect Raceways
Locksmith Ledger contacted Perfect Raceway’s Tom Garrett and asked him the questions about the product you would probably have yourself if you had the opportunity. Following are the Ledger’s questions and Garrett’s answers.
Can you provide an introduction and some background about The Perfect Raceway?
Over the past 20 years, the need for electronic access control and electrified locking hardware has grown exponentially. As a result of this, many fire listed doors and frames have been modified in the field to accept electric locks, electrified strikes and power transfer devices, such as electrified hinges.
Ever since the 1991 edition of the NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors, Frames and Other Opening Protectives, was published, the removal of door core and frame material has not been allowed without listing agency field evaluations.
NFPA 80, 2007 Edition calls for the annual inspection of Fire Doors and Frames.
Many doors that were modified in the past will surely be recorded in door inspection field reports, resulting in potential monetary losses to those who modified the doors and those who own the doors.
The Perfect Raceway Program is the first Certified Personnel Program ever designed that allows for technicians to field modify fire listed doors, while still maintaining the door listing status. We say “Be Prepared” for fire door drilling by signing up for this exciting new program.
Do you have any information on what one would charge to modify a door, above
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