Fire Door Essentials

Inappropriately deployed locking hardware endangers lives.

When a fire door is open, ajar, or being prevented from closing due to a bad hinge or other obstruction, or if it is closed but not latched, it is no longer a barrier and not fulfilling its intended purpose

When a fire door is damaged so that it does not open, it is an obstruction and a Life Safety hazard.

When the design of the Fire Door assembly has been compromised by alteration or a non-functioning component, it is a life safety hazard, not fulfilling its intended purpose and constitutes a liability to your company.

Fire doors must be self-closing; have proper latching devices, and cannot have been altered by you or anyone else in such a way as to violate the door’s listing in order to provide as much resistance as possible to the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic gasses.

The location of the wall in the building and prevailing building code establish its fire rating; and the fire rating classification of the wall into which the door is installed dictates the required fire rating of the door.

Typically he door’s fire rating is three-quarters of the wall’s fire rating classification. However, a door with a higher fire rating than the opening requires may also be used.

Steel fire doors are “rated” by the length of time (measured in minutes or hours) that a door can withstand exposure to fire test conditions.

Three-hour (180 minute) doors are the maximum rating for a swinging door.

1-1/2-hour (90 minute) doors are commonly located in stairwells.

One-hour (60 minute) doors are used in walls between rooms.

Twenty-minute doors tested without hose stream have successfully passed a 20-minute fire test, with the omission of the hose stream test, and bear a label that specifically states “Twenty-Minute-Rating Tested Without Hose Stream.”

Temperature rise doors are fire doors with the additional temperature rise rating shown on the label. Temperature rise ratings are 250°F, 450°F, and 650°F. The 250°F temperature rise designation is the most stringent rating as allows the smallest rise in temperature.


Basic Fire Door Requirements

1. A fire door must have a label attached.

2. A fire door frame must have a label.

3. A fire door must be self-latching.

4. A fire door must be self-closing.

5. If a fire door is held open, it must be with a listed hold open device which is connected to the Active Fire Protection (AFP) so it releases the door upon alarm.

6. A fire door must be free of any obstructions which could prevent the door from operating properly, i.e., wedge door stops, chains, hookbacks, furniture, inventory, etc.

7. Only listed fire door hardware can be installed on a fire door.

8. A fire door must have steel bearing-type hinges. (Exception: Non-bearing plain steel hinges may be used if they are part of a listed assembly)

9. Doors swinging in pairs that require astragals shall have at least one overlapping astragal. Pairs of doors within a means of egress shall not be equipped with an astragal that inhibits the free use of either leaf. A coordinator or open-back strike should be used to ensure proper closing.

10. Louvers are not permitted to be installed in doors with fire exit hardware or in stairwells.

Every swinging fire door must have a labeled automatic latching device to engage the strike.

Doors which are in the means of egress may have deadbolts only if they are interconnected with the latchbolt. Deadbolts may not be used instead of latch bolts. The required latch bolt length that must be used for any given door is indicated on the fire door label.

Latch vs. Catch: A “push” and “pull” function may be allowed on certain openings. This push/pull function does not include a self-latching device and does not allow a fire door to perform its vital function. Without a latching device the door will not remain closed during a fire.

A catch is a roller ball or similar device which holds a door in a closed position, and is used in conjunction with a pullplate, pushplate or dummy trim, like on a linen closet or pantry.

A latch is a spring loaded device which engages in a strike plate in the door frame. A push pull function is a specialized family of locksets often used in hospitals or health care.

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