For locksmiths providing access control, knowing what the code requires of a labeled fire door will ensure you are not creating a violation which will endanger occupants or get flagged later by an LAHJ or Fire Door Assembly Inspector (FDAI).
Fire Doors are governed by the building code and NFPA throughout design, specification, installation and occupancy permitting of a building. Once a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued, the building code is closed. The Fire Code or Life Safety Code is now in effect for the operation and maintenance of the facility.
But often a building will undergo renovations and changes in its tenancy. Also Codes are upgraded. So there you may encounter doors which fall into various points in the spectrum -- those doors in older buildings which time has seemingly forgotten and newer undocumented doors which may have been deployed but fell under the radar. You cannot assume that the door has been already inspected and you cannot grandfather it through.
I’ve seen Fire Marshals do this, where they know someone in their agency has previously inspected and passed on a premises and door, and they do not want to contradict another official’s judgment. Grandfathering is within the domain of the LAHJ, not the FDAI.
Sometimes different LAHJs inspecting the same condition will arrive at different conclusions. If you have relevant information which might help them reach a resolution, tactfully make them aware of it; for example if a locking device is the issue and you can clarify its approvals and exact sequence of operation, speak up.
Thoroughly inspect all the fire doors and report deficiencies to the owner/occupant (and document the deficiencies), Get authorization to make the necessary repairs if the owner/occupant so desires, then bill them for the services rendered. If you encounter an issue during the process and are unsure how to proceed, get help from the AHJ, the building department, or another reliable resource.
Door Inspection Checklist
Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware will be inspected to verify the following:
1. No open holes or breaks exist in surfaces of either the door or frame.
Holes may be caused by any number of reasons, including removal of old hardware. If the door was attacked and it is warped, creased, or has gashes, it probably will not pass.
Body filler is not a code compliant repair material. Steel fasteners or plates welded over the holes, or filling the holes with the same material as the door, is acceptable.
2. Glazing, vision light frames, and glazing beads are intact and securely fastened in place, if so equipped.
Glazing must be a labeled glass light kit and be properly installed as per manufacturer’s instructions. Like fire door labels, each glazing kit will have a label indicating its intended use and ratings.
3. The door, frame, hinges, hardware and non-combustible threshold are secured, aligned, and in working order with no visible signs of damage.
Assembly components must be securely fastened, operational, and the door must swing freely. Most components of a fire door assembly are required to be listed or labeled.
The label itself may be made of metal, paper, or plastics, or may be stamped or diecast into the item. Unless you are able to read the label, you cannot determine the expected performance level and requirements of the assembly. If labels are missing or illegible, the LAHJ may have to be consulted.
Hinges must be ball bearing type or may employ other antifriction bearing surfaces in accordance with ANSI/BHMA A156.1 – Standard for Butts and Hinges but do not require individual labels.
4. No parts are missing or broken.
Improperly repaired fire doors were probably the driver for ramping up NFPA 80 enforcement. It is critical that correctly rated hardware is used for repair of fire door assemblies. NFPA 80 states the repair of any deficiencies must be completed “without delay.”
Locksmiths can provide electrified access control for specific applications by electrifying existing lock hardware.
Today’s security professional must have a firm grasp on all of the codes that affect how they go to market.