Fire Door Inspection: Opportunity Knocks

References and training courses are available to help the locksmith use his or her expertise to conduct and profit from these required annual inspections.


Clearances at the perimeter and between the meeting stiles of pairs are measured on the pull side face of the door. Wood doors: must not exceed 1/8”. Hollow metal doors must be between 1/16”and 3/16”.

6. Self-closing doors shall swing easily and freely and shall be equipped with a closing device to cause the door to close and latch each time it is opened. (NFPA80-2010 6.1.4.2.1)

Spring hinges are also permitted but the test is performed with the door open 30 degrees (NFPA80-2010 A6.4.1.4)

In NFPA 80, door operation is divided into 3 categories:

1) Self-Closing Doors – Normally closed door which opens then closes and relatches each time it is used.

2) Automatic-Closing Doors – Fire Doors which are held open with labeled fail-safe hold-open devices which release upon alarm and allow the door to close.

3) Power-Operated Fire Doors – Fire Doors equipped with automatic operators. Must be installed so that power to the automatic operator is cut when the fire alarm is actuated allowing the door to close and latch.

Fire doors are not required to meet the opening force requirements set forth by ADA.

7. If a coordinator is installed, the inactive leaf closes before the active leaf.

The function of a coordinator is to ensure that the leaves of a pair close in the proper sequence.

8. Latching hardware operates and secures the door when the door is in the closed position.

9. Auxiliary hardware items, which interfere or prohibit operation, are not installed on the door and frame.

Common “Auxiliary items” include door stops, and chains.

10. No field modifications to the door assembly have been performed that void the label.

Locking devices may be fire rated, but it does not mean that they may be retrofitted on a fire-rated door and preserve the door’s fire rating. Retrofits and alterations to fire doors and frames are limited by NFPA 80

If an electric strike required cutting into the face of the frame in order to install it, it has probably breached this requirement, and the LAHJ may be consulted. The strike manufacturer can provide further support in this regard. Use this knowledge when you are specifying your own installations.

11. Gasketing and edge seals, where required, are inspected to verify their presence and integrity.

LAHJs may not have the necessary knowledge – or, more importantly, the time – to perform these inspections. They have their hands full inspecting all of the other building systems and components.

This is why the revision to NFPA 80 in 2007 is significant, as it enables building owners and others to supplement the inspection process to help assure that fire doors are kept in proper working order.

While NFPA 80 does not designate a specific group or groups to perform these inspections, the Foundation for Life Safety and Security along with the Door and Hardware Institute have developed an online course which enables individual to obtain FDAI (Fire Door Assembly Inspector) training and certification.

In some cases the LAHJ may agree to what is referred to as a Performance Based Option for Fire Door Inspection. Check out ANNEX J of NFPA-80 5-2.2.

Self Fire Door Inspection

Steven Brown’s company, Self Fire Door Inspection, has a web site and publishes a manual designed to provide building owners and other interested individuals with a reference to enable them to perform fire door inspections. It is an informative publication loaded with information and insights. Following are Locksmith Ledger’s questions and Brown’s answers.

Can someone make money doing fire door inspections?

It has been reported that inspectors are charging $15 to $25 per door for inspections. While the first annual inspection will take a little longer to set up the paper work, the inspector will have to determine what clients are willing to pay.

How long does it take to inspect a door and frame assembly?

If no issues are found, approximately 10 minutes depending on the competence of the inspector.

What if the inspector is not sure if a door meets certification or has an issue?

The manual provides sources for assistance. We suggest two ways to get assistance for free.

Can you provide some information about your background in the door/ door hardware industry?

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