Fire Door Inspections Heating Up

Oct. 5, 2011

As locksmiths, we are ideally suited to offer fire door inspections. We spend most of our lives looking at and servicing openings and door hardware in order to protect life and property. We not only install product, but also service existing hardware, knowing when to repair and when the product is no longer serviceable.

We have been hearing about the requirement for annual fire door inspections since the NFPA 80 2007 edition, Standard for Doors and Other Opening Protectives and the NFPA 101 2009 Life Safety Code became widely read. The pertinent section of the NFPA 80 requires that annual testing of fire door assemblies shall be performed by individuals with knowledge and understanding of the operation components of the type of door being subjected to testing. Recording and keeping proper records are part of the process.

Until this past year, such inspections were more of a recommendation than a requirement. However, many states including California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland have already either adopted the IBC and IFC 2009, or have adopted the NFPA 80, 2007 edition. Washington State and Utah have begun the process of adopting the requirement. Adoption of these codes and standards makes mandatory the enforcement of annual fire door assembly inspections. Other states are in the planning stages to adopt this requirement.  

Some states have adopted the IFC (International Fire Code), which references the NFPA 80 requirement. Other states, such as Hawaii, have adopted NFPA 1, Fire Standard. Even though these are two different codes, NFPA 1 also requires annual fire door inspections since it references the requirement of NFPA 80, 2007 Edition.

For a full list of states that have adopted the requirement, visit the International Code Council’s website for an interactive map. The ICC website address is:

At this time, two recognized organizations provide education regarding fire door inspections. They are the Door Hardware Institute (DHI) and the International Fire Door Inspector Association (IFDIA). Both are involved in education and “best practices” development to bring about a system whereby annual fire door inspections are conducted by professionally trained personnel with an understanding of the scope of work.

Although the IFDIA and the DHI both offer professional services and training, there are very specific preconditions each has regarding enrollment and training.

According to available information, DHI requires that anyone wishing to be a Fire Door Assembly Inspector (FDAI) must meet DHI educational and professional standards that include four prerequisite classes. Architectural Hardware Consultant (AHC), Certified Door Consultant (CDC), Electrified Hardware Consultants (EHCs) and Architectural Openings Consultants (AOCs) are automatically eligible to enroll in the FDAI class without having to complete prerequisites.

DHI is in contract with Intertek Testing Services, N.A., a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Intertek has specific requirements for becoming a Certified Fire Door Inspector. Intertek authorizes DHI graduates to place the title “Certified” in front of their name. To be Intertek certified, graduates of the DHI course must enter into a contract with Intertek and pay an annual fee to maintain the Certified title.

Contact Door Hardware Institute or Intertek for more information and a schedule of class locations.

The NFPA 1, 80 and 101 codes only call for inspectors to be “knowledgeable” in the area of fire doors and do not require any type of certification.

The International Fire Door Inspector Association (IFDIA) requires enrollees in their online accredited curriculum to pass a free web based prequalification exam. Passage of the exam with an 80 percent or better score entitles the enrollee to sign up for the online course.

The IFDIA, always mindful that some locksmiths might not know what they know, also offers a free Basic Guide to Fire Door Inspections. This guide can be downloaded in .PDF format for anyone who does not pass the qualification test.

IFDIA curriculum is completely online. The course includes many real life examples of in the field, non-compliant door assemblies. Additionally, there are many photos and direct links to code enforcement sites that you can bookmark on your computer for future reference.

IFDIA self-issues certification to members who pass their online curriculum. Photo ID badges are also issued for free and contain the title of “Certified Fire Door Inspector”. The IFDIA course is also accredited by IAS (International Accreditation Services) a subsidiary of the ICC.

Those who pass the IFDIA online course or the DHI FDAI course are given free membership in the International Fire Door Inspector Association. Membership comes with a number of benefits, including the free online report generation tool, a free profile page and promotion of each association member’s services through a look-up tool used by building and property owners. Local Authority Having Jurisdiction’s (LAHJ) can also look up inspectors, to use as a reference for interested building owners. With these free tools, the IFDIA Fire Door Inspector’s can submit reports electronically, write bid proposals and communicate with your customers in a secure environment. All that is needed is an email address and Internet connection.

In these tough economic times, any additional service we can offer our customers is especially welcome. When you add fire door inspection services, you will be providing important information regarding the condition of their fire rated openings. 

Should you decide to engage in this new income generation opportunity, you will want to make sure you do so in a way that doesn’t present a conflict of interest.  The field of fire door inspection services is wide open. With the code requirements being adopted in many states, the final step is for the AHJ’s to have a ready resource of trained contractor fire door inspectors who can give them reports. Become one of those ready resources for their constituents to call upon.

You can find out more about the International Fire Door Inspector Association program by visiting

As professional locksmiths, we should always be mindful of presenting an ethical and aboveboard range of services.

Locksmith Ledger magazine subscribers can use an exclusive coupon code to save 10 percent off tuition cost when they sign up for the IFDIA online Advanced Swinging Type Fire Door Assembly Inspection curriculum. To obtain your 10 percent off coupon, email [email protected] and mention you are a Locksmith Ledger subscriber. You will receive instructions on how to create an account and input your coupon code.