Identifying and maintaining your facility’s fire doors is a critical component of successful building management. Whether your facility belongs to a large retail organization, is an apartment complex, or is a state-of-the-art healthcare center, you are sure to have fire doors to maintain. Organizations like the Joint Commission, the fire marshal, and DNT have very specific expectations for how your fire doors must operate. In order to meet these standards, you first need to know what fire doors are and what purposes they serve.
WHAT IS A FIRE DOOR ANYWAY?
A fire door is any door that has been proven to withstand a fire and prevent it from spreading for a certain amount of time. This type of specialized door is required anywhere a doorway is built into a rated fire barrier. A fire barrier is a wall that is designed to prevent the passage of smoke and fire. You can determine which of your walls are classified as fire barriers by checking your facility’s life safety drawings.
Fire doors, which need to be installed in a rated door frame, must follow the strict guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in order to serve as compliant opening protectives. In layman’s terms, this means that when a fire door is installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, it is as if there are no penetrations in that fire wall through which fire or smoke could travel.
The requirements that fire doors must follow are outlined in NFPA 80, a codebook that specifically addresses the legal requirements regarding opening protectives like fire doors and dampers. It specifies how parts of doors, such as the latching hardware, closer, hinges, windows, and smoke seal, all need to be installed and maintained.
The codes applying to fire doors are expansive and employing a service that specializes in their inspection and maintenance is the best way to guarantee that your fire barriers are compliant. (Hint: that would be us.)
Whoever your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is, they have the power to closeour parts of your facility if your fire doors aren’t compliant with what NFPA requires. It may seem like overkill to close and evacuate an important building like a hospital because the doors don’t work perfectly, but the AHJ doesn’t do this without a good reason. In a building that contains any hazardous, combustible, or flammable supplies stored in bulk, fire is an incredible threat. Once ignited, a fire can rage unchecked through an entire building in minutes. Your facility’s fire doors exist so that no injury or death results from a fire.
A fire door that is adhering to NFPA 80 standards can withstand a fire long enough to evacuate your building. Some fire doors can hold back fire and smoke for twenty minutes before the smoke and high temperatures get through, while other fire doors can withstand these conditions for up to three hours. The technology that has been developed and applied to fire door construction and hardware has been specifically tailored to give people the time they need to leave a burning building quickly.
However, all these advances are worthless, and people are put at risk, if the fire doors aren’t working correctly. For example, your expensive fire door with compliant latching hardware will do nothing to prevent the passage of smoke and fire if it does not have the correct fire door closer installed. Likewise, a door with all the correct hardware will not stop a fire if it does not have smoke seal installed on the frame according to the manufacturer’s specifications. These complexities are what make fire doors so difficult to manage correctly, and so easy to get wrong.
GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME – WITH PREVENT
Accordingly, we advise having our professional fire door technicians handle your fire barrier management. Fire door maintenance is complicated, and NFPA mandates who can and cannot perform this critical task. In the event of an emergency, lives will be on the line. If your fire doors aren’t installed and maintained correctly, your employees, clients, customers, and everyone else could be in serious danger.
Contact PREVENT today to have your fire doors inspected by our in-house certified fire door experts. Our technicians will generate a comprehensive report that will present every detail about your fire doors in a clear and easy to read format and will repair all deficiencies.
When you partner with us, we will guarantee that your fire doors are fully compliant and, more importantly, safe.