Fire doors are doors that close automatically during a fire in order to restrict airflow that feeds the fire. Fire Doors are designed and specified to hold off the fire for a rated period of time in accordance with the location and purpose of the wall in which the opening exists.
They protect property and people. If there is a fire in one of your buildings, fire doors can minimize damage and most importantly fire doors can slow the progress of the fire giving people more time to escape.
Common locations to find fire doors are:
- Buildings with a garbage chute.
- Dumbwaiter doors
- Access type doors. (swing type)
- Rooms for storage of flammable chemicals
- Buildings with a kitchen
- Buildings with multiple tenants
- Ventilation louvers
- Sliding Fire Doors
The Statistics Are Surprising. In 2015:
There was a structure fire every 63 seconds in the United States!
Over 2685 people were killed in fires
Over 13,000 were injured in fires
There was over 10.3 billion dollars in damages due to structure fires
Why do fire doors fail?
Like all mechanical products fire doors need periodic inspection and maintenance. While there can be many reasons why doors fail, we see 4 common situations:
- First if a fire door is not used on a regular basis, people may not be aware it is a fire door or even a door if it is in place only as a fire door. Overtime, with little or no care paid to the door or the opening, the door will not close properly. We have seen where, in ignorance, the door rails are blocked by brooms, barrels, buckets and other items stored in the doorway preventing the door from closing.So over time the guide rails may be painted or damaged. Or people put things in the doorway preventing the door from closing.
- The fire door opening is a main traffic path and therefore the guide rails of the door a subject to repeated damage. Guide rails get bumped, bent, and knocked out of alignment by fork lifts, lift trucks, and carts during the course of a normal day. The problem can come from the cumulative effects of several incidents or from one significant incident.Please note that it is not possible to visually tell if the damage is severe enough to prevent proper functioning of the door. The door must be drop tested.
- If the doors are used on a regular basis, say to close off an area at night, the door may closed enough for security reasons but not adequately to choke off a fire. Operators and maintenance people may not be aware that a fire door needs to close properly not just go up and down.
- Doors are damaged as part of building maintenance. Ironically, often well maintained buildings have a problem with fire doors. Well meaning painters will often paint (over spray) the hardware of the fire door. Paint on the Release Device of a fire door can be enough to prevent it from closing or closing properly. Paint on the fusible link or release devices changes its thermal properties thus making them inoperative.
Fire door assemblies are utilized to protect door openings and maintain the integrity of the fire barrier. Openings in walls have been traditionally classified by fire protection standards and building codes in accordance with the location and purpose of the wall in which the opening exists. (NFPA – 252-B.2.1)
Note that NFPA 80 requires fire door inspections to be done by a qualified person familiar with the manufacturer’s specifications.