03/26/2003

Putting Out the Fire

Ten Simple Steps to Prepare For a Routine Fire Door Inspection

 

Educational Road Show

ETL SEMKO, a division of Intertek Testing Services based in Boxborough, MA, has been testing and certifying fire doors, frames, windows, and hardware using the well-known Warnock Hersey Mark for over 25 years. Recently, the company took this a step further. Its fire protection test experts designed a presentation aimed at facilities managers, building inspectors, and fire marshals that helps them properly inspect fire doors and windows. ETL SEMKO’s experts travel all over the United States and Canada and give seminars to building professionals to help them better perform their duties. For more information, log on to (www.etlsemko.com/sfibuilding.html).

Fire-rated doors are quite literally the barriers between life and death. Their most important function is to slow the spread of smoke and flames throughout a building. Because of their vital function, they are subject to audits by fire inspectors on a regular basis. A fire door that is not maintained to code can cause problems during one of these routine inspections – and, more importantly, in the event of a fire.

Experts say there are some simple steps facilities managers can take to ensure their buildings’ fire doors comply with local and national fire codes:

  • Make sure it’s on the level. Verify that the doorframe is installed correctly and is not out of plumb.
  • Close the gap. Check for gaps between the frame of the door and the wall, and confirm that the wallboard penetrates the frame throat properly.
  • Don’t cut it too close. If a fire door is trimmed, or undercut, leaving too large a gap between the bottom of the door and the flooring, it will not pass inspection.
  • Look for the mark. Fire doors and their frames must be clearly labeled. Look for the Warnock Hersey Mark, the Underwriters Laboratories Mark, or the mark of another established third-party testing laboratory, for assurance that the door has been tested and fire-rated. Be especially careful of this infringement if your building is being painted or refinished, which often results in obstruction of the certification mark from view.
  • Make sure it’s an open-and-shut case. An automatic door closer is a requirement for every fire door, but can be overlooked during installation or renovations. Without one, a fire door can close too slowly – or not at all.
  • Latch it up. If the fire door’s latch is missing or inoperative, it cannot stay closed.
  • Sign here. Some steel fire doors can get very hot during a fire and trigger the rapid ignition of any combustible material that comes in contact with the door surface. A call to the local building code office or fire marshal can help determine the restrictions on hanging signs on a fire door.
  • Don’t forget the swinging doors. Make certain there are no missing or improperly installed astragals for pairs of swinging doors. Astragals are special hardware that eliminate gaps between doors while closed, preventing the spread of smoke and flame.
  • Helpful hardware. If a tested and certified fire door is being held in place by non-compliant hinges and gaskets, these materials may not hold up to high temperatures, giving the door inadequate support.
  • User error. Propping open a fire door with a wedge, a chair, a box, or a doorstop renders that door useless. Believe it or not, experts say this is the No. 1 problem fire inspectors find during a field inspection. Educating occupants on the dangers of such practices while policing such activity on a consistent basis is one possible solution.

The most important rule to keep in mind when preparing for a fire door audit: What, if anything, is preventing the fire doors in the building from closing and staying closed properly?

Bob Flores, executive manager for building materials field inspections at ETL SEMKO’s North American operations, Menlo Park, CA, is a leading authority in the field of fire door assembly.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

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Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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