The easiest and most efficient way to tell a fire door from a regular door is by its label. Fire-rated door labels contain vital information and let inspectors know the door is up to date and code compliant, ensuring that when needed, these doors will keep occupants safe and still facilitate evacuation.
What Is Fire Door Labeling?
One of the most vital components to a safe and functioning fire-rated door, though often overlooked, is its label.
The International Building Code and International Residential Code require that doors and frames be given a fire-resistance rating after extensive testing by an approved agency. There are several standards that doors are tested under, including UL10B, UL10C, ASTM E 2074 and NFPA 252.
Once tested, the door and frame receive an official label that describes the amount of time the component is expected to provide protection when exposed to fire. The label also contains other information like the names of the manufacturer and inspection agency and whether or not the fire-rated door prevents smoke and air leakage.
These fire-rated door labels are typically made of metal, plastic or paper, but they can sometimes be printed directly onto the door itself.
Annual inspections are also required to guarantee that all the components of a fire-rated door system are working effectively and remain code compliant.
Where Are Fire Rated Door Labels Applied?
The NFPA 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives states that all fire door openings are required to have a permanent fire-rated certification label clearly visible for the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction).
Fire labels always need to be attached to both the fire door and its frame. In some cases, they are also applied to all the components, including the door panel, door frame, locksets, gaskets, hinges and door protection plates. In other cases, the entire assembly has a single rating.
Regardless, all fire labels need to remain legible and clearly visible, and they should not be removed or painted over during the life of the building. No label means there is no proof the door has been inspected and meets the required safety standards — and can mean the fire door is deficient.
If a label is missing or painted over, it needs to be replaced immediately by a qualified inspection agency.
What Is NFPA 80 Stipulating about Fire Rated Door Labels?
The NFPA 80 outlines what specifics need to be included on every fire label. Typically, a fire label includes:
Name or trademark of the manufacturer
Name or trademark of the third-party inspection agency
Fire protection rating
Maximum transmitted temperature endpoint
If there needs to be fire exit hardware
S-Label or "Smoke Rating" where required
The NFPA 80 requires that fire doors be inspected annually by a qualified agency to ensure the door and all its components are code compliant and properly working.
What Is an “S-Label”?
In some instances, just installing a fire door is not enough. Depending on where a fire door is located, it may need to be smoke resistant as well and pass leakage tests as dictated by the UL 1784: Standard for Air Leakage Tests of Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives.
The “S” label does not specify a certain rating. It just indicates that the fire door assembly is in compliance with the UL 1784 requirements.
Making Fire Doors Code Compliant
A structure’s existing fire-rated doors may be outdated or not up to the current safety standards. In many instances, a fire door may not pass leakage tests or qualify as smoke resistant, or preexisting doors may not be fire-rated at all and do not meet standard safety requirements. Removing and replacing doors and frames can quickly become an expensive and intrusive endeavor.
Or when designing new construction, a fire-rated door may ruin the design aesthetics, tarnishing the overall final appearance.
Thankfully, there is an alternative that can quickly bring a building up to code.
Smoke and fire curtains can be installed above the frame of a door so it meets the current standards. Fire curtains can make the doorway fire-rated code compliant, smoke curtains can add an extra smoke barrier where necessary, and curtains that are rated for fire and smoke can help with both needs.
There are many advantages that come along with smoke and fire curtains as well.
Since they are discreetly positioned within the ceiling, they can be easily implemented into an existing structure and installed wherever they are needed, without requiring large amounts of space or structural reinforcement.
With the increasing desire for large open design concepts, more and more architects and contractors are turning to smoke and fire curtains as a replacement of fire-doors entirely. These curtains discreetly disappear into any design and can help open a space up by eliminating the need for unnecessary walls.
Many architects and contractors have also been turning to smoke curtains when updating or modifying a building with invalid fire doors. In some cases, smoke curtains have replaced fire doors completely to maintain more clear and open spaces.
When a solution is needed to bring a building up to code quickly and efficiently, fire and smoke curtains have become the go-to product.
Ocean Towers, a luxury residential high rise located in Santa Monica, recently went through an extensive renovation process to rejuvenate the building and surrounding community. They quickly ran into issues when the code compliance of the existing elevator doors and openings was challenged.
Upon initial inspection, it was discovered that there were no labels present on the elevators, and no certificates or invoices from the initial manufacturer could be found.
Due to this, the building ownership was asked to completely remove the existing elevator doors and replace them with fire-rated doors and jambs. Additionally, it was also required that the elevators satisfy “S” label requirements.
SG Specialties was consulted, and we recommended that a third party be brought in to test the compliance of the existing elevator doors and affix a new fire label to satisfy the AHJ concerns.
Then, smoke curtains were installed above the elevator doors to meet the “S” label requirements when paired with the re-validated fire-rated elevator doors.
The end result was a code compliant system and enhanced life safety with minimal disturbance to the existing structure, saving the building owners time and money.
Need Help With Code Compliance?
SG Specialties is the leading provider of smoke- and fire-rated curtains. We are dedicated to total service and life safety. If you have any questions on how best to make your building fire and smoke code compliant, contact us today.
And be sure to check out all that our fire and smoke curtains have to offer that can help on your next project.