A fire-rated door is a vital part of any fire protection system. It reduces the spread of fire and smoke and compartmentalizes a space to keep the threat contained and provide a protected route of egress.
There are several strict regulations and codes that set the requirements for fire door construction, hardware, installation, maintenance, testing and performance. It is important that fire doors are up to code and comply with any fire regulations.
Regulations for Fire-Rated Doors
Fire-rated door regulations can be found in the NFPA 80, NFPA 101, NFPA 105 and the International Building Code, as well as whatever local fire codes apply to the structure’s location.
These codes specify the minimum acceptable safety requirements that are legally enforceable in states and local jurisdictions that have adopted these codes as law.
NFPA 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives
NFPA 80 is the set of codes, standards and safety requirements in regards to fire doors and other opening protectives. It is published by the National Fire Protection Association and is commonly used nationwide by designers, architects and contractors.
NFPA 80 covers the specifications of the fire doors, the opening jamb construction, acceptable floor coverings, mechanical attachments and other installation requirements. It mandates that opening protectives be tested and inspected annually and when replacements are necessary.
It also addresses where fire detection devices such as smoke detectors should be located and what safety labeling needs to be included with any fire doors.
NFPA 101: Life Safety Code
NFPA 101, also known as the Life Safety Code, covers “strategies to protect people based on building construction, protection, and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards.” It is relevant to both new and existing structures.
Most importantly, NFPA 101 is the primary source for exit pathways requirements and their protection. It sets the standards for egress locations, amounts in relation to occupancy, travel distance and accessibility, capacity and dimensions.
NFPA 101 is also the document you should consult to find requirements for locks, emergency exit lighting and markings, and avoidable obstructions.
NFPA 105: Standard for Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives
NFPA 105 recognizes that while fire doors provide protection from direct exposure to flames, they do not prevent smoke from spreading and causing more harm and damage. Smoke can be just as dangerous, disorienting and deadly as fire.
So, NFPA 105 is a set of requirements specifically for smoke doors. It sets the standards for installation, maintenance, testing and inspection for smoke protection.
It is easy to think that just installing fire doors will provide enough protection, but smoke can hinder people from safely evacuating and be just as dangerous as fire. It is best to install both fire and smoke protection to the necessary exits to create safe evacuation pathways.
International Building Code
The International Building Code (IBC) is “a model building code that provides minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare of the occupants of new and existing buildings and structures.”
The IBC establishes the requirements for a building’s means of egress. It addresses the path of travel to an emergency exit, the path through the exit to safety and the point of egress itself. The code also covers the number of exits needed in relation to building occupancy.
The IBC deals with special needs and accessibility requirements as well.
California Fire Code
Be sure to check if there are any additional state or local codes that you need to be aware of. Areas with increased fire risk may require additional safety features that go beyond the recommended international code.
For example, the California Fire Code has additional fire door requirements like the direction of the door swing, dimensions, locks and when to use powered operated doors instead of manually operated doors.
Local fire protection codes are typically built off of existing codes but are more tailored to the specific risks of the region. Additional regulations are put in place to increase the safety of the public and should be implemented in any structural design.
The Importance of Having Code-Compliant Fire-Rated Doors
It is vital to the safety of the building, its occupants and emergency service responders that fire door installation, maintenance and testing are all done in compliance with the mandated codes.
Fire doors prevent fire, and in some cases smoke, from spreading throughout the building. Keeping the threat contained helps occupants evacuate safely and emergency services get in quickly to rescue anyone who is trapped and put out the fire. Fire doors also prevent extra property damage from happening.
When obstructed or damaged, fire-rated doors cannot function properly, and it could lead to deadly consequences. So, make sure to create a plan to keep up with testing, inspection and any fire door repairs or replacements that will need to be addressed quickly.
Fire-Rated Door Alternatives
Regulations are strict, and sometimes fire doors can be unsightly and difficult to incorporate into a design. But there are alternatives that are more aesthetically pleasing while maintaining superior standards of safety.
Fire-rated curtains can meet strict regulations without detracting from the design of the project since they are virtually unnoticeable when not in use. They also can be used where there are no walls, so they are the perfect safety solution for the open-concept spaces that have been increasing in popularity.
Fire and smoke curtains are also perfect for elevators, open stairwells and lobbies.
Smoke and fire partitions are another solution. The codes around fire partitions are less strict and partitions can be designed as interior walls of a building, covering more ground than just a smoke door. For a safe and sleek modern design, the fire partitioned are paired great with KLEIN Glass + Sliding Door Systems.
Whatever your design aesthetic is, SG Architectural Specialties can help guarantee your building is up to code without compromising your vision.
Check out all of the fire protection products offered by SG Specialties. Or you can reach out for more information about customization options for your building’s specific needs.