Understanding Legal Obligations for Fire Door Compliance

Fire doors are an essential safety feature in all types of buildings, protecting people and assets from the dangers of fire and smoke. They’re typically located in stairwells, corridors and exit passageways, but there are also many other areas that require fire doors. For example, if you’re a business owner with multiple floors and you don’t have the required number of fire doors in place, you could face serious legal penalties.

It is essential that all doors and components used in a fire doorset are third-party certified. This is because the entire doorset must pass a rigorous testing and approval process to ensure it will perform safely in the event of a fire. It’s also important that when any parts of a fire door are replaced, they are identical to the original specification. This includes ironmongery, door furniture and door hardware.

All a fire door needs to do is hinder the spread of flames and smoke, so it should be self-closing and have a positive latch. It must also have limited undercuts and gaps, as well as restricted glazing. Additionally, the hinges must be of a specified material, size and bearing type to minimize wear over time. NFPA 80 requires that hinges and pivots use ball bearings.

Another legal requirement for fire doors is that they have a latch bolt that can be activated from the inside to hold the door in place during a fire. The latch bolt must disable itself when a certain temperature is reached, as this will help to protect people and property from being trapped in the event of a fire.

While there are a variety of fire rated door materials on the market, steel is a popular choice because it’s non-combustible and won’t feed the fire. Other options include hollow gypsum filled steel and pultruded fiberglass (FRP).

Fire doors should be free of any obstructions that could prevent them from operating properly. This includes door stops, chains and hangers, as well as doors that are hung too close to other openings in the wall or frame.

All fire doors must be labeled, showing the name of the manufacturer or other identification readily traceable back to the manufacturer, the date of the last inspection, and for doors in a means of egress, their transmission temperature end point.

If you’re installing new fire doors in your building or replacing existing ones, it’s worth reviewing the requirements laid out in NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. These are the main documents that set out the egress pathways and their protection, as well as any supplementary requirements for locking systems, flammability, avoidable obstructions and annual inspections.

The 2017 edition of NFPA 80 states that all fire doors must be inspected annually by someone who has a thorough understanding of the product. If there are any issues that are identified, the door must be repaired and then re-tested for acceptance.