Fire Code and the Importance of Door Closers

#Fire Code and the Importance of #Door Closers | #ESC_LLC #FireCode #FireDoor | When we’re planning to build a new building for a new business, it’s not uncommon for us to think of the community’s local fire regulations as a source of pain and undo expense. But there really is a reason for the madness, and it’s all about life safety.

In this ESC blog article we’ll discuss door closers and what fire prevention expects from you. In this story we provide a good deal of code, so if you’re rather speak with a ESC fire code expert, call us at 614-754-1393, or use the handy contact form at the bottom.

Fire code requires an automatic means of closing fire doors be used to assure smoke control.

Why We Need LVDCs and LVDOs and Fire Codes to Empower Us

It would make perfect sense to forego the hold-open feature on a fire door in order to assure the effectiveness and integrity of a fire barrier, such as a door and wall. While this is certainly one option, in many instances, especially in healthcare, it‘s common among staff to prop open critical fire doors by non-compliant means. This means it will require someone to physically close them when the need arises. In a fire situation, the result could be catastrophic as deadly smoke and heat are then permitted to freely pass from affected areas into other smoke compartments within the building.

There are three basic kinds of fire doors assemblies under Section 6.3.1.2 of NFPA 80, entitled ‘Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.’ They are: 1) self-closing, 2) automatic-closing, and 3) power operated. The focus of our conversation in this story is number 2 and 3. NFPS 80 is a standard, but rest assure, it’s been adopted into many code references and by many communities where it comes to LVDC’s (Low-Voltage Door Closers) and LVDO’s (Low-Voltage Door Operators).

Here’s the fire code reference that drives the use of LVDC and LVDO usage, whether you’re aware of it or not: According to Section 7.2.1.8.1 of NFPA 101, 2018 Edition, “A door normally required to be kept closed shall not be secured in the open position at any time and shall be self closing or automatic-closing in accordance with 7.2.1.8.2, unless otherwise permitted by 7.2.1.8.3.” NFPA 101 is a code which means it must be adhered to.
We’ll cover more on fire doors and fire code requirements tomorrow.

More on Low-Voltage Door Closers and Openers

On 26 Jun e we featured the fire code that drives low-voltage door closer (LVDC) and door opener (LVDO) utiilization. Here is more background on the fire code involved:

According to Section 7.2.1.8.1 of NFPA 101, 2018 Edition, “A door normally required to be kept closed shall not be secured in the open position at any time and shall be self closing or automatic-closing in accordance with 7.2.1.8.2, unless otherwise permitted by 7.2.1.8.3.” NFPA 101 is a code which means it must be adhered to.

Let’s take a brief look at the last two code references in the two 2018 code references above:

First, Section 7.2.1.8.1 says that doors required to be kept closed (such as fire doors) shall not be secured in the open position at any time and ‘shall’ be self closing or automatic-closing…” Second, Section 7.2.1.8.2 says that the occupants in common, ordinary building may use an automatic means of closing critical doors, but the following conditions must be met:

(1) Upon release of the hold-open mechanism, the door becomes self-closing.

(2) The release device is designed so that the door instantly releases manually and, upon release, becomes self closing, or the door can be readily closed.

(3) The automatic releasing mechanism or medium is activated by the operation of approved smoke detectors installed in accordance with the requirements for smoke detectors for door release service in NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code.

(4) Upon loss of power to the hold-open device, the hold-open mechanism is released and the door becomes self-closing.

(5) The release by means of smoke detection of one door in a stair enclosure results in closing all doors serving that stair.

Section 7.2.1.8.4, 2018, also allows for delayed action closers when the door in question is only required to be self closing and not automatically closed. This feature is often used to accommodate those that are physically challenged, giving them a little more time to evacuate.

If you have specific questions regarding LVDC’s and LVDO’s, send an email to ESC@tpromo.com and we’ll do our best to be of assistance to you.

NFPA 80 Also Covers Fire Doors and Other Openings

A Standard reference by NFPA that has significant weight in the area of fire door code requirements is that of Section 6.1.3 and 6.1.3.1 of NFPA 80. Section 6.1.3.3, entitled ‘Automatic-Closing Doors,’ says that automatic-closing doors shall be permitted to close automatically by means of the installation of a closing device, as follows:

(1) A separate, labeled, fail-safe door holder/release device or a hold-open mechanism that shall be permitted to be an integral part of the basic closing device.

(2) An integral closing device that allows the door to swing freely and that automatically closes the door during an alarm condition, provided the hold-open mechanisms are released by one of the combination of automatic fire detectors acceptable to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction).

Section 6.1.3.3.1, entitled ‘Power-Operated Fire Doors,’ states that a fire door must latch upon closure. It says that “Power-operated fire doors shall be equipped with a releasing device that shall automatically disconnect the power operator at the time of fire, allowing a self-closing or automatic device to close and latch the door regardless of power failure or manual operation.”

From the desk of John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner.

All of these code references can be used to 1) demonstrate your relatively high knowledge level, thus showing a prospective client that they need you and your services, and 2) it validates their need for quality low-voltage closers and operators, thus assuring that someone will sell them what the need. It may as well be you!

Note that NFPA codes and standards are developed, published, and made available by the National Fire Protection Association of Quincy, MA. You can either purchase these codes or access them online for free by registering with NFPA at www.nfpa.org.

If you would like to speak with an ESC professional about this or any other fire- or security-related issue, please call 614-754-1393. Remember, knowledge is power!

Allan Colombo, ESC Media Director
Allan Colombo, ESC Media Director
Email: ESC@Tpromo.Com