Monday, May 18, 2009

Doors through fire walls

An all too common sight around theatres is doors propped-open with counterweights from the stage rigging system.
Occasionally they are propped open with other things, in this case: a flag pole base. Sometimes fold-down door props are added to the door: And I've seen doors held open with bailing wire tied-off to a nearby object.

Other common fire door violations are taping over the door strike (latch) so that it won't keep the door closed against the atmospheric pressures generated by a fire.
I've also seen automatic closure devices disabled or removed so that the door won't be pulled closed.
The reason you should not do this is simple: The walls around the stage, and dividing other major portions of the building, are fire-rated partitions, typically rated for about 2 hours. The doors that penetrate the fire walls are also fire-rated. If there is a fire in the building, the doors act as a fire barrier AND as a means to cut-off the flow of air to the fire. If the door is propped open, it cannot protect the occupants or the building.

Below is a common solution to this problem: Notice the two small devices near the top of the doors and along the walls flanking the doors. These are electomagnetically operated door holders. They are deactivated by a switch on the wall so that the doors can be closed, and they are automatically deactivated by the Fire Alarm System in the event of a fire.

Teach your students and staff about Fire Doors and make sure that they don't disable or bypass this valuable feature just for the convenience of reducing door opening and closing tasks.  If the door is mechanically loud and clunky, look at having the mechanism(s) repaired or replaced; and teach your crew how to go through a door stealthly, like a ninja!  Not everything requires brute-force!

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