Saturday, April 3, 2010

Doors - Not just for Jim Morrison

Did you know that Fire Doors must be inspected annually? Yup, just like a Fire Curtain. Ref: 2010 NFPA 80, chapter 5.2.1. Most doors in an institutional building are Fire Doors, and an easy way to verify if a door is a Fire Door it is to look at the edge of the door leaf that is attached to the hinges.

If it is a Fire Door then you will see a small metal placard that says: FIRE DOOR and a bunch of other information about the door.  Look closely if you don't see it at first -- it may have been painted-over -- which is also a fire code violation. Ref: 2010 NFPA 80, chapter 4.2.2.

Inspections of Fire Doors are to check that the door is:
  • There (yes, I find them missing sometimes).
  • In proper operating condition (windows not broken, operating hardware all functioning).
  • The latches work (and aren't covered with gaffer's tape) - this is so the door can stay closed against the atmospheric forces of a fire.
  • The crash-bar (panic hardware) works and allows the door to open (no extra dead-bolts, pad-locks, or chains).
  • To make sure the door is not blocked on either side in a manner that would prevent it from being opened (things like pianos, stacks of chairs or desks, book cases, filing cabinets, cars, trucks, orchestra shells, etc.).
  • To make sure that the door is not propped open in a manner that would prevent it from being closed automatically (this means NO stage weights, NO chairs, NO desks, NO microphone stands, NO speakers, NO road cases, NO scenery, NO flag pole bases, NO . . . well, you should get the point).
  • To see if the automatic door closer hardware actually automatically closes the door (this is how you keep the smoke-in, air out, and keep the fire from spreading).  Disconnected, clamped, maladjusted, or broken closers must be repaired or replaced.
  • To  make sure that 'extra things' haven't been added to the door like kick-down door props (no, you cannot add these to Fire Doors!) or bailing wire to tie the door open.
  • And to check that the magnetic door release latch, if any, is properly working in conjunction with the Fire Alarm System (yes, this is the only legal way to prop a door open).

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