In the United States, commercial buildings are required to be equipped with fire doors. This is true regardless of the nature of the businesses contained within them.
The question is, why do commercial buildings require these doors? What exactly is the law as it pertains to commercial buildings and fire safety?
We’re going to get into those questions below. Let’s begin!
What Exactly Is A Fire Door?
To put it simply, a fire door is a door specifically designed to withstand the effects of fire. Made out of hollowed metal, solid wood, or thick glass, they are big, bulky, and heavy, offering protection against arsons and other types of building fires. Sometimes equipped with panic devices and crash bars, they exist on both the exteriors and interiors of commercial properties.
Other characteristics of fire doors include an ability to block smoke, an ability to close automatically when a fire is detected nearby, and an ability to stop the spread of heat from one of their sides to the other.
Fire doors are required by law in specific parts of commercial buildings. Most typically, they will be found on stairwells, between different sections of a building, and on buildings’ exteriors.
Fire Door Features
As was noted, fire doors are made out of either solid wood, hollow metal, or fire-resistant glass. These three materials work terrifically as fire-stoppers, ceasing the spread of fire almost soon as it meets them.
To offer further protection, fire doors are equipped with intumescent seals. These seals exist on fire doors’ edges and will expand whenever temperatures exceed 200 degrees Celsius. By doing so, they close off the gaps between their corresponding doors and doorways, preventing the inward flow of smoke.
Fire doors can be equipped with a wide variety of locks, from cylindrical locks to crash bars to electronic locks and more. These locks are no different from the ones you’ll find on conventional doors.
Why Are Fire Doors Required?
In the United States, commercial buildings are required by law to possess fire doors. The reason for this is for the protection of employees, customers, and other individuals who make their way into a commercial property. While private residences aren’t required by law to have fire doors, homeowners could still benefit from having them.
In most municipalities throughout the US, the regulation of fire doors is determined by the National Fire Protection Association. While municipalities are allowed to determine their own building codes, they tend to stick with the fire-protection outlines provided by the NFPA.
Where Must Fire Doors Be Installed?
When it comes to commercial properties, fire doors must be installed in a few different locations. The layout of your particular property will determine how many fire doors you require.
First, it’s necessary to install fire doors on all main exits. These will help protect the interior of the building from any exterior fires which might arise.
In addition, if you have a stairwell in your property, it might necessitate a fire door. Other areas which might require fire doors include corridors and horizontal exits.
Consequences Of Not Having A Fire Door
Business properties which don’t have fire doors located in the proper areas can be subject to legal penalty. In fact, even if you do possess the proper number of fire doors, you could be charged for using them in an unlawful manner. For instance, you could have your doors blocked by large objects, preventing them from opening or closing when needed.
If you break fire door laws, you could face jail time. And that doesn’t even include the substantial fines that your business would likely have thrown its way.
In short, you don’t want to break fire regulation laws. And believe us: if you do, you will eventually be caught. Play it safe and have yours installed today.
Understanding Fire Door Ratings
After they’ve been manufactured, fire doors are put through an intensive independent testing process. During this process, they are rated on how well they can handle fire exposure and high heats.
Fire door ratings are generally provided in hours. For instance, a door might have a rating of 0.5, meaning that it can withstand direct fire exposure for a total of 30 minutes.
These doors are generally assigned one of five ratings. These include 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.5, and 3.0. The higher the number, the greater resistance the door will have against fire.
Fire Door Certification
When buying a fire door, it’s important to keep an eye on certification. Fire doors are required by law to possess certification stickers. If they don’t, they’re not legitimate and should be avoided at all costs.
Certification stickers should possess a few different pieces of information. These pieces of information include the name of the door manufacturer, the fire-resistant efficacy of the attached hardware, a temperature rise rating, the standard fire rating, and the nature of its smoke-resistant capabilities.
Assessing The Condition Of An Existing Fire Door
Already have a fire door installed? Wondering if it’s time for a replacement? There are a number of signs that a replacement might be needed.
First, check the gaps between the door and the door frame. If the gaps measure in at any more than 4 millimeters, they are too big, indicating that the door can’t do its job properly. Also keep an eye on the bottom of the door, which should not allow any light through.
Next, take a close look at the seal around the door. If it’s damaged in any way, it (or the door) needs to be replaced.
The state of the door’s hinges is important as well. Each fire door should have three hinges, each of which should be firmly equipped with tight screws.
Purchase Fire Doors Now!
Are you in the process of building a commercial building? Looking to purchase fire doors right now? If so, and if you’re in Napa or Solano County, California, we here at R&S Erection of Vallejo are the people to see.
We offer and install a wide variety of commercial fire doors. Regardless of your needs, our team can help you.
Contact us today for a free estimate!