Fire Doors Offer Unique Maintenance Requirements

By Thomas A. Westerkamp  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Proper Maintenance Ensures Door Hardware Performs as DesignedPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Wall Maintenance Depends on Construction TypePt. 4: Tuckpointing Seals Small Cracks, Averts Major RepairsPt. 5: Sandblasters Effective in Cleaning Exterior Walls

Fire doors are made differently from other doors and, as a result, have different maintenance needs. Since these doors are a major defense against fire spreading to adjacent areas, they deserve special attention.

Fire doors protect openings in firewalls. The openings are required to permit the movement of personnel and equipment between areas.

The door is a sandwich construction — a core material covered with a fire-retardant, sheet-metal skin. During normal operations, it is held open by a counterweight hung from the top of the door by a cable. The cable passes over a set of pulleys and is connected to the weight by a low-melting-point metal link.

Heat from a nearby fire melts the link and releases the weight, which falls to the floor. The weight of the door, which is suspended on rollers on an inclined track, causes it to roll down the track to a closed position, preventing the spread of fire through the opening to adjacent areas.

The most frequent maintenance requirement is to keep this automatic-closing system functioning perfectly. At least monthly, technicians must check the doorways to ensure they are clear and unobstructed so the door can close completely. This task involves lifting the weight so the cable can slacken.

The door should move freely on the track all the way to the closed position, and the worker should clean the track and rollers at this time to prevent dust buildup from inhibiting movement of the door.

Workers should repair any physical damage to the door itself as soon as they find it. This step includes any tears in the outer skin because the core material often is made of flammable material, such as wood. Tears reduce the door’s fire-retardant rating, calculated as the number of hours a fire takes to burn through a door at a given surface temperature.

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  posted on 12/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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