Fire doors require special attention. As part of the building’s fire protection system, fire doors are designed to stop or to slow the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic fumes. The problem is that, like other doors, fire doors largely go ignored. Door stops are installed by occupants to prop open the doors. Hinges loosen, opening gaps between doors and frames. Latching mechanisms wear and fail to fully latch a door closed. The result is that, in the event of an emergency, the fire door will not perform as intended.
Recognizing that improper fire door operation was a significant safety issue, the 2007 edition of NFPA 80 introduced the requirement for annual fire door inspections. The latest edition, NFPA 80 2016, the Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, details what must be inspected and the records that must be kept.
Additionally, insurance companies are starting to require compliance before they will underwrite commercial buildings. Accreditation by the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also requires compliance. Compliance is more than just ensuring the door closes and latches; it requires verification of a number of items, including:
By setting up a comprehensive inspection and maintenance program for all doors, managers achieve the benefits of bringing their facilities into compliance, reducing the number of emergency repair calls involving doors, reducing energy losses through exterior doors, and reducing overall door maintenance costs.
James Piper, PhD, PE, is a writer and consultant who has more than 35 years of experience in facilities management. He is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management.
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