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Fire Safety: Signs of Trouble
Common findings from annual inspections of fire-door assemblies include:
Frames. Loose or damaged frames, missing labels, misalignment, unused fastener holes, or incorrect glass in sidelights or transoms.
Doors. Missing or damaged doors — such as a delaminated skin or face — missing labels, improper field modifications, and lighting problems.
Hinges or pivots. Missing, loose, or incorrect fasteners.
Door bolts. Missing or incorrect types of bolts on the top and bottom, missing bolt heads; or missing rub plates.
Locks. Non-fire rated latch bolts, latch bolts that are binding or missing, loose levels and knobs, and missing strike plate, bolts, and fasteners.
Fire-exit hardware. Missing fire-exit devices, missing upper or lower vertical rods, push bars that do not extend across the door width, missing closers, and broken or missing coordinators.
Inspectors also should check for a mix of fasteners — for example, Phillips-head and flat -blade screws used on the same hinge — that might indicate inappropriate modifications that could void the door's rating.
One mistake made during inspections of fire-door assembly is relying on the labels and visual inspections as the only evidence of compliance. Inspectors also must field test the proper closure and latching of a fire-rated door assembly. The operational test should verify an unobstructed door swing, door closure, and secure latching. The test should include a look at any electronic door releases that allow the door to close. It is also important to observe if the door rubs on the frame or floor during closure.
Finally, the inspector must evaluate the correct operation of coordinators and ensure paired doors overlap properly. The operational test of the fire-door assembly often can coordinate with the testing of the fire-alarm system to verify the complete operation of the fire-protection system.
Jeffery C. Camplin, CSP, CPEA is president of Camplin Environmental Services Inc., a safety and environmental consulting firm in Rosemont, Ill.