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Fire Doors: Critical protections – but some maintenance required

April 30, 2019
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An open fire door

Fire doors can provide critical protections in the event of a fire by limiting the spread of fire, smoke and heat between compartments of a building or structure. Fire doors are rated based on the ability to withstand combustion for a pre-determined amount of time. The term “fire door” also includes the door frame and closing mechanisms.

Fire doors can only be effective however if the doors are properly rated for the application and installed and maintained. It is the maintenance of fire doors that is often found lacking.

Fire door design, construction, installation and maintenance is governed by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 80. NFPA 80 requires fire doors and assemblies be inspected and tested not less than annually and that a written record of the inspection by signed and kept on file for review

Annual inspection and testing must be performed by a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, professional standing, or skill, and who, by knowledge, training, and experience, has demonstrated the ability to deal with the subject matter, the work, or the project. Because of the qualifications required most clients prefer to contract this service out to a professional door company.

Common issues with fire doors include:

  • Doors blocked open. Storage should not be allowed under drop-down fire doors or in the opening of sliding or swinging fire doors. Swinging fire doors should never be wedged open.  Consider signage on doors and/or marking the floors. Remove wedges.
  • Door track damage on roll-up/drop down fire doors, often caused by forklifts or other material handling equipment.
  • Removed, damaged or painted fusible links. Fusible links create the automatic mode of closure for the doors. These need to be maintained in working order.

NFPA 80 lists several items to be verified during the annual service depending on the type of door, including hold-open devices, fusible link closure devices and door clearances. Whoever does the inspection and testing should be familiar with these items. In addition to these items, the following shall also be addressed:

  • Before testing, a visual inspection shall be performed to identify any damaged or missing parts that can create a hazard during testing, affect operation, or resetting.
  • Fire door assemblies shall be visually inspected from both sides to assess the overall condition of the door assembly.
  • Inspections shall include an operational test for automatic closing doors and windows to verify that the assembly will close under fire conditions.
  • Assemblies shall be reset after a successful test.
  • Resetting of the release mechanism shall be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Hardware shall be examined, and inoperative hardware, parts and other defects shall be replaced without delay.
  • Tin-clad type doors shall be inspected for dry rot of the wood core.
  • Chains or cables employed shall be inspected for excessive wear and stretching.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Oswald’s Risk Consulting services.


For more information, contact:
Keith Furnas
VP, Loss Control Team Leader
440.367.1830

Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.