Door Prep

Preparing Doors for Inspection

The most fundamental requirement of fire doors in NFPA 80 (Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives) is fire doors be closed and latched at the time of a fire. The most fundamental requirement for smoke doors in NFPA 105 (Standard for Smoke Door assemblies and Other Opening Protectives) is smoke doors be closed (and latched, if necessary) at the time of a fire.

Each standard then defines specific additional requirements for each door type.

Prepare or Inspect?

Many facility managers may feel a majority of the doors in their facility are in compliance because the doors are functional and no complaints have been received. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” As a product development engineer for a known door hardware manufacturer, I have witnessed fire door testing failures at UL caused by the smallest, seemingly trivial detail. The following recalled statistic is sobering: In early reviews of fire doors completed by NFPA and the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI) during the development of NFPA 80 -2007, up to 90% of existing fire doors older than five years failed inspection. Equally surprising is up to 50% of fire doors in new construction five years of age (and less) failed inspection.

(Editorial Note: I recall this statistic from a presentation in the mid- 2000s. I was amazed at the implications and recall it to this day. I cannot find the source, but as soon as I do, I will identify it.)

Minimum Fire Door Requirements

Besides the fundamental requirement of fire doors (identified above), NFPA 80 defines a specific list of minimum fire door requirements (

1. Labels (doo and frame) are present and readable

2. No open holes or breaks in surfaces of the door or frame

3. Glazing and vision light frames and beads intact and securely fastened

4. The door, frame, hinges, hardware, and threshold are all secured, aligned, and in working order with no signs of visible damage.

5. No parts are missing or broken

6. Door clearances per requirements

7. The self-closing device functions

8. If using a door coordinator, the inactive leaf closes before the active leaf

9. Latching hardware secures the door in the closed position

10. Items that interfere or prohibit operation are not utilized

11. No field modifications of the door assembly are allowed.

12. Gasketing, where required, is inspected to verify presence and integrity

13. Signage does not exceed allowances

Top Fire and Smoke Door Deficiencies:

The most frequent fire and smoke door deficiencies include:

1. Painted or missing fire door labels is a consistent and highest ranked violation.

2. Doors not closing properly

3. Doors prevented from closing (wood wedges, rubber wedges, kick-down hold open, etc)

4. Improper door gap

5. Poor clearance dimensions around the perimeter of the door in the closed position

6. Auxiliary hardware items that interfere with the intended door function (barrel bolts / dead bolts, etc.)

7. Obstructed openings (The area surrounding the fire door assembly blocked by furniture, equipment, boxes, carpet, etc.)

8. Obstructed hallways leading to an exit door, including exit enclosures

9. Broken, defective or missing hardware items (latch bolt, and/or strike plate, closer arms, cover plates, etc.)

10. Regular Panic hardware installed on doors that are required to utilize fire exit hardware

11. Missing or incorrect fasteners

12. Bottom flush bolts that do not project ½” into the strike

13. Bottom latch bolts on exit hardware that do not project into the strike or threshold

14. Fire doors retained in the open position

15. Hinge replacement

16. Silencer replacements

17. Correcting or replacing strikes for locksets and panics

The Pre-Inspection Review Makes Sense

DepartSure recommends reviewing doors for compliance with requirements prior to performing and documenting a formal inspection. The reasons – the common deficiencies – are outlined above.

Most people would take time to study before a career advancement exam. Why not take time to ready your facility doors prior to a documented fire door inspection?

DepartSure teaches your staff to prepare for door inspections by knowing compliance requirements. Correcting even minor deficiencies will accelerate the inspection process and lead to better inspection results.

Contact DepartSure now and have our knowledgeable instructor lead a training course at your facility today.