Fire Doors

Fire Door Assemblies

NFPA 80 defines a fire door assembly as, ‘Any combination of a fire door, a frame, hardware, and other accessories that together provide a specific degree of fire protection to an opening.’ These assemblies are commonly referred to as simply a ‘fire door’.

Fire door assemblies provide a crucial life safety function for building occupants in case of fire. They protect the exit pathway from a facility and slow the spread of fire, thus further protecting life safety and property.

Consider a multi-floor building with a fire on a lower floor. Building occupants on floors above the fire depend on a fire door containing the fire until they have time to escape. In some cases, building occupants may rely on a fire door protecting them in an area of refuge within the building until rescue arrives.

From this example, we understand the purpose of a fire door assembly is to protect egress routes and provide safe passage for facility occupants to safely escape a fire or other mass evacuation emergency. A secondary purpose of a fire door assembly is to contain a fire from spreading through an opening until firefighters (or a sprinkler system) can extinguish a blaze.

You’ll most commonly find fire doors in locations such as at a building transition, in a hallway, or leading into a fire escape stairway. They are identified by a label applied to the hinge edge of the door, as shown here:

Fire-rated door label

Fire door assemblies must be installed per the requirements of NFPA 80 and maintained according to chapter 5 of this standard.

Historically, fire doors were not subject to installation review nor formal ongoing maintenance reviews or inspections. But this changed starting with the 2007 edition of NFPA 80.


​Inspection of New Fire Door Installations

NFPA 80 -2010, Section 4.9, Testing, defines inspection requirements for new fire door installations:

Paragraph 4.9.1 Upon completion of installation, all fire door… assemblies shall be tested to confirm operation….

Paragraph 4.9.3 A written record shall be maintained and shall be made available to the AHJ.

​Inspection of Existing Fire Door Installations

NFPA 80 -2010, Section 5.2, Inspections, defines ongoing inspection requirements for existing fire door assemblies:

Paragraph 5.2.1: Fire door assemblies shall be inspected and tested not less than annually, and a written record of the inspection shall be signed and kept for inspection by the AHJ.

Fire Door Inspections:

Doors in a facility are one of the most used components in a facility (next to light switches!) and are subject to modifications or alterations which change their intended function. Even one year old doors may have been modified or altered to not function as intended.

Consider a fire door. NFPA 80 states the fire door most be closed and latched at time of fire. This is the most basic requirement. Yet, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has found one of the most common problems with fire doors is their failure to close! Often they have been wedged open in some fashion to make them more convenient. And this can happen just days after a facility is occupied. Imagine the door modifications and/or alterations that may be made to a fire door after one or more years of service.

DepartSure offers these fire door inspection services:

1. Annual Fire Door Inspections: We perform annual inspections and testing and prepare the reports required by NFPA 80. We submit a signed written report for review by the AHJ. We also maintain reports electronically, if desired.

2. Education - Documenting Fire Door Inspections: All fire door inspections require documentation. And proper documentation requires identifying doors that have been inspected. To simplify the testing and reporting process, we recommend labeling doors, preferably with discretely placed bar codes. We educate your staff how to define and document doors, including on a BBI drawing (required in healthcare).

3. Education - Preparing for a Fire Door Inspection: The best (i.e. lowest cost) approach, initially, is to review fire doors prior to a formal inspection. This allows a facility maintenance team to identify easy-to-fix and/or gross door deficiencies and have them corrected prior to a formal documented inspection. But you don’t know what to fix if you don’t know what the inspector looks for! We educate your maintenance staff what to look for – or we can complete a pre-formal inspection and assess deficiencies for you.

Fire Door Commissioning:

If a fire door assembly is specified and installed properly per NFPA 80, the door assembly should function as intended. However, experience shows the doors often do not function properly for one reason or another. And the reasons are varied. To insure fire door assemblies function as required immediately after installation, NFPA 80 requires inspection of new fire door installations. Here you will find a suggested revision of Section 087100 of the door hardware specifications to include post-installation inspection requirements.

An owner expects a newly constructed or renovated facility to function as designed and intended. To achieve this, a facility commissioning agent (FCxA) is often named and included in project contractual documents. When commissioning a fire protection and life safety system, NFPA 3 (Recommended Practice for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems) is utilized. As part of a commissioning team, departSure serves as a door assemblies subject matter expert (SME).

As part of a start-up team, departSure will perform fire door inspections as required by NFPA 80 and prepare the requisite report.

Sometimes multiple inspections (and reports) are required to attain proper fire door function.

Although not required by NFPA, we recommend also completing a post-installation review and report on smoke doors and egress doors as well. These doors require annual inspections as defined in NFPA 105-2010 and the Life Safety Code, NFPA 101 -2012, respectively.

Fire Door Repairs:

A study completed by DHI and NFPA in the early 2000s found that nearly 90% of fire rated doors are not in compliance with NFPA 80.

Following a fire door inspection, the inspection report will identify and list the deficiencies that will need to be repaired.

DepartSure offers fire door repairs based on NFPA 80.

Most Frequent Fire Door / Smoke Door Deficiencies

The top fire door and smoke door deficiencies include:

1. Painted or missing fire door labels

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

3. Auxiliary hardware items that interfere with the intended function of the door (barrel bolts and dead bolts, etc.)

4. Area surrounding the fire door assembly blocked by furniture, equipment, and/or boxes

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

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

7. Missing or incorrect fasteners

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

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

10. Fire doors retained in the open position

11. Removal of hold open devices (wood wedges, kick down door stops, etc)

12. Gap adjustment

13. Hinge replacement

14. Silencer replacements

15. Correcting or replacing strikes for locksets and panics

Sometimes a door simply cannot be repaired and complete replacement is necessary. In this case, DepartSure will manage the installation of new doors and/or hardware.

Following the repair or replacement of a fire door, DepartSure will re-inspect the doorway and issue a revised report noting the corrected door condition.