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Fire Door Testing in San Francisco

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Drop Testing and Annual Fire Door Inspections

Is your building’s fire protection system in compliance? Do you trust that your fire doors will work as intended in the event of an emergency? Don’t take unnecessary risks – fire doors are required to be tested at least once annually, according to the National Fire Protection Agency and local building codes, and the safety of your building and all of the people in it depend on you staying current with these requirements.

If you’re looking for fire door inspectors or drop testing services in the San Francisco area, give Union Door a call. We have over a decade of experience and an in-house fire inspector (CFDAI) who is ready and available to make your annual fire door certification process as simple and convenient as possible.
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What are Fire Doors?

Fire doors, also called fire-rated or fire-resistant doors, are uniquely constructed to slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke in order to allow safe passage between areas. Fire doors come in all shapes and sizes - from standard-sized pedestrian doors to large, rolling fire doors common in commercial and industrial buildings.

All fire doors and their components are required to meet certain standards, as outlined by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and international and local building codes. One of the most important requirements is that they have a fire-resistance rating legibly displayed on a permanent label. This label confirms that the door and its components have been tested and approved by a known certification agency. The rating listed on the label describes the amount of time (in minutes or hours) the door will provide protection when exposed to fire.
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Fire Resistance Ratings

Fire resistance ratings are determined by measuring the amount of time a fire protection component can withstand flame and heat. The ratings are granted by third-party testing agencies and are labeled on the products in the form of minutes or hours. Common fire resistance ratings include 20/45/60/90/180 minutes.

Fire-Resistance Rating vs. Fire Protection Rating

Fire-resistance ratings and fire protection ratings may sound like the same thing, but there is a difference between these two terms. Components that possess a fire-resistance rating have been tested to measure their ability to stop the transmission of flames, smoke, and radiant heat. Components with a fire protection rating, on the other hand, have been measured for their ability to stop flames and smoke but not radiant heat.

Fire Door Requirements

According to the National Fire Protection Association, commercial fire doors and their components must be inspected at least once annually to ensure their reliability and performance. Given the purpose of fire-resistant doors and their importance in protecting property and human life, annual inspections should only be conducted by trained, licensed inspectors.

Fire-rated doors must meet or exceed certain safety requirements. The following are some of the standard construction requirements for fire doors, although this is not an all-inclusive list.
  • A fire door assembly (door, frame, & hardware) must meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 80 and the applicable building code, such as and the California fire code. 
  • Fire doors must be self-closing and self-latching.
  • The fire door must have an attached label showing the fire rating and certifying body
  • Appropriate glazing materials are used

Fire Door Certification and Labeling

Fire doors are designed to block the spread of flames to protect building occupants and minimize property damage. But how do you know which of your doors are fire rated? The easiest way to tell is to see if there is an embossed label on the hinge side of the door. This label will contain valuable information regarding the certification body (such as UL or FM) as well as the door identification number and fire rating. All certified fire doors will have one of these labels unless it has somehow been tampered with.

Removing, tampering with, or painting over a fire door label can void its certification, and in turn, cause you to fail your fire door inspection. Getting a door recertified is no easy task – it is both expensive and time-consuming as there are only a few certification bodies available to do it. The best thing to do is to ensure your label remains in good shape and is legible. Don’t attempt to paint over it and be careful not to inflict any damage that could render it illegible.

Fire Door Testing Requirements

Fire doors must be tested at least once per year and documented that they meet the requirements set forth by NFPA 80. These standards address the installation, testing, and maintenance of fire doors and other opening protectives and are used as one of the primary resources for establishing and enforcing California building codes.

The following is a summary of some of the basic testing requirements required by NFPA. Please note that this is not a complete list. For more information, refer to the NFPA 80 standard or contact a licensed fire door inspector for more information.

Visual Inspection Requirements

  • No open holes or breaks in the door or frame
  • Fire-rated labels are attached to the door and frame and are completely legible
  • All door components are secure and properly aligned 
  • Gaps at the door edge and frame do not exceed the maximum as stated in the standard
  • No parts are missing or broken

Functional Testing Requirements

  • All door components are in good working order
  • Supplemental hardware does not interfere with operation
  • Latching hardware operates and secures the door when closed
  • Self-closing device is fully operational
  • Drop test is completed using the manufacturer’s test instructions
  • Automatic-closing devices reset properly after being engaged
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Types of Fire Doors

Roll Up Fire Doors
Fire-Rated Counter Doors
Fire-Rated Swing Doors
Sliding Fire Doors

Roll Up Fire Doors

Roll Up fire doors are commonly used in commercial and industrial applications. They provide many benefits including being highly durable, requiring minimal maintenance, and the ability to secure large openings without taking up much space. That’s because, when retracted, rolling doors form a compact overhead coil.

There are many types of fire-rated rolling doors, but all of them must adhere to the NFPA 80 requirements. Many of these requirements are similar to those for other fire-rated doors except for a few distinctions:
  • Fire-rated rolling doors must be drop-tested at least once per year
  • Roll up fire doors must meet the required average closing speed
  • Roll up fire doors have additional parts and components not found on other doors and therefore may be subject to additional testing

Fire-Rated Counter Doors

Fire-rated counter doors serve the same purpose as other fire-rated doors, but they are better suited for smaller openings commonly found in cafeterias, concessions, and retail settings. Similar to larger rolling doors, fire-rated counter doors need to follow the standards found in NFPA-80 including the requirement for annual drop testing.

Fire-Rated Swing Doors

Swing doors are often used in high-traffic areas as they can quickly and easily be pushed open from either side. Like other fire-rated doors, fire-rated swing doors must meet the requirements of NFPA-80 in their construction and functionality.

Because they are often used in busy areas and are subjected to a lot of abuse, it’s common to see problems with door integrity, holes, seal gaps, and other issues that could possibly render a failed fire inspection. To maintain compliance, swinging fire doors not only have to be inspected at least once a year, but it’s a good idea to perform regularly-scheduled in-house inspections to address any damage or problems with functionality.

Sliding Fire Doors

Although less common than rolling fire doors, sliding doors offer another option for fire protection. They consist of fire-resistant materials and insulation to prevent heat and smoke from passing through. Durable, easy to install, and requiring minimal maintenance, sliding fire doors function using a fusible link or electromagnetic fire alarm interface that activates the door when triggered.

Best Practices For Maintaining Your Fire Doors

Having your fire doors inspected at least once a year is the minimum requirement to maintain compliance. However, given their important function, there are several things you should do all throughout the year in order to ensure your fire door functions as it should when you need it most. The following are some best practices for using and maintaining your fire doors. 

  • Perform regular checks of door frames and hardware
  • Make sure the door closes completely
  • Don’t paint over or make any modifications to your fire doors
  • Keep the area and pathways around fire doors clear
  • Inspect the integrity of gaskets and seals 
  • Make sure the door and frame are aligned and gap sizes don’t exceed the maximum

Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Doors

How do I know if my door is fire rated?

The easiest way to find out if a door is fire rated is to look for the label. NFPA 80 requires all fire doors possess a fire-rated certification label. They can usually be found on the hinge side of the door and the door frame, but as long as they are “clearly visible” they can be located just about anywhere.

How often does a fire door need to be inspected?

According to NFPA 80, the Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, all fire door assemblies require annual inspections.

Where are fire doors required?

The type and location of a fire door are determined by the type of commercial space, building design, and the maximum number of occupants. Some common areas where fire doors may be required include elevators, exit stairways, lobbies, and near heating and cooling systems.

Can fire doors be propped open?

Fire doors are either designed to stay closed, or they’re equipped with an automatic closing feature that will engage in the event of an emergency. Never attempt to keep a fire door propped open as it can render its fire-protection capabilities ineffective.

Can changes be made to the hardware on a fire door?

The hardware on a fire door must be tested and classified for use in fire door assemblies. That means you can’t just replace a door hinge with just any old type. Also, keep in mind that although door components are often tested individually, sometimes they are tested all together and therefore must be used together in order to maintain the specified fire rating.

Can fire doors be locked?

Doors that lock from outside to prevent entry are permitted, but fire doors must, at all times, allow for a quick exit – including after hours, in an emergency, and when the power goes out.

Can fire doors be painted?

Although there’s no law against painting fire doors, much care must be taken to avoid compromising the moving parts or labels. Components such as hinges and closer arms need to be able to move freely and labels must remain clearly legible.
Have a fire door that needs repair?     Call (415) 789-3899 to get a free estimate!

Call for a Free Consultation and Fire Door Testing Estimate

Do you need to schedule a fire door inspection? Are you looking for a qualified professional to install or repair a fire door? At Union Door, we do it all! We’re a full-service door company with an in-house fire inspector and some of the most skilled technicians in the industry. If your door fails testing or we find that it needs repair, we’ll make the necessary fixes to ensure that it functions properly and meets all safety standards.

Do you have questions or want to schedule a fire door inspection? Give us a call and we would be happy to get you on our schedule or set you up with a free consultation.
(415) 789-3899

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