Understanding Fire-Rated Door Assemblies: Safety, Compliance, and Performance
Fire resistance is the property of a material (such as insulation) or assembly of materials to withstand fire, continue to perform its given function and/or provide containment of a fire for a specified period, and prevent the fire from spreading. The occupancy level, building type and egress requirements based on national, state, and local codes will dictate the use of many more fire rated openings throughout most of these buildings. So, what exactly is a fire-rated door, and how is it different from any other door in your building?
A fire-rated door is an interior or exterior fire door designed to stop the spread of fire and allow inhabitants to quickly and easily get to safety. The fire resistance rating of their frame, door, and hardware defines fire-rated doors. All fire-rated openings need to be tested and certified by independent laboratories compliant with the national fire safety standards and building codes, with fire labels issued to manufacturer’s under licensing programs for their application and use.
An architect determines the best places for fire doors to be installed to ensure that they are compliant with all levels of codes. Another purpose of fire doors is the creation of passive fire safety systems, which save lives by stopping the progress of destructive fires. Fire doors are rated to the duration of time that they will not combust or fail in the event of a fire based on the results of strict laboratory testing. Standard fire ratings typically range from 20 minutes to 180 minutes.
Fire-rated door assemblies play an important role in saving lives and minimizing property damage by providing safe egress and compartmentalizing smoke, flames and when required, dangerous radiant heat. This is a combination of the door, frame, hardware, and glazing working together as one assembly. These components are normally tested as separate products by a nationally recognized testing agency and then listed, labeled, or classified for use in fire door assemblies. However, there are instances where specific components are tested together, and therefore must be used together in order to maintain the fire rating.
Fire door assemblies are tested to NFPA 252, Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Door Assemblies or UL 10 B, Standard for Fire Tests of Door Assemblies, or UL 10 C, Standard for Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assemblies. Like fire window assemblies, fire door assembly testing includes the fire endurance test and hose stream test. Note that building codes throughout the US and Canada typically stipulate that 20-minute doors are exempt from the hose stream test.
The basic requirements for fire rated door assemblies include:
- Fire ratings (20/45/60/90/180 minutes) are granted by third-party testing agencies and are labeled on the products.
- Fire rated door assemblies must meet the requirements of the applicable building or life safety code, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, the International Building Code (IBC)and the International Fire Code (IFC).
- Fire doors are required to be self-closing and positive latching.
- The fire rating of the wall dictates the fire rating of the door. However, it is important to note that 2-hour fire rated wall requires a 90-minute fire rated door opening and likewise a 1-hour fire rated wall requires a 45-minute fire rated opening.
- A fire rated opening is part of a building’s passive fire protection system that provides two distinct functions: reduce the spread of fire and/or smoke and enable safe egress from the building in the event of a fire.
- For an opening to qualify as fire rated, all components including the door, frame, glass and glazing, hardware* and any required gasketing must be listed with an agency with laboratory that is in compliance with NFPA Standards 80 and 101, building codes and any ordinances.
- There are two exceptions for a fire rated opening. Kick plates below 16 inches tall do not require labeling, and until recently, fire rated hinges did not have to have a visible label.
- Fire rated components include hinges, lock/exit device, door closer, astragal, door coordinators, power transfer devices, glass lites and door viewers. In addition, any add-on components including door and jamb protection must be listed if they are to be mounted onto or into the surface of the door or jamb.
AMBICO manufactures specialty doors, frames, and windows. Some of these specialty doors such as oversized doors (larger than commodity openings) may need to be fire rated. However, doors like acoustic, blast, bullet, flood, lead lined or radio frequency meet different performance ratings. Whereas doors like stainless steel, or bronze and brass clad, use special materials and construction.
All of these products are available fire rated in certain configurations and sizes. For detail regarding specific fire rating capabilities, please consult with our sales staff at [email protected]