Are your fire doors up to code? If they're even a few years old, they may not be. And inspections are coming soon.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) updated a number of its requirements a few years ago, specifically NFPA 80 – Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. Now regulatory agencies are beginning to adopt this standard as part of their new codes, so the codes have become more enforceable by local jurisdictions (NFPA requirements are being adopted nationwide). That means you might soon be in store for an annual inspection mandated by your local building, fire or life safety code.
"Just like ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of the code is no excuse," said SELECT's Northern California rep Hal Kelton, Certified Fire & Egress Door Inspector from Kelton Sales Group, LLC. In most states, the code is law.
This raises huge liability issues for building owners. If you don't have the proper annual inspection records, you could be liable if someone is injured or killed in a fire in your building. Insurance providers will ask for inspection records before selling you coverage or hit you with a big upcharge, greatly increasing your insurance costs. Hospitals will need to produce records showing they meet NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, (which NFPA 80 is referenced in as well) to stay accredited by the Joint Commission (JCAHO) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue to receive Medicare reimbursement.
"You're going to see increased enforcement from all regulatory agencies in 2015, so it will really bring fire door inspections and, more important, compliance to the forefront," Hal said.
So why are your doors likely not up to code? Because even a few years after installation, most doors have clearance problems. Buildings settle. Doors drag. Even newly installed floors can be uneven. "I've seen a difference from 1/4" within a foot up to 1" within a foot," Hal said. "That can be the difference between compliance and non-compliance."
How do you solve the problem? Installing new hinges can fix clearance problems and bring doors back into compliance. For example, a full surface hinge, such as SELECT's SL57, allows maximum adjustability and flexibility on multiple planes of the door. "It's easy to install (watch the video) and there's little to no adjusting afterward because you can set the gaps when you hang the door," Hal said. "With butt hinges, you could spend hours trying to manipulate the opening compared with 30 minutes to an hour with the SL57."
And you'll stay in compliance year after year without having to make repairs because SELECT hinges are proven to last beyond 25,000,000 cycles. They'll likely outlast your door and frame.
SELECT's large variety of hinges gives you other options to fix clearance problems depending on the size of the gap you need to fill. A concealed hinge like the SL11 can fill large gaps with both of its leaves. A half surface hinge like the SL53 can fill a smaller gap with only one leaf between the door and frame. It also allows room for smoke gasketing and doesn't bind the door in the closed position. "With a butt hinge there's no way you can fill that gap," Hal said.
When selecting a hinge, you should also look for 90-minute fire rating right out of the box. Under NFPA 80, modifying the opening's components in the field means the opening has to be re-inspected and recertified. With all SELECT hinges, after adding steel filler plates to cover the old hinge preps, there's no need to recertify the opening because the SELECT hinge is already rated up to 90 minutes without extra pins or intumescents.
NFPA 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives (nfpa.org)