Specifying the right fire rating for doors could be one of the most important code requirements in a commercial building project. Correctly built and installed fire doors potentially save lives and mitigate liability in the event that a tragedy occurs.
While building codes require fire-rated doors in specific areas, you can always go above and beyond in places where safety is a high priority. Here, we review some of the most important aspects of fire ratings for doors and discuss some places where they’re especially important, whether required by code or not.
Helpful Tips When Specifying Fire-Rated Doors
The International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), and other codes and standards reference National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. NFPA 105 also contains some details. To locate fire rating requirements in the IBC, refer to Chapter 7. It covers the fire resistance requirements for various types of firewalls, fire barriers, fire partitions, smoke partitions and smoke barriers—including doors.
Fire-rated doors offer a degree of protection against both fire and smoke. Doors and frames bear construction labels indicating their fire rating. Remember, if the door and the frame bear different ratings, the lower of the two functions as the rating for the whole assembly.
On a related note, temperature-rise doors are required in some areas to limit heat transfer. However, these requirements have slackened as more buildings use sprinkler systems.
Ninety-minute fire doors are required in two-hour rated wall openings to stairwells, elevator rooms or egress through a building. Ninety-minute doors are also used in exterior openings where there is a potential for severe fire exposure from outside.
Twenty-minute fire doors are used in one-hour rated walls to separate corridors where smoke and draft control are a possible issue.
Fire rated doors must be self-closing or connected with the fire alarm system so that they automatically close in the event of a fire. Hardware on fire door assemblies has to have an active latch bolt to lessen the risk of pressure from a fire pushing open the door.
Door hardware must comply with NFPA 80. This allows non-labeled kick plates to be field-installed on fire doors as long as the top of the kick plate is not more than 16 inches above the bottom of the door.
The IBC requires the positive pressure test for fire-rated doors. The test is designed to simulate the conditions of a real fire. This is different from the neutral pressure test, and the difference matters when it comes to wood doors.
Fire-Rated Wood Doors
Your commercial building clients might come to you with the misconception that commercial wood doors cannot meet their needs when it comes to fire protection. In fact, you have numerous options for fire-rated wood doors, including stile and rail doors and 20-minute fire-rated doors with glass. We can even manufacture French doors with a 20-minute fire rating.
Flat panel wood fire or stile and rail wood doors can be rated up to 90 minutes. A metal core slows the progression of a fire. Masonite Architectural offers doors you can customize by size and fire-rating, designed for neutral or positive pressure.
Spaces With Elevated Fire Risk
When you think about places where a fire is more likely to start, you likely think first of kitchen, such as in restaurants or hotels. Facilities like schools, daycares, nursing homes, hospitals, and even office buildings often include kitchens—sometimes more than one. Other spots where fire is more likely include spaces where large electrical equipment is housed, like laundry rooms, garages and utility rooms. However, a fire can start just about anywhere.
Another way to approach locations for fire-rated doors is to focus on the building occupants. Consider, in particular, spaces that serve more vulnerable populations, like:
- People with disabilities
- People who are sick
- Elderly people
This covers a lot of possibilities, including educational and healthcare facilities, and especially any location where these populations spend the night.
Many of these lend themselves to fire-rated doors with glass, which allow for safety but also light transfer and a more welcoming feeling.
Masonite’s Award-Winning Fire-Rated Doors
At Masonite, we’ve always taken a proactive approach to safety. We’re proud that Underwriters Laboratories—a third party research and testing company—recognized us, in 2019, as a leader in wood fire-rated door safety. They honored us with their inaugural Dedication to Safety award—ours was the only wood door recognized!
Christopher Hasbrook, vice president and general manager of the Building and Life Safety Technologies Division at UL, said “We appreciate Masonite’s continued commitment to UL certification and recognize their efforts to tackle today’s safety challenges.”When you’re looking for fire-rated wood doors for your next project, consider specifying Masonite Architectural to meet a wide range of needs for beauty and performance.
To find the right door for your commercial project, use our DOORSELECTOR™ Tool or contact us for more information!