I was recently asked what the Life Safety Code required for the thickness and composition of a corridor door in new healthcare occupancy construction. The individual asking me the question was thinking of installing 3/4 inch thick doors on nurse server cabinets which open onto the corridor. I recited from memory: 1.75 inch thick, solid-bonded, wood core doors that limit the passage of smoke and have positive latching hardware. There are some basics in life that cause one to memorize such things and corridor doors is just one of those items in the Life Safety Code for me.
The person asking the question asked me to provide the code reference where it says that. So, I looked it up in Chapter 18 (the chapter for new construction in healthcare occupancies) and …. it’s not there. The code is void of that description for corridor doors in the new construction chapter. Section 126.96.36.199.1 (of the 2000 edition) of the Life Safety Code essentially says corridors doors have to limit the passage of smoke, and they do not have to comply with NFPA 80 , and the distance between the bottom of the door and the floor cannot exceed 1 inch. Also, section 188.8.131.52.2 says corridor doors are required to positively latch, and roller latches are not permitted. Nowhere in Chapter 18 can I find that the corridor door had to be constructed to be 1.75 inch thick, solid-bonded and wood core. I even pulled out the handbook for the LSC and it was silent on the subject for new construction. I looked up the same section in the 2012 edition of the LSC to see what it says and it too was very silent as well.
So why was I so quick in quoting corridors doors need to be 1.75 inch thick, solid-bonded wood core? Because that is the requirement for corridor doors in existing construction. Oh… Now it makes sense. One needs to remember that section 4.6.7 says in part, that alterations and new equipment needs to comply with new occupancy chapters, and at the very least must meet the requirements for existing conditions. So, I said they cannot install a new corridor door that does not meet the requirements for an existing corridor door, which is 1.75 inch thick, solid-bonded, wood core.
I was asked where in the code it says that and I referred him to section 184.108.40.206.1. I then read the Exception #2 to 220.127.116.11.1 which says corridor doors in smoke compartment fully protected with automatic sprinklers are exempt from this requirement, although they are required to be constructed to resist the passage of smoke…. Oops!…. There’s the hidden truth. Corridor doors in existing occupancies located in smoke compartments that are fully protected with sprinklers are not required to be 1.75 inch thick, yada yada yada.
Corridor doors in new construction are located in smoke compartments that are fully protected with sprinklers, so by the definition of section 4.6.7, a 3/4 inch thick door on a nurse server cabinet that opens onto the corridor would be permitted in new construction, as long as it resists the transfer of smoke and positively latches.
Wow… I learned something new that day. It never ceases to amaze me to learn of the little nuances and intricacies involved in understanding the Life Safety Code. That was a good day for me. I really appreciated that question as it made me learn the truth.