Jun 05 2017

Poly Vinyl Mural on Fire Doors and Walls

Category: Doors,Fire Doors,Questions and Answers,WallsBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Is it permissible to completely cover a fire rated door in a hospital with a polyvinyl picture/mural? Also, is it permissible to cover a fire rated wall, from floor to ceiling in hospital with the same product?

A: No. You are not permitted to cover a fire-rated door with anything. Period. The reason why is, whatever is placed on the door will likely change the fire-resistive characteristics of the door and may likely allow the door to not last as long as it is designed.

Assuming the mural is newly installed, a poly-vinyl picture mural on the walls of the hospital may be permitted if it meets the requirements for interior finish. Class A interior finish is permitted on walls, and Class B is permitted in rooms where the capacity does not exceed four persons. A Class A material has a flame spread rating of 0 -25, and a Class B materials has a flame spread rating of 26 – 75.

Ask your supplier/vendor to provide the interior finish classification or the flame spread ratings to determine if you are compliant.

May 01 2017

Lower Bottom Rods

Category: Doors,Hardware,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: I have been asked about the requirements for the use of the lower bottom rod hardware in cross-corridor egress doors which provide positive latching and building separation. For aesthetic reasons, we wish to remove the bottom flush bolts, allowing for the floor to be void of the ‘ugly’ recessed catch. Is it required by code to have the lower bottom rod, or is this more of a question for the hardware manufacturer?

A: The lower bottom rod latching system is there because the manufacturer of the door hardware says it has to be there; not because there is a code or standard that requires it. It’s there because the manufacturer received a UL listing (or other independent laboratory listing) saying that is how they secure the door during a fire.

If it is a fire-rated door, then according to section of the 2012 Life Safety Code, you are required to maintain the door to be in compliance with NFPA 80, which requires the fully compliment of hardware that the manufacturer says is required.

Some door hardware manufacturers have been able to obtain UL listings without having the lower bottom rod, and that is entirely an issue between the manufacturer and the testing laboratory. Some door hardware manufacturers have been able to obtain a listing to remove the lower bottom rod and replace it with a fire-pin… a fusible link mounted inside the door that secures the door during a fire.

Work with the manufacturer of the door hardware. Do what they say is required in order to maintain the fire rating of the door assembly. A missing lower bottom rod is likely to be observed during a survey and if you have documented proof from the door hardware manufacturer that the lower bottom rod is not required then you should be safe.

Apr 07 2017

Positive Latching Doors

Category: Doors,Positive Latching,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Is positive latching required for any fire rated door in any occupancy classification? If so, are there any exceptions? What about double egress corridor doors; are they required to be positive latching? Are doors to restrooms required to be positive latching?

A: Yes, fire rated doors are required to positively latch no matter where they are installed, according to section of the 2012 Life Safety Code. This section requires all fire rated doors to be compliant with NFPA 80, which requires positive latching hardware. This is a requirement for all occupancies, and is not specific to any one occupancy. There are no exceptions as far as I know: If the door is a fire rated door assembly then it needs to positively latch.

This raises the awareness about barriers that do not require fire rated doors. It is not uncommon for an architect to require all doors in a corridor to be 20-minute fire rated doors, even if the corridor walls are not fire rated. In situations like this, the doors would be required to be positive latching from two different code references: 1) Because the door is a fire rated door and section requires it to comply with NFPA 80 which requires positive latching; but also 2) Because corridor doors are required to latch, according to section However, all of the other NFPA 80 requirements concerning fire rated doors (i.e. self-closing door and fire rated frames) applies since section requires features of life safety that are obvious to the public to be maintained even if they are not required.

If the double egress corridor doors are required to be fire rated, then they too must positively latch. But not all double egress doors in a corridor are required to be fire rated. Double egress doors that serve a smoke compartment barrier are not required to latch, according to section 18/

In regards to public restroom doors: According to section, exception #1, these doors are not required to latch, provided they are not fire-rated doors. It is quite rare to find an entrance door to a restroom that is fire rated.

Apr 05 2017

Office Door Swing

Category: Doors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Does a corridor door that serves an office have to swing into the office? The office is on a patient floor and the door does not serve as any other type of door.

A: According to section of the 2012 Life Safety Code, the door is permitted to swing into the corridor, but during its swing, it cannot obstruct more than ½ of the required width of the corridor. And when the door is fully open (up against the wall), it cannot extend more than 7 inches into the corridor.

If the door swings into more than ½ of the required width of the corridor, then that is a problem. Likewise, if the door extends out into the corridor more than 7 inches when it is fully opened, then that also is a problem.

But the FGI Guidelines has a requirement that prevents doors from swinging into the corridor for new construction, so check with your state or local authorities to s ee if they have more restrictive requirements.

Mar 03 2017

Construction Barrier Doors

Category: Construction,Doors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Does a door that accesses a construction site within a hospital need to have an automatic closer installed on the access door? What if the door is constructed within temporary drywall barriers?

A: The 2012 Life Safety Code references the 2009 edition of NFPA 241 which has changed from previous editions to require fire-rated barriers separating construction areas from occupied areas. The 2009 edition of NFPA 241 now requires all construction areas to be separated from occupied areas with 1-hour fire rated construction, which will include ¾ hour fire rated doors that are self-closing and positive latching. There is an exception in the 2009 NFPA 241 that allows non-fire rated barriers if the construction area is protected with automatic sprinklers, but the Annex section of NFPA 241 specifically says ‘construction tarps’ would not be permitted. It is unclear if using flame retardant plastic visqueen to separate construction areas from occupied areas would be permitted since the standard does not allow tarps. The NFPA HITF committee began to deal with this issue but failed to come to a consensus.

That means steel studs and gypsum board would still need to be used to separate construction from occupied areas, however if the construction area is sprinklered then the separation barrier would not be required to be 1-hour fire rated. The construction area would still be considered a hazardous area which requires a self-closing door.

Feb 27 2017

Egress Hardware

Category: Doors,Hardware,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: We have “clinic” type areas within suites.  Some of these doors that lead to the main corridor for egress, have regular “turn handle” type handles.  Not panic hardware.  What is the mindset of where it is required to have panic hardware on a door, and when turn handles are permitted?  Is there a “rule of thumb” on when a door has to have panic hardware for egress?

A: Horizontal egress hardware on a door (commonly referred to as crash bars and often misnamed panic hardware) are not required in a healthcare occupancy. Crash bars are required on doors in the path of egress from assembly occupancies. So, if a hospital has a dining area or an auditorium; these are assembly occupancies areas, and horizontal crash bars would be required even if the entire area is classified as healthcare occupancy. Section of the 2012 Life Safety Code requires where there is a mixed occupancy (meaning the different occupancies are not separated with a 2-hour fire rated barrier), then the more restrictive requirements of the occupancies involved must be followed. Therefore, since an auditorium and a dining area (50 or more people) exist inside a hospital, then the requirements of assembly occupancy must be followed. Horizontal crash bars would then be required.

But there is no requirement for horizontal crash bar hardware on egress doors from a hospital suite as you described.

Feb 08 2017

Corridor Door Louver

Category: Corridors,Doors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Is there a code that says anything about adding a vent through a door that is in the corridor of our hospital?

A: Well… you might be able to do that legally on a very few specific corridor doors (i.e. bathroom doors, toilet rooms doors, shower room doors), but no, you cannot install a louver in a typical corridor door in a hospital because section of the 2012 LSC says corridor doors have to resist the passage of smoke. Therefore, a louver in a door would not resist the passage of smoke.

Now, a very few specific corridor doors do not have to resist the passage of smoke as described in section (1), and you would be permitted to install a louver in those doors.

Jan 19 2017

Lower Bottom Rods

Category: Doors,Hardware,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: I am a consultant and I am surveying a system where the bottom strike rod and the floor receiver have been removed.  I think this “field” modification may void the UL rating.  Is there a reference for clarification on this?

A: You’re not going to find a section in any NFPA code or standard that says “There must be a lower bottom rod on fire rated doors”. But, nonetheless, they are required when the manufacturer says they are required. The manufacturer of fire rated door assemblies have to have them listed by on independent testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL (Intertek). The manufacturer submits their fire door assembly for testing and if it passes the test, then the testing laboratory will list it as meeting the required standards based on the total assembly, including the hardware.

For decades certain types of cross-corridor fire rated door assemblies were designed with surface mounted hardware that included the lower bottom rod for latching. And for decades, hospital employees hit that lower bottom rod with carts and instead of repairing the rod, the poorly-informed maintenance staff would just remove the rod. Along comes better-informed surveyors who identifies that this is not correct and cites the hospitals.

Recently, some door manufacturers are actually designing cross-corridor fire-rated doors with surface hardware that eliminates the lower bottom rod all-together. This design was tested and listed by the testing laboratories. Some of these designs have employed devices what are commonly called ‘fire-pins’ in the lower part of the door that releases a pin from one door leaf to the other door leaf to ‘lock’ it in place when the ambient temperature at the floor approached 500 degrees (or so).

As you come across fire-rated doors that have surface mounted hardware but no lower bottom rods, I suggest you do the following:

  • Check the horizontal crash bar hardware and confirm if there is an opening on the underside of housing for a lower bottom rod. If not, then check the independent testing laboratory label on the horizontal crash bar assembly to confirm that it is listed for use as fire-rated hardware.
  • If there is an opening on the underside of the housing, then check to see if there is a fire-pin installed on one of the door leafs.
  • If there is no fire-pin installed, then ask the organization to provide you with documentation that the door assembly as presented meets the requirements for the UL (or ETL) listing. If they can provide that information, then review it and determine that the remaining hardware is installed as designed.
  • If they cannot provide that information, then cite them for non-compliant modifications to a fire-rated doors assembly.

May 25 2015

Door to Medical Gas Storage Room

Category: Doors,Medical Gas,Questions and Answers,StorageBKeyes @ 1:00 am

Q: I have an existing medical gas storage room in an outpatient surgery center that was constructed with 1-hour barriers and ¾ hour fire rated door. A surveyor cited me because he says the door has to be constructed of non-combustible or limited combustible materials. The door that is installed is a high pressure decorative laminate with a bonded agri-fiber core with a 45 minute fire resistance rating. I maintain that doors are exempted from the noncombustible/limited-combustible provision. Who’s correct?

A: One scenario that the surveyor may hold you accountable to is medical gas systems in ambulatory care occupancies are regulated by the Life Safety Code, and not by NFPA 99. The Life Safety Code (2000 edition) would look at medical gas room as a hazardous room, and for ambulatory care occupancies, a hazardous room compares their level of hazard to their surrounding area. The section that regulates hazards in ambulatory care occupancies is section 20/21.3.2 which refers you to 38/39.3.2, which in turn refers you to section 8.4. Section 8.4 essentially says any area with a higher level of hazard than the surrounding area needs to be protected with fire protection sprinklers, or 1-hour fire rated barriers. Section requires a 1-hour fire rated barrier to have at least a ¾ hour fire rated door as long as the fire barrier is not used as a vertical opening (such as a rated shaft) or an exit enclosure (such as a stairwell). Hopefully, you don’t have the med gas room in a stairwell, so a properly labeled ¾ hour rated doors is acceptable, and in this scenario I would say the surveyor is mistaken. However, if the surveyor requires that you comply with NFPA 99 in regards to medical gas systems, then that is an entirely different situation. Section 4- (a) 11 (a) of the 1999 edition of NFPA 99 requires doors to be constructed of non-combustible or limited combustible materials. If the 45-minute fire rated door that you have is laminated with limited combustible materials, then it would not be compliant with NFPA 99 (1999 edition), and I would say the surveyor is correct. Section 3.3.118 in the Life Safety Code defines what limited combustible materials are. I suggest you contact the manufacturer of the door and ask them to produce documentation whether or not the door meets the heat values stipulated in section 3.3.118, that may qualify the door as being constructed with limited combustible materials. Now, on another point of view, if the surveyor requires you to comply with NFPA 99, 2005 edition, the door to this room still has to be constructed from non-combustible or limited combustible materials, but it is no longer permitted to be ¾ hour fire rated, but must be 1-hour fire rated, according to section The 2012 edition of NFPA 99 has the same requirement.

Apr 20 2015

Soiled Utility Room Door Signage

Category: Doors,Questions and Answers,Signs,Soiled Utility RoomsBKeyes @ 6:00 am

Q: Are you aware of any door signage requirements for soiled utility rooms and/or trash rooms?

A: There is no Life Safety Code requirement for signs on a soiled utility room door or a trash collection room door, unless the door could somehow be confused with an exit door. Then a ‘NO EXIT’ sign will have to be posted on the door, with the word ‘NO’ 2 inches tall, and the word ‘EXIT’ 1 inch tall, and the word ‘NO’ has to be on top of the word ‘EXIT’. If the doors to the soiled utility room or the trash collection room are fire-rated doors, then the sign must be no larger than 5% of the overall surface area of the door, and can only be attached to the door with adhesives. Nails and screws are not permitted to attach a sign to a fire rated door. Perhaps you may be thinking of a state regulation whereby every door must have a number or name assigned to it. I have seen this regulation in many states. However, I am not aware of any CMS, Joint Commission, HFAP or DNV requirement for signs on these doors.

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