Fire and Smoke Door Clearances

Q: I have a question concerning clearances on fire rated doors and smoke compartment barrier doors. The way I read the 1999 Edition of NFPA 80 and the information in the 2000 Life Safety Code (LSC) is that a maximum gap of 1/8 inches is permitted between “meeting edges of door pairs”. In terms of 2000 LSC compliance would you agree that the 1/8 inch clearance on smoke barrier doors and fire rated doors is regulated at the “meeting edge of door pairs”?

A: According to the Annex section of 8.3.4.1 of the 2000 LSC, it says the clearance for the proper operation of smoke doors is defined as 1/8 inch. While the Annex section is not part of the enforceable code, it does provide a guide for authorities to use in making their own interpretations. The Annex does not limit the 1/8 clearance to just the meeting edges of a pair of doors and could be construed as meaning the edges of the door that meets with the jamb of the frame.

Section 2-3.1.7 of the 1999 edition of NFPA 80 says the clearance between the edge of the door on the pull side and the frame, and the meeting edges of doors swinging in pairs on the pull side shall be 1/8 inch + 1/16 inch for steel doors and shall not exceed 1/8 inch for wood doors.

So, to answer your question: “In terms of 2000 LSC compliance would you agree that the 1/8 inch clearance on smoke barrier doors and fire barrier doors is regulated at the meeting edge of door pairs,?”, I would say yes it is regulated at the meeting edges of door pairs, but section 2-3.1.7 of NFPA 80 says the clearance between the edge of the door and the frame is included in the 1/8 inch limitation. So the clearance between the edges of the door and the frame are also included in the 1/8 inch requirement.

As far as smoke compartment barrier doors, I would also agree that the clearance between the meeting edges of door pairs are limited to 1/8 inch, but this is based on the current interpretation of the accreditation organizations and CMS state agencies. But I’m not so sure about the clearance between the door edge and the frame jamb as the 1/8 inch limitation is found in the Annex section, and it would have to be an interpretation by an authority since it is not written in the enforceable code. I personally do not have any experience on how accreditation organizations and CMS state agencies are surveying the issue of smoke compartment barrier door clearances between the door edge and the frame jamb. So, the clearances between a smoke compartment barrier door edge and the frame jamb is an issue that is not clearly defined at this time.