Fire Rated Door Assemblies

Q: You have stated in previous Q&As that all fire-rated door assemblies must be tested and inspected. I don’t think that is true on fire-rated door assemblies that are not located in a fire-rated barrier. I was under the impression that the hospital’s current Life Safety drawings would be the determining factor on what barriers the hospital was responsible for maintaining. For example, if the building had rated doors on a wall that was not denoted as a fire rated barrier on the LS drawings, one could justify why there were not maintained. I run into the installation of unnecessary rated doors in many facilities, both old and new.

A: You make an interesting case. However, the Life Safety Code always trumps everything else, and in this case it would trump the hospital’s LS drawings. According to section 4.6.12.3 of the 2012 LSC, it clearly says all existing features of life safety that are obvious to the public, if not required by the LSC, must be maintained or removed. And section 8.3.3.1 says openings (i.e. doors) required to have fire protection must be maintained in accordance with NFPA 80 which requires annual testing and inspection.

Now, there’s a lot going on with this statement… For example: NFPA has said via informal comments that a fire-rated label on the edge of the door is not considered ‘obvious to the public’. But other AHJs disagree, and have stated that the fire-rating label on the door constitutes the need to maintain it as a fire-rated door. Most surveyors will go by the fire-rating label on the door, since a high percentage of Life Safety drawings are inaccurate to some degree.

I don’t disagree with your logic. If it were up to me, I would not require fire-rated doors that are not in fire-rated barriers to require testing and inspections. But think of it the way a surveyor does… Who is to say the fire-rated doors are not located in a fire-rated barrier? Just because the Life Safety drawings say it is not in a fire-rate barrier, what about building code requirements? Life Safety drawings do not always represent the rated wall requirements of building codes. There is too much ambiguity for a surveyor to take the word of the hospital that a certain fire-rated door is not located in a fire-rated  barrier.

My advice is to remove the fire-rated label from the door and frame if the facility is sure the door assembly is not located in a fire-rated barrier.