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 126.96.36.199.2 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.