Smoke Barrier Doors

Q: Are smoke barrier doors and frames required to have a fire rating label?

A: No. This seems to be a difficult issue for many people (including surveyors) to grasp. According to section 19.3.7.6 of the 2012 LSC, doors in smoke barriers are required to be 1¾ inch thick, solid-bonded, wood-core doors, or be of construction that resists fire for at least 20 minutes. This does not mean the door and frame must be a fire-rated door. It only means the door must be of construction that resists fire for at least 20 minutes.

The confusion surrounding this issue may be found in section 8.3.4.2 of the 2012 LSC, which says doors in smoke barriers must have a fire rating of not less than 20 minutes. But whenever there is a conflict between the core chapters (chapters 1 – 11) and the occupancy chapters (chapters 12 – 42), the requirements of the occupancy chapter over-rides the requirements of the core chapter (see section 4.4.2.3). In other words; the occupancy chapter trumps the core chapters.

Section 19.3.7.8 of the 2012 LSC continues to say that doors in smoke barriers are not required to be positive latching That alone should be the tell-tale sign that the door is not required to be a fire-rated door since all fire rated doors must be positive latching (according to NFPA 80).

Some architects do specify 20-minute fire rated doors in smoke barriers, and while this practice is not a violation of the LSC, it does present a burden on the healthcare facility because now they have to maintain it as a fire rated door, even though it is not required to be a fire rated door. This causes more headaches because the 2012 LSC references the 2010 edition of NFPA 80 which will require an annual inspection of all side-hinged swinging fire doors.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.