Fire Rated Doors and Frames – Architect Information

Follow along as the importance of fire-rated doors and frames is explained. Please watch the video for a visual demonstration.

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Fire-rated door assemblies inhibit the spread of smoke and flames during a fire. They help prevent catastrophes by compartmentalizing the fire from the rest of the building.

Here is an example where a fire occurred in an apartment building. After a kitchen fire, the tenant fled and left their door open, allowing the fire to quickly spread to the corridor. Fortunately, this latched fire door prevented the fire from compromising the egress routes from other floors. That is why building codes often require fire rated doors in stairwells, corridors, and other locations.

Fire rated doors work as an assembly of the door frame and hardware. They must be closed and latched to provide fire protection and never blocked or propped open. Fire ratings range from 20 minutes up to 3 hours, which represent the duration of fire protection. Only steel doors and frames have earned a three-hour rating. These ratings are earned after passing a fire test with an accredited laboratory such as UL or Intertek Warnock Hersey. The fire door test uses a furnace to replicate the effects of a fire. After the fire test, a hose stream test is performed to verify the door can withstand the force from a fire hose and remain in the closed position. If the test is passed then that model of door can be fire labeled for the specified fire protection rating.

The hardware and frame must also be tested and labeled for that purpose. The assemblies are tested to UL or NFPA standards and installed per the manufacturer’s installation instructions and in compliance with NFPA 80. Correct installation in the field is critical as fire labels may be voided if the assembly is improperly installed or if non-compliant field modifications are made. Installers should contact the manufacturer if they need a copy of the installation instructions. For more information on fire doors and a list of manufacturers visit here.