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Mar 20 2018

Is your garage door self-closing or automatic-closing?

Category: Fire DoorsLori @ 10:58 am Comments (0)

This photo is from a different garage fire. Click on it to see the other photos from this fire – you’ll be a believer!

This morning I saw a video (embedded below) that was posted on Facebook by the Sacramento Fire Department.  It is helmet-cam footage of a fire captain entering a home and closing the door between the living area and the garage.  Unfortunately, the smoke from the fire had spread extensively from the garage into the home by that time; if the door had been closed when the fire began (and remained closed), it’s likely that the damage would have been reduced.

Watching this video reminded me of a change to the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) that I was involved with.  In my opinion, it is extremely important for the door between a garage and a house to be closed if/when a fire occurs – here’s some info from FEMA on garage fires.  The IRC already included a requirement for these doors to be self-closing (equipped with a closer or spring hinges), but for some reason it is still common to find garage doors that are not self-closing.

One theory is that it is inconvenient to have a self-closing door in that location.  New products are becoming available which will close a residential door when a fire occurs, so the IRC was changed to address the possibility of using an automatic-closing device on a garage door.  The term “automatic-closing device” is not defined in the IRC, but NFPA 80 does include a definition:  “A device that causes the door or window to close when activated by a fusible link or detector.”  Installing an automatic-closing device on a garage door (or a bedroom door!) would allow the door to be opened and closed manually but would help to ensure that the door is closed if there is a fire.

Here is the applicable section from the 2018 IBC:

R302.5.1 Opening protection. Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) in thickness, solid or honeycomb core steel doors not less than 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors, equipped with a self-closing or automatic-closing device.

And here’s the video from the Sacramento Fire Department:

I don’t have an attached garage, but if I did, I would make sure that the door is self-closing or automatic-closing.  Is this something you have considered for your own home?

Photo:  Glassboro Fire Department

Mar 19 2018

QQ: Panic Hardware and Mag-Locks

There is a clarification in the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) that helps to answer the following questions:

On a door that is be required to have panic hardware, is it acceptable to install an electromagnetic lock INSTEAD of panic hardware since the mag-lock does not latch?

Do the model codes prohibit the installation of a mag-lock in addition to panic hardware since an additional locking device is not allowed on doors with panic hardware?

If a door has panic hardware and a mag-lock, can either a sensor or door-mounted hardware be used to release the mag-lock for egress?

I have written about these topics in the past, but I always like to have some prescriptive code language to point to rather than saying, “because I said so.”  The BHMA Codes & Government Affairs Committee gathers ideas from its members (including me) and from others who have run into door-related code requirements that are difficult to interpret.  We then submit code change proposals and nurture them through the code development process.

In the 2018 edition of the IBC, Section 1010.1.10 addresses panic hardware and fire exit hardware.  The sections that cover mag-locks are 1010.1.9.9 (sensor release) and 1010.1.9.10 (door hardware release).  Although the 2015 edition of the IBC does include a reference in the panic hardware section to one of the sections addressing mag-locks, it wasn’t clear whether this meant that the mag-lock section could be used instead of panic hardware, or whether the other mag-lock application was prohibited on doors with panic hardware because it was not specifically referenced.

Here is the paragraph that has been added to the 2018 IBC:

1010.1.10 – Exception 2:  Doors provided with panic hardware or fire exit hardware and serving a Group A or E occupancy shall be permitted to be electrically locked in accordance with Section 1010.1.9.9 or 1010.1.9.10.

This clarifies that:

a) Panic hardware is still required for doors which lock or latch when serving assembly or educational occupancies with an occupant load of 50 people or more.  The reason I say this is because the new language says, “Doors PROVIDED with panic hardware…”

b) Because both of the sections that typically apply to mag-locks are referenced in the new language, the doors with panic hardware can also have mag-locks which are released by EITHER the sensor OR the door-mounted hardware, as long as all of the criteria of the applicable section are met.

For more information about the code requirements that apply to mag-locks and panic hardware, check out these videos:


Any questions?

Mar 16 2018

FF: Zip It

Colin Watson of Allegion sent me this Fixed-it Friday photo of a surface bolt.  Zip-tied for extra security.  In a school.  I guess they don’t want anyone using that leaf.  Ever.

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