Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Allegion
Email: lori_greene@allegion.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Oct 28 2014

Cease Fire Door Hinge

Category: Hinges & Pivots,VideosLori @ 11:45 am Comments (37)
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As most of you know, I love to see creativity and innovation within the door and hardware industry, especially if it helps to increase fire prevention and life safety.  I received a video this morning, introducing a product that has been developed by two retired FDNY firefighters.  It is a spring hinge with a fusible link, so in normal operation it acts as a typical hinge but when exposed to heat it closes the door.

According to current codes, corridor doors in residential occupancies like apartments, hotels, and dormitories are required to have a 20-minute fire rating, and must be self-closing and self-latching.  But at some point in history (I’ll have to figure out when), this rating was not required, and I think those older facilities may be a great opportunity for a product like this.  It could also be used on interior doors where it would be helpful to compartmentalize and control the fire.

A few years ago I stayed in a hotel that did not have rated doors on the dwelling units, and the doors were not self-closing.  If a fire began in my room and I ran out and left the door open, the smoke and flames would spread freely, compromising the means of egress and making the fire much more difficult for firefighters to fight.  This product was designed after many years of first-hand experience with these fires.

The creators of the product would love some feedback, ideas, and constructive criticism, and I know exactly who to ask.  You!

37 Responses to “Cease Fire Door Hinge”

  1. Ryan P says:

    Very cool idea. That would be great for retrofit applications, or where budgets are very limited.

    However, I am curious about closing force. I have no doubt that it would close/latch a door that starts from an open position of 70 degrees or more, but what if a door is only left open, say 15-20 degrees? Would the spring in the hinge have enough coiled energy to close and LATCH the door after the fusible link has been broken?

  2. Roger Black says:

    good idea but no help for smoke.

    • Lori says:

      I asked about that too, and although automatic-closing doors actuated by smoke would be more effective at preventing the spread of smoke, it’s unlikely that an automatic-closing device would be installed due to the cost. Based on his experience, the firefighter said that these will help with smoke even though they wouldn’t close as quickly as a smoke-actuated door would.

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      Well we believe it will help with smoke. When a fire starts it plumes upward to the ceiling then outward till it reaches its max expansion then starts to come down. The space between the ceiling and the top of the door will fill with smoke and superheated gases. The conduction of heat to the link will activate that link before any significant amount of smoke enters the room closing the door compartmentalizing the fire to its inception spot.

  3. Common Tator says:

    I wonder about the possibility of mischief. If the fusible link is activated, then allowed to drop back to a lower temperature, would it interfere with normal operation?

    • Lori says:

      I think if the fusible link is activated the hinge will just be a spring hinge after that. I don’t know how many people would know to fool around with it.

  4. Tyler J. Thomas says:

    Is there any reasoning behind just the top hinge? I presume because heat rises or flames/heat are more likely to occur at that height?

  5. Cda says:

    Appears it would only work on one side of the door more effectively than the other side

    Not a fan of fusible link doors, I think building will burn before a fusible link activates

    On this application the hinge/ sensor is at least a foot down if not better

    So heat rises first , depending on size of room the sensor is located, the ceiling area has to fill with heat, and than get down to the level of the sensor.

    By that time you might have a good size fire

    I guess if not much cost , they are better than nothing

    About what temp are they designed to activate at???

    Any web site for this ????

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      Being in a fire many times has taught me don’t stand up in a fire. The smoke and superheated gases at the ceiling level are way more than enough to set off the fuseable link before the person in the room is overcome by smoke or before you have a fully involved structure. The temperature we had it set in our own testing was I believe 130 degrees. We don’t need this set at 400 degrees. It will never be over 130-150 ( obviously depending on climate for which we can adjust the set off temperature) at the celing level or even 200 degrees if you want to play it safe. But in a fire it will reach 200 degrees very quickly

  6. Gary Huizen says:

    Whats wrong with a normal door closer?

    • Lori says:

      You know I love door closers but not all building owners will pay for them, especially if the doors aren’t fire rated.

  7. Jack Ostergaard says:

    Regarding your comment about 20 min doors – 20 min doors are required in 1 hour rated corridors. Other 1 hour walls have 45 min and 60 min door requirements. But if the building is sprinkled the requirement for 1 hour corridors is exempted and thus the 20 min doors are also gone. Based on the concept that sprinklers are better than a closed door.

  8. Daniel Davis says:

    It looks like to me just from watching the video(which by the way I love the emphasis on “the door”) they would require a lot more spring pressure. Especially if needed to overcome additional pressure caused by fire. It could be of service in the right circumstances, but wouldn’t want owners to get the idea that it’s a “fix all” solution etc.
    I look forward to seeing actual fire test videos instead of the heat gun demo.
    Thanks for the post, and I encourage more innovation.

  9. Bob J says:

    Fusible link?!! Say it ain’t so! Fusible links are dangerous and went out with the dinosaurs. In addition to the above comments regarding door position issues, it appears the spring stays in a wound condition that, over time, will cause spring fatigue, lessening the closing force. This is nothing but a modified “slammer”.

  10. Tom Breese says:

    Response to Ryan: I don’t like spring hinges, either, but when I do have to use them, I also include a reverse-spring hinge (e.g. Hager Hinge’s #1257) to provide a countering force to the standard spring hinge. The standard spring hinge, or in this case the fusible-link spring hinge, is adjusted to a stronger closing force than the reverse-spring hinge’s countering opening force; where the standard spring hinge’s rate of closing would typically accelerate, the reverse-spring hinge provides a sort of checking. The net spring-against-spring effect is that the door will close at much steadier more-constant rate than what a single spring hinge can provide, whether the door is opened just a few degrees for a person to slither around, or fully opened.

    I think this fusible-link product definitely has a place in the aftermarket — and will hopefully save some lives; I’m sure the firefighters who’ve developed this hinge have some stories to tell. I think packaging the hinge with an inexpensive adhesive-applied smoke gasket would do well. The reverse-spring hinge could be a “premium” up-sell type item.

    I also think that insurance companies could get behind this product. Sure, a lot of landlords can balk at the cost of installing hydraulic door closers, but (IMHO) you’d have to be pretty slimy to not at least use something like this to protect your tenants and your building — juries will not be merciful.

  11. Maxime says:

    My question is the price. But its a kind of new function approaching swing free arm door closer . Also, CAN you thing about this application but linked to fire alarm system rather than fusible link?

  12. Maxime says:

    Idea is good. It acts Like swing free arm closer

  13. DAVID FEDERICO S.H.C. T.C.P.L. says:

    In applications where buildings are less than 4-6 stories ( They don’t mandate self closing devices( in Canada) I can see the cost vs Door Closer savings( that is of course if they are in fact less expensive that a number (2) power door closer selling for approximately $35-40 . Plus installation time and the overall esthetic’s ( look or appearance) . However LIFE SAFETY AND FIRE SAFETY should always be first and foremost in our approach to situations like this. Question? All are units set to a predetermined heat range.. if so how much ?. Smoke often kills more than the actual fire does so why not just install a UL LISTED spring hinge. However having said that nothing can stop some one if they want to prop open a door whether it be fire rated or not and therefore making all including door closers redundant. Interesting product but I think the best solution already exists… spring hinges or door closers… I am not a big fan of spring hinges as there is no door control other than slamming speed. But Like ever one states HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO SPEND? Although I always ask HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO LOSE?

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      The problem you are addressing is for fire doors. We think the best use would be in new construction first such as pre hung doors for bedrooms closets all interior doors to stop the spread of the fire. A Luann hollow core door will hold a fire back for 5 minutes approximately. Imagine this. You put your kids to bed at night you leave the door open because you want to hear if little Johnny is ok a fire breaks out down stairs. His door is open now and like a flue the smoke and heat rise to little johnnies room and he has a problem. But if we have this hinge on his room it gives him 5 more minutes at least for the fire department to get there.

  14. H. M. KANG says:

    All of we know that we have to do persuade customer using door closer related fire alarm system. However, this hinge can be helpful in some cases.
    The one thing that I’m afraid is about the melting material. Is it lead? Some people will concern about it although it’s better than death caused by fire.

  15. Chuck says:

    Years ago, conventional door closers with fusible link
    hold-open arms on fire rated door assemblies were everywhere. I still see them in some
    older buildings, but they are no longer code-compliant according to this article by
    Lori:
    http://idighardware.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Decoded-Apr13-Fusible-Links-and-Smoke-Actuated-Hold-Opens.pdf

    I think they are good for non rated door assemblies if the alternative is no closer at all, but I’d be afraid that cheapskate landlords would be putting these hinges on smoke and fire door assemblies. Even if they are identified as non-compliant in an inspection, I still worry about the “what if” prior to the inspection.

  16. Curt Meskus says:

    I remember the Close The Door PSA, simple and effective

  17. Nabil Hanna says:

    Normally the ball bearing hinge is on the top and using 2 spring hinges (middle and bottom) because of the stress is always on the top.
    The spring hinge is not a load bearing.
    Do we have to use 2 spring as usual?

  18. Kent Krauser, AHC, FDAI says:

    Interesting concept but I have major concerns. Didn’t we eliminate fusible link arm closers many years ago due to their unreliability? Would we advocating a false sense of protection for an opening that knowingly does not meet fire/life safety codes? How about the other hinges on the opening? Are they ball bearing? Non-ferrous? When the door reaches the temperature to melt the fusible link mechanism what happens to the other hinges on the opening if they are brass and/or plain bearing? Will they be functional?

    By using or recommending this product would we be advocating that we ignore the known fact the opening does not meet the basic fire door opening requirements and this is “better than nothing” circumventing compliance with the codes? The ambulance chasers would have a heyday $$ with this one.

  19. Dick B. says:

    Fusible links have gone out with the model “T”.
    One important factor is the temperature it takes to activate the link. We all know that smoke does not activate the link.
    Not a functional piece of hardware.

  20. J.R. Filson says:

    Since these doors referenced are 20 minute (basically a smoke door) intended to protect you in exiting a building, I believe their function is not worth the effort. What temp is required to release the fusible link? Usually that is at about 400 degrees F. Nobody is alive at that temp that allows the apartment, hotel room, or whatever door to close. It might save the building, but probably not the people.

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      I think you are thinking of something different. Why do we need to set it at such a high temperature. We can set it from 130-200 what ever the testing sees fit. But it will hold off a fire for a longer time than the door being open. We see it right now as an interior application that will help compartmentalize the fire

  21. M. J. Wendland, DAHC/CDC, FDHI says:

    Should the inventors really want to know if this is a good idea, they should try to get liability insurance. A sharp underwriter may have issues. Filson, you nailed it.

  22. Amanda Wilson says:

    With considering all of the above legitimate concerns I still believe this product could have a place in the after market sector. It is definitely better than nothing. We all know that apartment residents disconnect closer arms for convenience or prop doors open.

    When I first saw this video, I was reminded of the Chicago apartment fire a few years back when a resident propped the fire door open so the cat could escape resulting in the death of a woman. With this product there would have been no need to prop the door open and providing it works as intended may have closed the door in time.

    I am intrigued by this product because it allows a door to operate normally during non-fire conditions at what I would assume would be a reasonable cost. I think it is worth additional research & development.

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      Thank you Amanda. We have been to many fires in NYC where the front apartment door spring has been disabled with devastating results. Deaths of Firefighters as well as civilians are the result when this happens. Although we do believe this would alleviate that problem I don’t know if codes would be changed for that application. We still think there is an application that would still save lives and that is in all interior doors. Compartmentalizing the fire gives the occupants more time for firefighters to respond and it also lets them respond to a fire that might not be a fully involved structure.

    • Vivian Volz says:

      Aha! That’s what makes the disconnected closer on the demonstration door in the video make sense!

  23. Andy Lindenberg AHC, FDAI says:

    I love the passion we all show, but one thing seems to be frequently missed. Unless I am off base, this product is not intended for fire doors of any kind, so there should be no set requirements, other than that of a regular, plain bearing hinge, ferrous or not. it doesn’t take the place of a required door closer, or (gasp!) spring hinges. A hollow core bedroom door is a perfect application. A little added protection to help keep our families a little safer. If they work a little, we’re better off than without them.

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      Oh thank you Andy. Now you got it. Yes it is for INTERIOR doors. I believe if we can get pre-hung manufacturers to add this to their product line I think new construction would be a lot safer. Unfortunately we know they don’t take fire safety into consideration dare I say parallel chord trusses as an example.

  24. Vivian Volz says:

    I think it’s a product that solves a problem in existing buildings, and I know retrofit architects and housing authorities who need it for low-budget safety improvements.

    To reach the alert audience better, consider re-shooting the hinge replacement portion of the video to use a door without a closer.

    I will want to know, before recommending this product, whether a rated door would require recertification if this hinge were added.

    I noticed that the demonstration door had a painted-over fire label – nice touch of real-world detail!

    I can see this being a big hit with fire marshals and publicly-funded housing authorities and charities.

    • Keith FDNY RET. says:

      I do agree that we should not have used a door with a closer it does confuse things a bit. We are on a budget. We did test the product in a smokehouse that we had access to and the product worked as designed. I would believe that it could be used on a rated door but I think the code would have to be changed.

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