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Jul 07 2016

Fire Door – Time to Close

Category: Door Closers,Fire DoorsLori @ 3:42 pm Comments (3)

The closing speed of a door on an accessible route equipped with a door closer is limited by the accessibility standards to a minimum of 5 seconds to move the door from 90 degrees to 12 degrees from the latch.  This ensures that a door does not close too quickly.  But what about the maximum closing speed of a fire door?  How quickly should the door close?  If the door closes too slowly, could it negatively impact the ability of the fire door to deter the spread of smoke and flames?

This question comes up with regard to delayed action closers, which can hold the door in the open position for a minute or two (I wrote about it here).  Because the model codes do not specifically address whether a delayed action closer can be used on a fire door, it’s left up to the interpretation of the code officials.  To remove the need for individual interpretation, a code change was proposed for the 2018 edition of the International Building Code (IBC).

The original proposal was to allow delayed action closers to be used on fire doors, but to limit the hold-open time to 60 seconds.  The ICC technical committee recommended removal of the 60-second limit, and approved the proposal as modified, so delayed action closers are allowed, regardless of the hold-open time (although an AHJ could object to excessive hold-open time).  The following language has been approved as modified by the committee:

FS 94-15

Committee Action: Approved as Modified

716.5.9.3 Delayed action closers.  Doors required to be self-closing and not required to be automatic closing shall be permitted to be equipped with delayed action closers with not more than 60 seconds delay before the door is closed.

Committee Reason:

Including provisions for delayed action closers is appropriate as they are being widely used. The modification removes the 60 second door-closing time delay as it is an arbitrary number. The committee felt a public comment to address time delay should be considered.

This language will be incorporated into the 2018 IBC, and because it is more of a clarification and not an actual change, it could be used as guidance prior to adoption of the 2018 IBC.

3 Responses to “Fire Door – Time to Close”

  1. Mark says:

    The code language above is a little confusing – “Doors required to be self-closing and not required to be automatic closing…”. Can you explain the difference between self-closing and automatic closing?

    • Lori says:

      Sure – NFPA 80 defines an automatic-closing door as: “A door that normally is open but that closes when the automatic-closing device is activated.” An automatic-closing device is: “A device that causes the door or window to close when activated by a fusible link or detector.” NFPA 80 defines a self-closing door as: “Doors that, when opened and released, return to the closed position.” Typically, a self-closing door will have a door closer or spring hinges, and an automatic-closing door will have a door closer with a hold-open – usually released upon smoke detection. NFPA 80 allows automatic-closing doors to be released by a fusible link (heat instead of smoke), but the model codes require automatic-closing fire doors in most locations to be smoke-actuated.

      The IBC Commentary states: “A self-closing opening protective refers to a fire or smoke door assembly equipped with a listed closer for doors that must be maintained in the normally closed position. When the door is opened and released, the self-closing feature returns the door to the closed position. It is important to distinguish between the terms “self-closing” and “automatic closing” because they are not interchangeable. ‘Automatic closing’ refers to an opening protective that is normally in the open position (see Section 716.5.9.2). Opening protectives with automatic closers are often held open and then returned to the closed position upon activation of fire detectors or smoke detectors or loss of power, which automatically releases the hold-open device and allows the door to close.”

      – Lori

  2. H. M. KANG says:

    Thanks a lot.
    This is just what I need recently.

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