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


Fire Doors

Door Gap Gauge

The instructors in my Fire Door Assembly Inspector (FDAI) class showed us a really handy gauge to measure clearances around fire rated doors, and since I’m going to do my first *official* inspection tomorrow I tracked one down.  It can easily and accurately measure 1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, and 3/8″ gaps, and a 3/4″ undercut.  For […]

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New Requirements for Glass

Building codes have historically contained requirements for safety glass in and adjacent to doors, with an exception that allowed the use of traditional wired glass in fire-rated doors and frames. There was a time when traditional wired glass was the only option for fire-rated doors, but that is no longer the case. The 2003 Edition […]

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Job-Site Preparation of Fire Doors

This morning a customer asked about using continuous hinges to change the hand of a pair of rated doors (inswing to outswing), in an equal rabbet frame.  I couldn’t think of any objections – the existing hinge preps would be filled with steel fillers in compliance with NFPA 80.  The continuous hinges wouldn’t require a hole […]

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Residential Fire Doors

According to the International Residential Code, the door between a private garage and a single family home must provide protection from fire.  The picture to the right is from a fire department website describing how the door between the garage and the home protected the rest of the residence and its occupants.  The door must be […]

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NFPA 80 – 2007

In the last 2 days, a certified fire door inspector and a hardware supplier have both asked me where it is stated that Maine and Massachusetts have adopted the 2007 edition of NFPA 80, which includes the requirement for the annual inspection of fire doors. In Maine, it’s pretty easy: Office of State Fire Marshal, State of […]

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Bondo

I recently conducted a fire door assembly inspection and I noted that many of the existing frames had old holes that had been patched with Bondo filler putty.  NFPA 80 requires that holes left by the removal of hardware must be filled with steel fasteners or with the same material as the door or frame.  […]

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Protection Plates on Fire Doors

A few years ago, an architect that I’ve worked with for over 20 years called me and indignantly asked, “Do you know the maximum height for a kick plate on a fire door?!”  I answered that it was 16″ above the bottom of the door.  The architect said, “Well!  We tried to write our own […]

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Fire Door Clearance/Undercut

The 2007 edition of NFPA 80 contains an important change regarding the clearance at the bottom of a fire rated door.  In previous editions of this standard, there was a somewhat confusing table (Table 1-11.4) listing different allowable clearance dimensions depending on the flooring material.  The 2007 edition simplifies this requirement, allowing 3/4″ clearance under […]

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Hold Open Device

I saw this hold open device on a fire rated door to a computer lab recently. I guess you make do with what you have on hand, right?

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Hinge Fillers

What you’re looking at is an existing fire rated frame with a new door that I saw recently during a fire door inspection.  Most of the other doors that I inspected that day had steel hinge fillers to fill the existing hinge preps before the continuous hinges were installed.  So why were a half-dozen or […]

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How It All Began

This article was written by Carl Prinzler, one of the creators of the original exit device, at the end of the 1930’s.  I think it’s an interesting insight into the development of the first exit device and the code requirements at that time. How It All Began A rambling story of the birth of Von […]

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Opening Force for Fire Doors, Part 1

I got an email today about a fire rated door that would not reliably close with the closer adjusted to provide 5 pounds of opening force.  I did a post on opening force for accessibility a while back, but it’s important to note that fire-rated doors are not required to open with 5 pounds of […]

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NFPA

Did you know that if you register with NFPA (free), you can access the NFPA codes and standards online? Just use this link to register or sign in. Once you’re registered, go to the list of NFPA Codes & Standards, choose the document you’d like to see, and scroll to the bottom of the screen where […]

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Combustible Floor Coverings

I love it when I’m able to solve one of life’s great mysteries.  Today I was asked whether a 90-minute fire rated door required a threshold.  The short answer is “no” but my coworker Greg chimed in to ask about fire rated openings with combustible floor covering running through.  There’s a paragraph in NFPA 80 […]

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Retrofit Dogging

I’ve spent several phone calls this week discussing “dogging” with one of my favorite clients.  I guess it is kind of hard to keep straight if you’re not a hardware person.  The term “dogging” refers to holding the latch(es) of a panic device retracted to create a push/pull function.  When the panic device is dogged, […]

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Temperature Rise Doors

My only hesitation in posting these photos is that they are probably the best photos of Doors Gone Wrong that I have ever seen, and any future photos will pale in comparison.  These are the holy grail of bad door photos, which I received from Eyal Bedrik of Entry Systems Ltd. in Israel.  According to […]

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Temperature Rise Doors

A temperature rise door is a fire-rated door which limits the heat transfer through the door for a period of 30 minutes.  Temperature rise ratings indicate the maximum rise above ambient temperature on the non-fire side of the door, and will be either 250°, 450°, or 650° F.  The 250° door is the most restrictive because it limits the heat transfer to […]

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Exit Enclosure

My last post referenced the term “exit enclosure”, and I received a few questions about its meaning.  An exit enclosure is the enclosure around an exit.  For our purposes it usually refers to a stairwell.  According to the IBC, exit enclosures connecting 4 or more stories require a 2-hour fire resistance rating, and those connecting […]

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Protection Plates in Health Care

There’s an exception in the Health Care chapters of NFPA 101 that I’ve always wondered about.  It’s in the chapters regarding New & Existing Health Care Occupancies (18 & 19), in the section about corridors: 2009 Edition of NFPA 101: 18.3.6.3.12*/19.3.6.3.12* Nonrated, factory- or field-applied protective plates, unlimited in height***, shall be permitted. A.18.3.6.3.12/A.19.3.6.3.12 It […]

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NFPA Journal Door Inspection Article

There’s an article in the May/June 2009 issue of the NFPA Journal about the inspection of egress doors and fire doors.  You can access the article here.  It’s an excellent overview of the inspection requirements found in the 2009 Edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code.  According to NFPA 101 – 2009, the […]

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Louvers in Fire-Rated Doors

When I started working in the door and hardware industry, we regularly installed fusible link louvers in fire-rated doors, as allowed by various door manufacturers’ listings.  Although fusible link louvers are still available, their use is limited by current codes: The IBC – 2009 does not allow louvers in smoke barrier doors in I-2 occupancies […]

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Opening Force for Fire Doors, Part 2

In a post about opening force a while back, I wrote that fire doors do not have to meet the opening force requirements of the accessibility codes and standards. While that IS true, someone recently asked me a question that led to this further explanation. The question was regarding egress doors in a stairwell on a […]

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“For a Quick Exit, Just Block the Fire Door”

Wait a minute – WHAT??? For several months I’ve been trying to find out more about the research that was conducted years ago regarding the use of a mullion on a pair of doors.  It could be one of those urban legends of door hardware, but as the story goes, when a university tested egress through a […]

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Hospital & Nursing Home (I-2) Cross-Corridor Pairs

The 2009 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) contains an important change that’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.  I stumbled across it a few months ago when someone asked me about the exception for cross-corridor doors without positive latching in I-2 occupancies. This exception is found in Section 709 – Smoke […]

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Lock or Panic Protector

I recently received this photo of a door in a hospital with the question, “What does the code prescribe for lock/panic protectors on fire-rated and non-rated doors?” I know some of you will point out that the exit device is not fire-rated (evident because of the dogging hole), and others will note that the glass […]

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Fire Fire Fire

I ran across this photo today on a network security blog (click the photo to go there).  –> Speaking of fire alarms, I had another request today for a lock that ONLY unlocks to allow egress upon fire alarm.  In most cases, this is not code-compliant. There may be certain occupancy classifications (like detention and […]

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FDAI in Specifications

UPDATE:  I wanted to preserve this original post but the recommended specification section on fire and egress door assembly inspections has been updated and is available HERE. As states continue to adopt building and fire safety codes which reference the 2007 or 2010 editions of NFPA 80, the requirement for annual fire door assembly inspections […]

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History Repeats Itself, Again

Once again, failure to follow fire safety and egress code requirements in a nightclub has resulted in a fire with multiple fatalities.  The death toll from the December 4th fire at the Lame Horse in Perm, Russia currently stands at 112 with more than 100 people severely injured. According to news reports, plastic sheeting decorated […]

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NFPA 80 – 2010

I recently received my copy of the 2010 edition of NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors & Other Opening Protectives, and I spent some time today perusing the changes (indicated by a vertical line to the left of the revised text). Many of the changes are related to glazing, and there are some updates […]

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Same Hotel, Different Day

Luckily, we are safely home and the hotel didn’t catch on fire, but I did take a quick tour of the place before we left.  Almost none of the fire doors that I looked at were code-compliant, and I wasn’t being nitpicky. The door to our room had spring hinges and would not latch even […]

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Fire Door Survey

In 2007, the annual inspection of fire door assemblies became a code requirement that is gradually being adopted across the U.S. Given the enormous quantity of fire doors and the relatively small number of qualified fire door inspectors, implementation of this change has been challenging, but because of the appalling condition of the fire doors […]

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Construction Label

Last week I was on a conference call for one of my projects in Washington DC, because of a problem with the specified concealed closer and the fire-rated wood door and wood frame.  The door manufacturer suggested a “construction label,” and most of the call participants needed an explanation of what that was.  I thought […]

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Survey SAYS…

A couple of weeks ago I posted a survey to find out what people know about fire doors.  The purpose was to test my theory that the reason fire doors are improperly modified and damaged hardware is left unrepaired is because people don’t realize a) which doors are fire doors or b) what can or […]

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Survey Q2: “What is the purpose of a fire door?”

This is the 2nd post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent survey. ————————————————————————————————– “Fire protection-rated doors provide critical protection to protect exit enclosures and compartmentalize buildings and stop the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic gases. The proper installation and maintenance of these doors is a critical part of […]

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Survey Q3: “How can you identify a fire door?”

This is the 3rd post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent (unscientific) survey. After filtering out the confessed “door experts” (49) and the people who skipped Question #3 (11), there were 647 responses to this question.  Here are the most common answers to the question “How can you tell […]

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Survey Q4: “What are some ‘rules’ regarding fire doors?”

This is the 4th post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent (unscientific) survey. The survey results included some pretty good answers as to what the rules for fire doors might be.  Quite a few people knew that fire doors should be kept closed, but there’s an important clarification I […]

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Costa Rican Egress / Fire Protection

The hotel with the treacherous handicap ramp (see previous post) was actually a very nice little hotel, but it had some other code-related issues.  I think all of the issues stem from the lack of stringent building codes in Costa Rica, but they’re still a little scary for travelers who happen to be door hardware consultants. Our room […]

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Survey Q4: “What are some ‘rules’ regarding fire doors?”

Back to business after a brief vacation in Costa Rica… This is the 5th post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent (unscientific) survey. Rule #2 – A fire door must be SELF-LATCHING. This means that when a fire door closes, it latches, typically with either a lockset/latchset or fire […]

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Survey Q4: “What are some ‘rules’ regarding fire doors?”

This is the 6th post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent (unscientific) survey. For anyone who is just tuning in or has lost track of this series of posts, I conducted a survey about what the general public knows about fire doors and I learned 2 things – 1) […]

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Survey Q5 – “Which doors are fire doors?”

This is the 7th post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent (unscientific) survey. The real answer to this question is “it depends.”  Stair doors are almost always fire doors, main entrance doors – almost never.  Offices, bathrooms – rarely.  Storage, corridors – sometimes.  You get the picture.  As a […]

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Survey Q6-7-8 – Repairs are Expensive but Necessary

This is the 8th post in a series about fire doors and the results of a recent (unscientific) survey. I have kids in elementary school and preschool, and I know about the financial crisis most of our schools are facing.  The school system in our town is trying to overcome a $10.3 million budget gap […]

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Full Surface Hinge

I’ve been writing a lot about fire doors lately, and specifically about what bad condition many existing fire doors are in.  The codes have always required fire doors to be kept in good working order, but with the specific requirement for the annual inspection of fire doors it will hopefully bring more of these deficiencies […]

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Parkside West Fire

Last Tuesday night, approximately fifty people were left homeless by a fire at the Parkside West Apartments in New London, Connecticut, which apparently began on a stove in a 3rd-story apartment.  One of the newspaper accounts of the fire investigation reported that the fire marshal stated “in the third-floor apartment where the fire is believed […]

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Triangle Factory Fire – 99 Years Ago Today

The fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City on March 25th, 1911, claimed 146 lives – mostly young immigrant women.  Building owners locked the exit doors to keep the workers in and the union organizers out, so when a fire broke out on the 8th floor it was impossible for some of […]

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Stairwell Doors

I think I’ve seen so many non-code-compliant doors that I’m becoming numb to them.  In the old days I would be spurred into action by the sight of a blocked exit or propped-open fire door.  Yesterday I was at the local bagel joint and I saw their marked emergency exit blocked with stored high-chairs.  No […]

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Boston Back Bay Fire

There was a 9-alarm fire last week in Boston, in a 10-story condominium building.  Several residents had to be rescued by firefighters, because they didn’t evacuate the building immediately when the alarm sounded.  One resident, who waited 10-15 minutes (by her estimate) to leave, found a stairwell full of smoke and a locked door to […]

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Rosepark Care Home

A while back, I wrote a post about the requirement for fire doors to be self-closing, and I referenced a fire at the Rosepark Care Home in Uddington, Scotland.  The fire occurred in 2004, but the results of the investigation are being reported now.  I’ve been collecting news articles related to fire and egress doors […]

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Don’t Get Burned

On Thursday, May 13th, the New England Chapter of the Door & Hardware Institute will be holding our meeting at a new location – Vinny T’s in Dedham, Massachusetts.  The meeting topic is fire door assembly inspection (FDAI), and many of the local fire door inspectors will be participating in the presentations.  The format is […]

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Smoke – The Series

It’s official.  I can’t hide from it any longer.  People ask me about “smoke doors” almost every day, but if you know me you know that I have a lot going on, so whenever I try to scale the mountain of information about this topic I get sidetracked by the little things that need my […]

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Smoke – NFPA 105

I usually like to start with the quick and easy items on my to-do list, which is why it takes me forever to get to the big stuff.  It’s a fault, and I recognize that, but nobody’s perfect.  I tried to find the easy place to start this series of posts, but there seems to […]

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Smoke – NFPA 80

NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, is a document which most of us in the hardware industry began studying in our earliest hardware school courses and refer back to throughout our careers.  This standard is THE publication on fire doors, and is referenced by all of the codes and standards […]

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Reader Photos

Some creative and unusual hardware applications sent in by blog readers: From James Caron of Kamco Supply of New England, a rated elevator door with deactivated spring hinges and a luggage cart just in case they suddenly became self-closing again, and a mismatched mag-holder and armature location rectified with a chain: Sent by Bob Caron […]

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FDAI Specification – Revised

A while back, I posted some recommended specification language regarding the annual inspection of fire and egress door assemblies, and I have since revised it based on everyone’s comments.  The original language and comments are still here, and the updated language is below.  This should be inserted into the hardware specification for projects designed to […]

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Reader Photos

Maybe I should have a new series called “Jeff Tock’s Photos.”  🙂  Jeff is one of the Ingersoll Rand trainers who travels the world teaching people about hardware, and he sees a lot of “special applications.”  Jeff sent me this group of photos recently (thanks Jeff!): This bank of doors is in a large convention […]

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Mouse Holes

These doors are from the same children’s museum as the planetarium exit doors in the previous post.  I first noticed the “mouse hole” at the bottom of one pair, and wondered why it was there, until I saw multiple other holes with wires running through. I don’t know if these doors were originally fire-rated; the […]

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Back to School

I received these photos last week and I didn’t have much advice…maybe someone else does.  These are classroom doors in a school for autistic children, and the extra locksets are due to the special needs of the students.  The students are unable to retract both latches at the same time (if they can even reach […]

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Coat Hooks

A couple of weeks ago, someone called to ask me where in the codes it states that 12 coat hooks can not be mounted on a 90-minute rated wood door.  I have to admit, that was a new one. I have  no idea how or why someone would mount 12 coat hooks on one door.  They […]

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Good News / Bad News

First the good news.  When the annual DHI conference was held in Boston, I conducted a 3-hour code class for architects (I later conducted the class for our DHI chapter.).  Public speaking isn’t my favorite thing to do, so when one of the attendees approached me before class started and said, “You’re not REALLY going […]

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2009 IBC / 8th Edition Mass Code

If you missed the New England Chapter DHI meeting last week…a Q&A presentation on codes, the question/answer document and the handout are now available on the chapter website.  You can download them here:  Q&A Document / Handout You also missed out on some great examples of why fire doors and egress doors should be inspected annually!    […]

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Reader Photos: Cruise Ship Doors

I have received SO MANY reader photos lately – THANK YOU!  Jim White of Doornorth & Millwork Specialties sent me a whole bunch of door photos from a recent cruise that he went on.  I think I need to go do some research! Does anyone know what the little hinged panel is at the bottom […]

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Labels for Fire-Rated Frames

Questions about frame labels have come up several times this week, so I guess it’s time for a post.  I’ve pulled together some information from various sources and I hope some of you will chime in with your input. The most common questions on this topic are: Can a label on a fire-rated frame be […]

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NFPA 80 & NFPA 105

Next Tuesday is the proposal closing date for the 2013 editions of NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, and NFPA 105 – Standard for the Installation of Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives. If you’d like to propose any changes, either submit a proposal online or let me know […]

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Movie Night

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me whether the exterior exit doors for a movie theater required panic hardware, and in my opinion, the answer is a resounding YES!  Movie theaters are considered assembly occupancies, and the occupant load is well over the limit (50 or 100 occupants depending on the code) that would […]

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Cocoanut Grove & Our Lady of the Angels

When I teach a code class, I often begin by talking about some of the tragic fires that have shaped today’s codes.  Because of the lessons learned from these fires and the code changes that resulted, the safety of building occupants has been greatly improved. I talk about the role that doors played in the […]

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Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire

Fire doors and egress doors are critical for protecting life safety and property, and inspections can save lives.  The news reports speak for themselves: 26 killed in factory fire – 12/15/10 – The Daily Star “Witnesses said four out of seven exit staircases were closed. Desperate to flee the heat and smoke, some workers jumped […]

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Reader Photos

I’m in the mood to clean house (figuratively speaking only), so here’s the latest collection of reader photos to hit my inbox.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send them.  More, please.  🙂 These are from Nolan Thrope of the Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies office in New York City (hover to […]

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Another Hotel

I don’t stay in flea-bag motels – I really don’t.  That’s why it amazes me that almost every hotel I stay in has extreme issues with their fire doors.  I’m on a short vacation with my family, and as you can see from the graphic on the right, the resort consists of several connected 2-story […]

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Top Hinge Retrospective

We’re back from our vacation, but I have some more photos to share before I finish up this unplanned series on hotel doors.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, our hotel was a series of buildings connected by propped open, non-latching, damaged doors which were originally fire rated (as indicated by the painted labels).  […]

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Faulty Fire Doors in the News

I’ve been doing some research for my FDAI presentation, looking for specific examples of how the inspection of fire doors and correction of deficiencies can have a direct impact on life safety as well as the protection of property.  It’s not very often that you see fire doors in the news, but these two recent […]

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Casino Wrap-Up

Considering how many photos I took of doors during my Mommy’s weekend at Foxwoods, it’s a good thing I’m not a gambler.  I wouldn’t have had any time to check out the doors if I was stuck at the slots.  I can’t imagine what Las Vegas will be like…I hope I don’t get arrested like […]

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$63,000 Fine

Sometimes I feel like a broken record.  Like maybe people are sick of hearing me talk about fire and egress doors, how they protect us, and what happens when they are disabled or neglected.  When I meet someone, I don’t immediately launch into a discussion about doors because I’m pretty sure they’ll think I’m a […]

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The Rest of the Story…

The other day I posted some photos of a fire door that had done its job and prevented a fire from spreading.  Several of you emailed me about the photos, because they’re SUCH a great illustration of what a fire door is for.  It’s easy to imagine what would have happened if it was propped […]

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Decoded: Single Operation Egress (February 2011)

This post was printed in the February 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware [Click here to download a reprint of this article.] It’s hard to believe that this question still comes up as often as it does, so I’m hoping to definitively answer it once and for all.  The question is “Do single bathrooms require […]

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Hospital Stops

Every so often, I wonder what I’m going to write about on this blog after I’ve covered all of the code requirements for doors and hardware.  I mean, it’s a very specific subject area so at some point I could run out of questions.  And then something comes up that I’ve never looked into, and […]

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More Doors After Fires

Judging from the photos, these doors may not have been code-compliant, but they were still able to hinder the spread of smoke and fire, at least to some extent.  That does not mean that any old non-compliant door will be fine so we might as well stop worrying about them…one of the biggest issues with […]

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WW: Another Fire Door in Action

Photos posted with permission from Newcastle University.

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No Wedging Allowed

The suit was in regard to the breach of security caused by wedging open the fire door, but I thought this was kind of interesting: From the Southwark News… ‘SHUT THAT DOOR!’ 26 January 2011 A Borough resident will have to learn to ‘shut that door’, otherwise she will be breaching a bail condition imposed […]

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WW: More Doors After a Fire

    Photos posted with permission from Newcastle University.

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Ballroom Entrance

The hotel in Las Vegas where we had our sales meeting had a Moroccan theme…I felt right at home since my husband is originally from Morocco and I love that style.  The entrance doors to the ballroom had a pattern created by contrasting stain and oversized metal brads.  They’re labeled doors so I wonder whether […]

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Voodoo Ritual (& Open Fire Door) Results in Fatality

It’s tough enough to get anyone to pay attention to fire doors, but when a fire is a result of a “voodoo sex ceremony,” there’s little to no chance that anyone will take note of the role played by the propped-open fire door.  In a 5-alarm fire in Brooklyn on February 20th, the door to […]

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Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Anniversary

March 25th, 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history (with the exception of 9/11) – a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in which 146 people were killed.  This tragedy will be the subject of an episode of the PBS series, American Experience, airing tomorrow – February […]

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Signage on Fire Doors

Just when I was wondering what I should post about tonight, I received this photo from Brendan Daley of SURV. From an informational aspect, it’s a great sign…it tells the building occupants that it’s a fire door and how the door should be treated.  Unfortunately, signs can’t be installed on fire doors using screws! Here […]

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WW: Another Door Involved in a Fire

Photo courtesy of Newcastle University.

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Evelyn Gardens

I received an article today about a fire at the Evelyn Gardens apartment complex in Albany, California, which resulted in $400,000 in damage and one fatality.  In the article, Fire Chief Marc McGinn is quoted several times in regard to apartment entry doors.  Here’s an excerpt: ” ‘Closing doors on fires can save lives,’ he […]

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Woodstock, Ontario Apartment Fire

When I lived in a condominium complex in the mid-90’s, I don’t think I gave much thought to fire safety.  I remember hearing the fire alarm in the middle of the night and going out to my balcony to see if I could smell smoke.  If not, it must be a false alarm.  That seems […]

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Decoded: Closers on Classroom Doors (April 2011)

This post was printed in the April 2011 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download a reprint of this article.] I had heard the rumors about a change to the Life Safety Code that would exempt classroom doors from needing closers, but I finally had time to track it down.  Here’s the scoop: […]

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Reader Photos – 1 of 2

I’ve received lots of reader photos lately…thank you, and keep ’em coming! From Kurt Roeper of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, taken on his recent trip to China.  In the facility’s defense, iDigHardware seems to be blocked by the Great Firewall of China, so it’s no wonder they have hardware problems.  The first photo is of […]

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Reader Photos – 2 of 2

Here’s the second batch of reader photos.  My emailbox is empty now.  Not. From Steve Poe of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, a hospital pair that was wrong from the start.  The gravity coordinator doesn’t work, which is why they want people to use the lever handle. From Hal Kelton of DoorData Solutions, some photos of […]

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WW: Hollow Metal Doors (Literally)

I saw both of these doors today, in two different facilities.  Yes, they are both fire rated.  One is a cross-corridor pair and one is a stair door.

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Feeling the Heat: Fire Doors – Building.co.uk “Incorrectly specified fire doors could, at worst, cost lives. Now a landmark legal case could mean that it’s the contractor and specifier who will end up in court.” Ten dead in Delhi factory fire, all exits were blocked – Indo-Asian News Service “Prima facie it appears that the […]

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Mag Holder Extensions

I’m getting ready to head to NYC to do a presentation for the DHI chapter there, so here are some quick photos of a cross-corridor fire-rated pair sent in by Andy Olson of Reliable Glass and Door.  There has to be some sort of rule against this.

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Yet Another Apartment Fire

How many more fires is it going to take before people understand that closed and latched doors save lives, code-compliant fire doors are self-closing and self-latching, and annual fire door inspections will make sure they stay that way? It’s simple, really. But the message is not getting through, and people continue to die – this […]

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Decoded: Opening Protectives (June 2011)

This post was printed in the June 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware [Click here to download a reprint of this article.] Over the years, I’ve heard many people mention the rule of thumb that the rating of the fire door assembly is “3/4 of the rating of the wall.”  Although the fire door rating […]

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Door to Nowhere

This photo of a door in a city hall came from another blog, A Firefighter’s Own Worst Enemy.  The blog is written by Jason Hoevelmann, a Deputy Fire Chief / Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Protection District.  Jason and the firefighters who frequent his site have a totally different perspective on doors than we do, […]

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Hotel Vendome Fire, Boston

Today is the 39th anniversary of the fire at the Hotel Vendome, in which 9 firefighters lost their lives when the building unexpectedly collapsed during mop-up operations.  Stephanie Schorow, author of 4 books about Boston, spoke about the Hotel Vendome fire, the Cocoanut Grove fire, and the Great Boston Fire of 1872 in this video […]

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Doors in Pockets (not Pocket Doors)

Every time I specify hardware for a door that swings into a pocket, a little alarm sounds in my head because at least 50% of the time there will be a problem that urgently needs to be fixed at the end of the job.  This application requires coordination between the architect designing the pocket, the […]

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Lever Return

I originally published the post below in May 0f 2009, but I’m trying to gather some information so I’ve pulled it up to the front again.  Please take a moment to answer the quick survey about lever return in your area.  Thanks!Click here to take a quick survey. Over the years I’ve heard many times […]

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Staples Center Follow-Up

I’ve obviously been slacking because this video was posted a month ago.  It’s a follow-up to a report about the flawed fire safety system at the Staples Center, including problems with their fire doors.  Here’s a link, in case you missed it too. Kudos to Robert Flores of Fire Door Consulting and Inspection Services for […]

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Social Media Roundup

Here are some links to recent door-related social media activity.  Enjoy! Check out Ginny Powell‘s blog post about attending an electrified hardware class and putting the information to good use on A Cracked Door. Life Safety Services tweeted this news story about fire door problems and other code violations at Campus Habitat. David Stutzman has […]

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Reader Photos

Here’s the latest batch of photos sent in by blog readers.  Thanks everyone! The photos were sent in by Jim Bystry of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, and were sent to him by Randy Roberts of Chown Hardware.  Have any of you seen a lock like this?  Tell us about it!  [I was originally told that […]

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9/11

I can’t believe it has been 10 years already.  I’ve seen a lot of remembrances in the media this week…it’s one of those moments in time when we’ll never forget where we were, what we were doing, who we were with, how we felt.  I was about 6 weeks away from having my first child, […]

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WWYD?: Back-to-Back Doors

Which product application do you use when you have doors that open back-to-back and need to close upon fire alarm?  I was just explaining my preferred option to a specwriter last week, and then these photos arrived…perfect timing! When I have a door on an electrified hold-open that opens against the wall, I prefer to […]

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Fire Door Brain Teaser

Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products showed me this pair of fire-rated doors last week.  He mentioned that the architect had to change the arch to make it a “flatter” curve because of the rating, and that they had to use continuous hinges instead of butt hinges.  Who can tell me why? UPDATE: You guys […]

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New York Minute

Holy cow…I am bone-weary.  I feel like I ran on adrenaline the whole time I was in NYC, and the 5-hour ride home in the rain and snow was the icing on the cake. The days at the DHI Conference flew by, but what a great time!  I caught up with a lot of my […]

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WWYD? Cross-Corridor Pair

Thanks for your patience, everyone.  My week “off” was followed by our Thanksgiving holiday, so I haven’t posted as much lately.  But I’m back, and I saw lots of doors while I was away. A question was sent to me recently by Dr. Nabil Hanna of Merryland International in Egypt.  I ran out of ideas […]

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Social Media Roundup

There have been a lot of interesting door-related stories in the news lately.  In case you missed my Tweets… Boy trapped in school stairwell for 9 hours – KTLA ” ‘It is normal for the door to be padlocked but it has to happen after the last person exits the building,’ Fernando Gallard of the […]

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Apartment Fire – North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

UPDATE:  More articles added at the bottom of the post. The other night, one of my friends (you know who you are) was talking about how I post “stories about people dying because they didn’t have the right kind of hardware.”  Well, that’s sometimes true and if he got the message maybe someone else will […]

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Reader Photos

I have spent this entire week at our corporate office, so I haven’t had a lot of time for posting.  In return for your patience, next week I will post the third and final article from Lewis C. Norton’s “How I Discovered Door Checks.”  That seems fair, right? I’m here in Carmel with about a […]

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Multiple-Dwelling Fire Safety

Last week I wrote about a tragic fire in Chicago, in which Shantel McCoy was killed.  I provided links to several articles in my post, but in a nutshell… a) The residents of the apartment of fire origin left their door open in hopes that their cat would escape. b) The open door allowed smoke […]

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Edge Channels

Even though I risked being called a weirdo by my colleagues, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to learn more about the 5″ wide edge channels that are sometimes required on fire-rated wood doors with concealed vertical rod exit devices.  When these channels show up on the jobsite without warning, architects tend to […]

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Fire Doors – WIN!

I LOVE THIS PHOTO! It is a building in Norrköping, Sweden, which was attached to another building that burned down.  The fire doors in the photo (and the wall, and of course the valiant efforts of the firefighters) prevented the fire from spreading to this building.  The building in which the fire started was very […]

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Hartford Hospital Fire (Video)

December 8th, 2011, was the 50-year anniversary of a fire at Hartford Hospital which caused the death of 16 patients, staff, and visitors, and resulted in many important changes to code requirements for hospital construction.  Connecticut Public Television has just released a video about the tragedy and the resulting code changes.  Other than the statement […]

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WW: Adhesive (Tape) Label

Sent in by an anonymous fire marshal who is getting quite the education in fire door assemblies.  🙂

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More Reader Photos

These ALL came from Jeff Tock, one of our national trainers who spends most weeks traveling around conducting classes and sees a lot of doors in the process.  Jeff will be here in New England in a few weeks conducting the “Preparing for a Fire Door Inspection” class for facilities.  If you work for a […]

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20-Minute Fire Doors

Last week I was teaching a class in a room with a pair of fire doors that had some issues.  Anyone care to list some of them?   While we were discussing the lack of positive-latching on these doors, someone mentioned that 20-minute doors didn’t need positive-latching at one point in time.  I had just […]

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Follow-Up: 20 Minute Fire Doors

Last week I posted some photos of a pair of 20-minute doors with some “issues,” and I want to thank everyone who left comments with their thoughts on the situation.  Often, people tell me that they know something is required but aren’t sure where to find it written, so I thought it would be good […]

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WWYD: Hotel Electric Room

UPDATE:  This application was discussed at length on the Building Codes Forum, so go check it out to see what the AHJs had to say.  The final decision was that the door should have been a 20-minute door, even if the contents of the electric room did not require a higher rating.  As a 20-minute […]

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WW: Reader Photos

Thanks to y’all I’m never short of reader photos, and these photos leave me wordless…just in time for Wordless Wednesday! From David Chaffin of HARD/SPECS, some theater doors in his town with creative security devices: From Darren Patton of Isenhour Door…how does this happen?  If I was being sneaky, I would ditch the green tape. […]

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Doors of Miami Beach

I’m spending the night in Miami Beach for the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) conference.  I had some free time this afternoon so I took a drive around looking for some doors to share with you all.  Despite my hunting, almost every commercial door I saw was run-of-the-mill aluminum storefront.  No custom pulls, […]

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Fire Watch

When I teach classes about fire doors, one of the most common questions is regarding modifying fire doors in the field.  NFPA allows limited modifications to be done in the field, and if doors are to be modified beyond what is allowed by NFPA 80, they are supposed to be taken back to a UL/WH […]

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

The surprising and sad thing about these news stories that came across my desk this week is that none of these fatal fires were first-time occurrences.  Four people were killed in the Ontario retirement home fire that is the subject of a current inquest, but a total of 45 people have been killed in Ontario […]

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Effects of Fire Doors on an Apartment Fire

On January 19th, 2011, Firefighter Mark Falkenhan was killed in the line of duty while fighting an apartment fire at 30 Dowling Circle in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland.  The fire was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the video below details the events leading to this […]

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Prevention Points: Ripped from the Headlines

Sometimes I feel like maybe I’m a little *too* passionate (borderline weird) when it comes to doors and their code issues.  Today I struggled with whether or not to call the fire marshal regarding the indoor playground I posted about earlier in the week.  At the urging of some AHJs in other parts of the […]

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Everywhere I Go

As always, I’ve been noticing interesting doors everywhere I go… On this new grocery store, I saw a bank of doors with LCN 4040SEH holders, LCN 4041 closers, and Von Duprin 9927 panic hardware.  The SEH units caught my eye because they’re not that common.  The 4040SEH is an electric hold-open for use on fire […]

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Qatar Mall Fire

This is why we have codes, and code officials.  A fire in an upscale shopping mall in Qatar has killed 19 people, including 13 children and 4 teachers from a child care center within the mall.  It is reported that the sprinkler system did not function, at least one staircase collapsed, floor plans were not […]

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Decoded: Electric Strikes on Fire Doors (June 2012)

This post was printed in the June 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] Someone recently asked me why, after going to architectural school, I decided to become a hardware consultant instead of an architect.  Right around graduation, I decided that I couldn’t become an architect because […]

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Keyes Life Safety Compliance

I met Brad Keyes a couple of years ago when he emailed me to ask about the requirements for the annual inspection of fire doors.  Since then, Brad has become my trusted resource on health care life safety requirements.  He has started a blog for his health care consulting firm (KeyesLifeSafety.com), and covers various topics […]

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Q&A: Silencer Holes

Question:  When adhesive smokeseal is installed on a fire-rated frame, the silencers are not installed and the silencer holes are left open beneath the gasketing.  NFPA 80 says that rated doors and frames are not allowed to have any open holes.  Are the open silencer holes a problem? Answer:  The open silencer holes will be […]

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WW: Unhinged

I’d like to tell you where I got these photos but then I’d have to kill you and that would be bad for business.  😀 They are posted with permission from someone who’s spending A LOT of time looking at fire doors lately. And yes, these are fire doors: And in case you’re not sure […]

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Retail Store Entrance – Fire Doors?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that our annual Fathers Day tradition is to go to Ogunquit, Maine, walk along the Marginal Way, do some shopping, have lunch, and then play on the beach (here are some photos from last year). While we were there yesterday I saw the […]

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WW: Raceway

I received this photo from Nancy Bailey of Girtman & Associates, a division of Bass Security Services.  I’m guessing that the slack in the wire is so that it can be run around the outside of the glass kit.  If this was a fire-rated door, would this method be acceptable?

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Q&A: Electric Latch Retraction on Fire Doors

Question:  I was told that I couldn’t use dogging on panic hardware installed on fire doors.  Is it acceptable to use electric dogging? Answer:  The short answer is “yes.”  Here’s the longer answer: One of the cardinal rules of fire doors is that they need to be “self-latching.”  During a fire, a fire door must […]

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Decoded: Fail Safe vs. Fail Secure – When and Where? (August 2012)

This post was printed in the August 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] This question comes up a lot… “When do I need to specify/supply/install fail safe electrified hardware and when should I choose fail secure?”  First, some basic definitions: Fail safe products are unlocked when […]

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WW: No Posting

  Thank you to Hal Kelton of DoorData Solutions for sharing these.  If you’ve seen something that leaves you “wordless,” send me a photo!

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Decoded: Less Bottom Rod Fire Exit Hardware (September 2012)

This post was printed in the September 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware Vertical rod fire exit hardware is available with top and bottom rods and latches, or with the top rod and latch only – known as “less bottom rod” or “LBR” devices.   Eliminating the bottom rods and latches can help to meet accessibility […]

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Q&A: Panic Hardware vs. Fire Exit Hardware

Question: What’s the difference between panic hardware and fire exit hardware?  And what’s an exit device? Answer: An exit device is the general term for panic hardware, a panic device, or fire exit hardware.  An exit device may be of the touchpad, crossbar, or recessed style, and it’s characterized by an actuating mechanism that spans […]

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Aurora Apartment Fire

This morning I read about a fire in Aurora, Colorado, at a 4-story apartment building.  The fire occurred Monday night, and it’s possible that it is the result of arson.  Sadly, there were two fatalities – a couple who had lived in the building since the 1970’s. Because the hallways were fully involved right away, […]

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Aurora Apartment Fire Follow-Up

Earlier in the week I published a post about a fire in Aurora, Colorado.  Today I ran across this news report which shows an apartment where the door was open, vs. an apartment where the door was closed.  The reporter states that the doors were 2-hour rated, which is not typical, but some good publicity […]

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UL Fire Doors <32" Wide

UPDATE:  As of October 4, 2012, UL has reversed this directive.  The bulletin can be downloaded here. I was hoping to hold off on posting anything about this until there was some sort of resolution, but I’m seeing so many emails and discussions I decided to post what I know now, and follow up when […]

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Filling Holes in Fire Doors

Whenever I teach a class on fire door inspection, questions always come up about holes in fire doors and how to fill them.  I promised a class of 120 last fall at the Yankee Security Conference that I would write a blog post about it, but there was really no good solution, particularly for wood […]

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WW: Measure Twice Drill 8 Times

I recently saw this closer prep on a brand-new fire door.  Now what?

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Free Webinar:  NFPA 80, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Swinging Fire Doors Sponsored by DHI, FDAI, Door Security & Safety Foundation, & Intertek August 28, 12:30 – 2:00 pm EST Building owners and managers, authorities having jurisdiction, and the fire door inspectors all have important roles and responsibilities in a building’s annual fire door inspection process. […]

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WW: Hotel Doors

How is it possible that hotels almost always have fire and egress door issues?  It seems like they would get it right once, then duplicate those good applications across the chain and make sure that they’re maintained.  Yet hotels have been a great source of Doors Gone Wrong. Here are some hotel doors from Zeke […]

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Fire Door Inspection – Top 10 Deficiencies

This article was originally published in the Summer 2012 issue of Life Safety Digest, a publication of the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA).  The article has been revised slightly to reference more recent codes. As more jurisdictions adopt editions of the International Fire Code (IFC), NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, or other codes […]

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Follow Up – UL Listings for Narrow Doors

Back in August, I posted some information about a change to the UL procedures regarding fire doors less than 32″ wide.  UL has just issued another bulletin, which reverses the August 2nd bulletin.  There will be no special requirements for labeling doors less than 32″ wide – doors can be labeled in accordance with the […]

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Meeting Room Pair

I’m in Tucson this week for the BHMA Fall Meeting.  My husband thinks it’s all fun and games, but we’ve been working hard on some new standards – one for ligature-resistant hardware and one for residential hardware.  There’s a lot more on the agenda over the next couple of days, but it’s a beautiful area […]

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Closer Pressure Equalizer

Today I was able to spend some time on the trade show floor at CoNEXTions 2012, the Door & Hardware Institute conference.  It was great to see so many old friends and some new products.  My pal and code aficionado, Steve Bettge, tracked me down and escorted me to a booth where there was a product […]

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Providence School Inspections (and more)

Although the schools in Providence, Rhode Island, are supposed to be inspected by code officials annually, some had not been inspected for 10 YEARS.  I wonder how many public schools are in the same boat? From News 10 In other news, a 2nd/3rd grade class at St. Theresa’s School got stuck in their classroom and […]

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WW: Bollard Hold-Open

Yes, this is a fire door, and yes, the bollard is permanently bolted in place. Same facility, another rated pair…one leaf has manual flush bolts and no closer, the other is held open with a wedge: Photos:  Kent Krauser, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies I know this is Wordless Wednesday, but I wanted to mention a […]

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Bangladesh fire: Exit door locked – News 24 Dhaka – The fire alarm: Waved off by managers. An exit door: Locked. The fire extinguishers: Not working and apparently “meant just to impress” inspectors and customers.  That is the picture survivors paint of the garment-factory fire on Saturday that killed 112 people who were trapped inside […]

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A Closed Door – The Best Ally in a Home Fire

I know I just posted some news stories a few days ago, but Zeke Wolfskehl sent another one that I have to share.  It appeared in the New York Times on November 27th.  Considering how difficult it is to make people understand the value of their fire doors and why they should be kept in […]

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Everywhere I Go

I recently compiled my family’s annual photo book, and I found A TON of door photos in the process.  Here are a few doors I’ve seen in my travels… I spotted an egress problem at the local YMCA, and then noticed the issue at the fire-rated stair door.  This facility did a large renovation/addition a […]

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Early Christmas Present

I’m pretty sure I asked for a PAIR of boots for Christmas, but Santa must have misunderstood.  I ended up with one walking boot after falling off of running fountain while trying to take the perfect photo of a door for y’all.  OK…actually I stepped off a little lip in a walkway while checking into […]

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School Security Follow-Up

In the months since the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been renewed efforts on the part of many schools to improve their security and better protect students, staff, and visitors.  While I’m very glad to see the focus on these improvements, I’m also very concerned about some well-meaning but misguided […]

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WW: Exit in Disguise, Fire Door with Accessories

Chuck Noble of Certified Fire Door sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos.  At the risk of stating the obvious, exits have to be visible and can’t be concealed by decorations, and items attached to a fire door must be listed for that use.

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Code-Compliant Doors: What to Look For

This article was published in the February 2013 issue of the Locksmith Ledger: I was recently contacted by a locksmith from a local university who attended my class on fire door inspection last year.  A new dormitory on campus is in the final stages of construction, and many of the fire doors have been installed […]

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Effects of Earthquake Damage on Fire Safety

While this test report was not heavy on door-related data, I thought some of you would enjoy reading about this groundbreaking study which looked at how a test building was affected by several simulated earthquakes, and then how the damaged building’s fire safety systems performed in a series of fire tests.  I found the video […]

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Solution for Oversized Undercuts

Last year as one of my projects neared completion, the architect called me to say that the bottom latches of the fire exit hardware were not long enough to reach the floor-mounted strikes.  This is a pretty common problem because that clearance needs to be very tight for the latch/strike templating – sometimes as little […]

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Q&A: Continuous Hinge Retrofit

Question:  I have a hollow metal fire door that is sagging due to failure of the top hinge reinforcement.  Is it acceptable to remove the butt hinges and install a continuous hinge on the existing door and frame? Answer:  NFPA 80 does not specifically address this application, so it would be dependent on what is […]

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Closed Fire Door Saves the Day!

There’s nothing like a fire at a television news station to make sure that it gets complete coverage.  After a 2-alarm fire at News 4 WOAI in San Antonio, Fire Chief Charles Hood said that the closed 20-minute fire door saved the building. Here’s the report from WOAI: “This is one of the best illustrations […]

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WW: April Fools

This article left me wordless:  Fire Alarm Causes Panic in Housing Facilities Early on April 1, multiple false fire alarms were pulled in the housing quad. According to Interim Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life Lynn Hendricks, who sent an email to all housing students Monday morning following the incident around noon, slippery substances […]

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Decoded: Fusible Links and Smoke-Actuated Hold-Opens (April 2013)

This post was printed in the April 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] In the days before hold-open devices on fire doors and smoke doors were actuated by smoke detectors, fusible link closer arms were often used to hold open doors that were required to close […]

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Fire & Egress Doors in the News

Theodore Firedoor…my hero!  And I’m going to start using the word “dodgy” whenever possible.  😀 High rise tenants asked to report dodgy fire doors in wake of Lakanal tragedy – 24Dash High rise tenants are being urged to report dodgy fire doors in their buildings following last week’s inquest verdict on the Lakanal House tragedy.  […]

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WW: Manufacturer’s Standard Fasteners

This photo of a hospital corridor door was sent by Hyun Myung Kang.  I’m pretty sure this installation doesn’t comply with NFPA 80. 

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

I have read this first article several times and asked my codey friends for their thoughts.  None of us could come up with any national building code requirement for a closer on a non-fire-rated exterior door.  But then again…I try to avoid arguing with a building official.  What say you? Firefighters explain need for automatic […]

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Fire & Egress Doors in the News

Fire in China poultry plant kills more than 100 people – Al Jazeera (vide0) China Poultry Farm Fire: Blaze Kills At Least 119 Workers In Northeastern Province – Huffington Post A swift-moving fire trapped panicked workers inside a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China that had only a single open exit, killing at least 119 people […]

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Online Code Resources

I’ve compiled some of the code resources I currently use, in hopes that some of them might be helpful to you.  If there are other websites that you visit for code information, please leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list. Building Codes Forum:  www.thebuildingcodeforum.com/forum/forum.php I joined this discussion forum in 2009, and […]

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Beautiful Doors of Denver

I’m in Denver for the AIA conference, and this afternoon I played a rousing game of Code Jeopardy with the Denver Chapter of DHI.  If you’re at the AIA conference this week, stop at our booth (#530) to play a short version of Code Jeopardy and your name will be entered to win an iPad […]

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WW: Cut it Out

Yes, this is a fire door.  Anyone see a problem here? Posted with permission from Theodore Firedoor…check him out on Facebook!

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WWYD: Help Wanted

I answer A LOT of questions every day, and I love doing it.  I’m so glad to be able to provide this resource for our staff and customers, and anyone else who comes across my site.  But sometimes I get questions that I don’t have a good answer for, and that’s where you come in.  […]

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Science Lab Doors

Several questions have come up lately regarding the door and hardware requirements for science labs in schools.  When a short article about a chemical fire in a lab storage cabinet came across my desk, I decided to do a little digging.  I found that fires in school science labs are not uncommon, in fact, the […]

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WW: New and Improved Fire Door Hold-Open

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means!  Another application that leaves me wordless!  Jeff Tock of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent me these photos of the integral stop on a door closer being used to hold the fire door open.  Y’all know that’s not ok – right?

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CONSTRUCT: Code Jeopardy!

Visit the CONSTRUCT blog for posts from me and other industry bloggers!  And if you’re an architect or specifier, PLEASE help us better serve you by taking this 2-minute survey on BIM.  I really need your feedback! For a door and hardware manufacturer, it’s not easy to provide engaging training for architects and specifiers, or […]

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Here are a few articles that have crossed my desk recently (and some not-so-recently but I’m cleaning house).  If you find an article that you’d like to share, send it along! Vital Medical Supplies Saved in Blue Care Fire – Queensland Times Shutting a storeroom door has saved a building and vital medical supplies from […]

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WW: Voided Label

This photo was sent to me by Jeff Tock of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, who reported that there were numerous fire doors like this in the same hotel.  Personally, if I did something and saw VOID, I would probably stop and consider what was causing that to happen.

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Reader Photos

Time to clean out the inbox!  Here’s the first batch: A couple people have asked about construction labels lately.  I wrote about construction labels a while ago, but today I received these photos from David Seeley of Clark Security.  Anyone want to guess why these stair doors have a construction label? Jeff Tock of Ingersoll […]

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Reader Photos – What’s wrong with this picture?

I’ve received lots of photos lately that illustrated problems with how products were specified, supplied, or installed.  So let’s play…what’s wrong with this picture??? a) John Gant of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent this fire door photo.  Anybody see a potential problem here? b) Tim Slaughter of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent me this photo […]

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Impact of Citizen Involvement

I love it when people take action to rectify a code issue – especially when it’s a door problem.  Two articles landed on my desk in the last few days about just that – citizens who saw a deficiency and didn’t let it drop until it got some attention.  Both stories are from the UK […]

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Decoded: NFPA 80 – 2013 FDAI Changes (August 2013)

This post was printed in the August 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] As soon as I receive an updated code or standard, the first thing I do is look through it to see what’s new.  When I received my copy of the 2013 edition of […]

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Recent News

Georgia school shooting: A hero emerges – Christian Science Monitor Though the school has a system where visitors must be buzzed in by staff, the gunman may have slipped inside behind someone authorized to be there, Alexander said. The suspect, who had no clear ties to the school, never got past the front office, where […]

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More News

It’s one of my favorite times of the year…”Back to School!”, and school security is all over the news.  How do we keep our kids safe at school? Are police officers the answer? A Charleston police officer adjusts to the elementary school security beat – Charleston City Paper Wilson is going to become a familiar […]

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WW: No power? No problem!

When I’m teaching about the code-compliant ways to hold open a fire door, I always say that my preference is to use a wall-mounted magnetic holder because there are no moving parts, and not much can go wrong if it’s installed correctly.  But if there’s no power to the magnetic holder, it won’t hold the […]

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Reader Photos

Thank you to everyone who has sent me photos of doors they’ve seen in their travels (or while laying on the couch).  Kelly Chimilar from Allmar Inc. noticed these doors with an obvious egress problem while watching Thursday Night Football.  If you don’t know what the problem is, I will hold a special online study […]

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BM TRADA to stream live fire door test – 9/17/13

BM TRADA will be streaming a live fire door test over the internet on 17 September, offering viewers an opportunity to see for themselves the crucial role played by fire doors in saving lives and property. The one-hour fire resistance test will be streamed live from BM TRADA’s testing laboratories in High Wycombe (UK) in […]

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Reader Photos

It’s time to clean out my inbox again!  Here are some of the reader photos I’ve received.  Thanks to all who sent them! Denise Gorski of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies spotted these fire and egress door problems at a hotel.  I’m sure they have been repaired “without delay” as required by NFPA 80, right?   […]

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Fire Doors – Everything you always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask)

This article was published in the October 2013 issue of Construction Specifier and won CSI’s Construction Specifier Article of the Year Award!! Fire doors are an important part of a building’s passive fire protection system, and doors in a means of egress provide life safety by allowing people to exit quickly when necessary. Still, the requirements […]

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FF: More Velcro

People always tell me how much they love Wordless Wednesday – the day I post photos that leave me wordless (speechless).  I think the steady stream of creative applications I’m receiving would support a Friday series to help ease us into the weekends.  I need some help with a catchy name for this category of […]

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WW: Oh Chute!

Hotels seem to be notorious for fire door issues…here’s a perfect example that was found by Chad Jenkins of the National Locksmithing Institute.  Chad wrote: “This hotel has a laundry chute that has self-closing devices on the chute doors.  They are secured behind a fire rated self-closing storage room door (label has been painted over). […]

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St. John the Baptist School – Peabody, Massachusetts

Yesterday was the 98th anniversary of a tragic school fire that took the lives of 22 children between the ages of 7 and 17, who were burned or crushed to death while trying to escape.  The 3-story brick and wood building was engulfed within 5 minutes, and it’s miraculous that more of the almost 700 children and […]

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Specifying Zombie-Resistant Door Openings

While ensuring code-compliance, of course! It’s the time of year when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is said to be at its thinnest, and it seems like a good time to review some security precautions for zombie-preparedness.  While protection from zombies is of utmost importance, it is also critical […]

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Reader Photos

It’s been a while, so here are some of the many photos I’ve received from y’all… Eric Miles of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies saw some evidence that a flush end cap has advantages… And he also sent me a photo of one of my favorite special templates (LCN has more than 3,000 special templates!).  Anyone […]

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WW: Less Top Rod

In case you were wondering, this is not an acceptable application for a fire door.  And I’m not sure if/how it’s working properly, or what’s under the big plate. Photo submitted by Craig Burns of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.

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Swing Free in School?

Over the weekend I visited a local high school for a swim meet.  Right away I noticed MANY pairs of fire doors equipped with LCN Sentronics, which are designed to hold the doors open until the fire alarm sounds and then close the doors to deter the spread of smoke and flames.  Some of these […]

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Cross-Corridor Pairs

When this great Fixed-it Friday photo showed up in my inbox (sent by John Emry), it made me think about the “why” behind the creative modification.  This improvised hold-open device has been retrofitted on all of the stair doors in this particular school.  Presumably, the teacher leads her line of students down the corridor, pushes […]

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Happy Holidays!

And if you decide to decorate your door this holiday season, make sure you don’t create a problem with egress, fire-resistance, or accessibility!

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Doors and Codes in the News

Open fire door killed 2 at Mont Blanc – The Free Press Journal Mumbai: The fire door that was left open near the stair case of the 12th floor of Mont Blanc building in Kemps Corner led to the death of the two domestic helps. Two domestic help of the 17th floor residents died due […]

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CONSTRUCT: Keeping Current on Codes

Visit the CONSTRUCT blog for posts from me and other industry bloggers! A few weeks ago I attended a presentation on accessibility standards at my local CSI chapter meeting.  The meeting was very well attended, as are many of the other code classes that I’ve been to or taught.  As specifiers, we need to stay […]

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Back to Cape Cod

A few years ago I took my family to a resort on Cape Cod for winter break, and I spent this past weekend at the same resort.  On our first visit, I found a lot to write about…the hinges on all of the cross-corridor doors had been modified (sometimes very badly) and were no longer code-compliant […]

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Manhattan High Rise Fire

On January 5th, a fire in a Manhattan high-rise apartment building resulted in the death of building resident Daniel McClung, who was found in a smoke-filled stairwell.  Several other residents were injured, including Mr. McClung’s husband who was also found in the stairwell.  The fire appears to have been the result of an overloaded extension cord […]

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FF: Random Creativity

If any of you attended DHI’s AH2 class in Savannah, Georgia back in the Good Old Days, you may have had one of my all-time favorite instructors – Bob Jutzi.  I actually use a lot of his techniques when I teach, to try to make my classes more engaging and dare I say “fun”?  I […]

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Timbuktu Bar & Banquet Hall Fire

Every day I read news articles about fires, looking for references to fire doors or egress doors.  I’m sure you can imagine my reaction when I see an excerpt like, “The bar was open and occupied at the time of the fire and a fire wall and fire door stopped any fire damage from occurring there, […]

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BUILDINGS BUZZ – Voices from the Industry

I always enjoy having a chance to work with facility managers to make sure they’re up to date on what’s new in my world – whether it’s a new product or a recent code change.  I often answer specific questions and help with product applications one-on-one, but I really appreciate the opportunity to connect with them en […]

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Fire Rated Pair: It’s the thought that counts.

That’s the text message I received from Hal Kelton of DOORDATA Solutions, when he sent me this photo.  😀 On an unrelated topic…next month I will be taking the NFPA Certified Fire Plan Examiner (CFPE) course and exam in Sanford, Maine.  If you may be interested in attending, drop me an email and I’ll tell you […]

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Senior Home Fire – L’Isle Verte, Quebec

One of the worst feelings for me is that of being powerless…of seeing a critical need before me and having no way to help.  I can’t imagine how it felt for the firefighters, neighbors, family members, and others who were forced to watch last week’s senior home fire in Quebec, without any way to rescue most of the residents – […]

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WW: L’Isle Verte Fire Doors

These photos leave me Wordless in a different way than the usual WW photos.  This is a great illustration of what a code-compliant fire door can do.  In the foreground of the top photo…the portion of the senior home in L’Isle Verte that is a total loss, with 32 presumed dead.  In the background, the […]

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FF: Rodless

Instead of maintaining the fire exit hardware on this pair of fire doors, the rods and most of the latches were removed and an exit alarm was installed.  The most disturbing part is that there are doors like this EVERYWHERE…fire doors and egress doors that will no longer perform as designed, tested, and required by code, because […]

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Reader Photos

Here’s a big group of reader photos from the emailbox! Hal Kelton of DoorData Solutions spotted this modification to a magnetic holder in a hospital, and a padlocked classroom door.  🙁   Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products sent me these photos of a heavy duty door stop on a manufacturing facility: More photos from the Polar Vortex, from […]

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The Inspector – by Phil Chandler, CampusFireSafety.org

Last month I wrote about a fatal fire in a Manhattan high-rise residential building, where non-compliant fire doors likely had an effect on the outcome.  There was initially a lot of publicity surrounding this tragedy and even a proposal for new legislation, but as I feared, within a couple of weeks the media was no longer reporting on […]

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WW: Stair Door

Another hotel, another fire door problem.  In case you’re new to this site…this fire door needs a positive latch, and will not perform as designed and tested to protect the stairwell as a means of egress for the hotel guests if there is a fire.  Unacceptable! Thank you to Logan Piburn of Dyron Murphy Architects for […]

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FF: Fire Door

This photo from Linda Varnadore of Allegion left me Wordless, but I couldn’t wait until next Wednesday to share it.  I guess this qualifies as a Fixed-it Friday photo, since someone obviously fixed whatever problems this fire door had by holding it open for the foreseeable future.  🙁  

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WW: Laundry Room

These photos from Jodie Meyers of Phillips-Langley illustrate exactly what Wordless Wednesday is all about.  This fire door leads to a laundry room in the physical education department of a high school.  The door has plenty of problems (feel free to list them in the comments)… But look what’s in the room…does this raise any […]

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Decoded: Terminated Stops and Door Bottom Seals (March 2014)

This post was printed in the March 2014 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] Many hollow metal frames used in health care facilities have terminated stops, also known as “hospital stops” or “sanitary stops.”  A terminated stop is a modification to a door frame, where the stop […]

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Let’s Talk it Over

I don’t know about you, but I used to feel like code officials were mysterious beings…sometimes they seemed a bit unpredictable.  I think a big part of this is because the sections of the codes that we deal with on a daily basis are difficult to decipher if you are not intimately familiar with doors […]

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Fire Walls

Photos of the collapsed buildings show what appear to be fire walls between each of the adjoining buildings, which may have provided some protection from the explosion and resulting fire. The term “fire wall” is often misused…

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Risqué and Risky

Last fall, one of my mom-friends turned 40. To celebrate in traditional fashion, we organized a posse of 13 40-something moms to go to a show. Not a show like the GoGos Reunion Tour…a drag show…

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Continued Vigilance

I’m in Chicago today, to attend a fire test at Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook. This product is designed to be used on fire door assemblies where the clearances are larger than those allowed by NFPA 80…

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FF: Another School “Solution”

First, a few things…For everyone who still has their fingers and toes crossed from yesterday’s fire door test, the wood doors passed! In addition to addressing the perimeter clearance problems, a door shoe was tested…

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Wood Door Dowels

A long time ago, mostly before my time, some wood doors had a dowel on the edge that would indicate the type of core that was used. Several people have asked me to post a chart…

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In the News

The outstanding code violations include missing or damaged fire doors and exposed wiring, he said, and replacement doors and light fixtures have been ordered. An improperly installed gate and a parking problem also have been fixed to accommodate emergency vehicles, he said….

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FF: Access Panel Hold-Open

Here is yet another creative Fixed-it Friday method of holding open what I strongly suspect is a fire door based on the wire glass. If anyone has come up with a good process for educating custodians or other maintenance personnel about fire doors, I’m all ears!

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Multi-Family Fire Door Safety – The Role of Fire Doors

Fire door assemblies play a vital role in the protection of life safety, yet many people remain unaware of their existence. We pass through these doors every day in commercial, institutional, and multi-family residential buildings. A lack of awareness…

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Certified Product Directories

Have you ever been working on a specification or submittal and needed to find out whether a particular product was certified, or listed for a certain application? Maybe the plans show an oversized fire door and you need to see if your preferred manufacturer has tested a door of the proper size…

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Art Institute Fire Doors

These are 3-hour fire doors which divide the modern wing of the museum from the older wings. This is an award-winning museum which houses more than 300,000 works of art in its priceless collection. The chance of a fire may seem unlikely, but if a fire occurs, the wedged-open fire doors will not protect the rest of the museum…

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Coroner: Open Fire Door Resulted in Death

She added: “The one thing that would have made the world of difference, other than the fire not being started in the first place, is if the door to flat 101 (where the fire broke out) had been closed.”…

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FF: Airport Cart Protection

These doors are fire doors and also a marked exit, so a) replacing the fire exit hardware with surface bolts negates the positive latching, b) the rim strike that has been installed with the rim panic is not acceptable for use on a fire door, c) the guide rails prevent the inactive leaf from opening…

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FF: Creative Pair Modification

This one goes out to my friends at Von Duprin Tech Support…I don’t think I’ve ever seen this particular modification before. How about you?…

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WW: Hidden Door

Today’s photo is from Connor Jordan, originally posted on the Door Closer Enthusiasts page on Facebook. I don’t know for sure that this is a fire door, but let’s assume that it is for the sake of this lesson. NFPA 80 (2013) states: “5.1.5 Removal of Door or Window…

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Decoded: Use Groups and Occupancy Classifications (July 2014)

In Chapter 3, the IBC defines each “use group” and NFPA 101 – Chapter 6 describes each “classification of occupancy.” Both terms describe how the building or a portion of the building will be used, and each of these codes contain requirements specific to certain uses…

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Fire Doors in the News

Bain said the fire itself was suppressed fairly quickly, but smoke and hot gases rushed through the hallway and up a flight of stairs, in part because the fleeing tenant left her door open and also because doors elsewhere in the building were propped open…

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Code Implications for Mechanical Hardware

Locksmiths are often called upon to increase security at an existing door or replace hardware that is damaged or defective. There are several code-related issues to note before getting started…

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WW: PREPosterous

Here’s one for those of you who are familiar with hardware installation…what’s wrong with the door in this photo? Hint: It’s a fire-rated electrical vault door…

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The Effect of Oversized Clearances on Fire Door Tests (August 2014)

Rectifying clearance problems can be difficult and costly, so it may be tempting to leave non-compliant doors in place and assume that a little extra clearance won’t affect the performance of the fire door assembly; I can now say from first-hand experience that this is not true…

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See you next week?

In just a few days I’ll be heading to Dallas for CoNEXTions 2014 – the DHI annual conference.  As I mentioned before, I’ll be teaching COR140 – Using Codes and Standards Monday-Wednesday, and in late-breaking news, I’ll be teaching the CE1401 Codes and Standards Update on Friday (6/27) from 1:30-4:00 p.m.  CE1401 is an online […]

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Reader Photos

I’m in Dallas this week to teach DHI’s COR140 – Using Codes and Standards and then attend the DHI Conference – CoNEXTions 2014. It’s a crazy-busy week, so it may be a full week of reader photos. If you’ve been hoarding your awesome door photos, send them along!

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NYC Code Update

The New York City Department of Buildings has announced that New York City will be adopting a new construction code as of October 1st, 2014. Please forward this post to any of your colleagues who work on projects in NYC.

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WW: Duct Tape

I received this photo from Chuck Noble of Certified Fire Door, and it is the epitome of Wordless Wednesday…

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50 Articles!

Late in 2010 when this blog was about a year and a half old, the editor of Doors & Hardware asked if they could publish one of my blog posts in each issue as a monthly column…

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NFPA 101 on Fire Door Inspection

Last week I was asked whether the 2012 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code requires annual fire door inspections for health care facilities. As many of you know, the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will soon be using the 2012 edition of NFPA 101 when they survey health care facilities…

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FF: Rod Guards

Products installed as part of a fire door assembly must be listed or labeled for that purpose. Components that are not listed or labeled must not be attached to the fire door and may void the label. In two recent cases I have seen non-listed protective guards for hardware as well as blinds installed on fire doors…

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Gasketing on Stair Doors

If you read this paragraph in a vacuum, it seems like all fire doors have to limit the air infiltration to this level (in most cases this would require gasketing), but this paragraph falls under section 716.5.3 – Door assemblies in corridors and smoke barriers. There are two sections following 716.5.3 that apply to other types of fire doors…

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Doors in the News

Keith Brooks, Head of Prevention and Protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “This case is a perfect example of how important fire doors are when a fire breaks out both in the home and the workplace. They play a critical element in saving lives and property and should never be propped open…”

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Decoded Online Training

In a few weeks I will be teaching my Decoded online course again, this time on behalf of the Center for Campus Fire Safety. The Decoded course is a 4-class series on code requirements applicable to doors and hardware, and is based on the following codes and standards…

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WWYD? School Security

In addition to providing support and training on door-related code requirements, my job also includes participating in code development – helping to propose changes to the codes that affect our business, and reviewing proposals from others. There is currently research underway that may propose to add school security requirements to a national code…

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Stairwell Reentry – Revisited

Something recently caught me by surprise and I feel like I should bring it to light so that anyone who is specifying, supplying, or installing electrified hardware on stairwell doors would be aware of the potential issue…

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Decoded Quick-Tips: Fire Door Assemblies

In preparation for an upcoming class for access control professionals, I’m putting together some printable summaries of code tips on security-related topics. The first sheet I’m working on addresses requirements specific to fire door assemblies that would be important to an access control integrator or security consultant…

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Fatal Apartment Fire – Chicago, Illinois

According to news reports, it sounds like an open door or possibly two open doors, along with an illegally locked second exit and insufficient smoke detectors may have contributed to the deaths of 4 children in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood…

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Time-Sensitive Opportunities!

There are 3 educational opportunities coming up, but you have to act fast! An on-demand video of a fire door test – 1 week only! Access Control Training begins Thursday! The next online Decoded course begins tomorrow!

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Fire Doors in the News

Lots of fire doors in the news, in large part because of Fire Door Safety Week last week!

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Another Open Fire Door

A 42-unit apartment building was destroyed by fire last week in Columbus, Ohio. The fire began in a second-floor apartment, and the door to the apartment was left open when the resident evacuated. According to investigators, fire doors in the corridor and stairwell were also propped open, allowing the smoke and flames to spread and leaving the residents no safe escape route…

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WW: Hole in the Wall

It’s Wordless Wednesday again! When I was in Baltimore a few weeks ago, I was loitering around these pairs of fire doors leading from the exhibit hall to the service corridor…

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Electric Strikes on Fire Door Assemblies

Recently a question from a code official landed in my inbox – “Can an electric strike on a fire door be operated by a motion sensor?” For example, if a door was often used by people carrying boxes or other large items, could a sensor release the strike so the building occupants could just push on the door rather than turning the lever to exit?

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Decoded: Alterations to Fire Door Assemblies (December 2014)

This post was published in the December 2014 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] I frequently receive questions about alterations of existing fire door assemblies, including preparation for new hardware and addressing holes left by hardware that has been removed.  NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors […]

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Upcoming Webinars

Allegion is conducting a series of monthly webinars for access control integrators, which address code compliant access solutions for various applications. All webinars are held at 2 p.m. Eastern. Click here to register or to access recordings of past webinars in this series…

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FF: Fire Exit Hardware

I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked for help when a label from a listing laboratory has been removed by the painter/cleaner/installer/meddling kid from the door/frame/armor plate/fire exit hardware. Unfortunately, I’m not much help…I can’t send you a new label to stick on. That’s what makes these Fixed-it Friday photos so sad…

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Fire Champ

Personally, I would love to take a photo, fill in some information, and have it routed to the correct fire department. But there are challenges when considering an app like this for use on a wider scale…

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WW: Climb to Exit

Jerry Rice of DH Pace sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo. This behavior isn’t going to change until someone gets in trouble…

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WWYD? Stairwell Pressure

When you have a pressurized stairwell that is required for smoke control, the increased pressure in the stairwell makes doors swinging into the stair more difficult to open, and doors swinging out of the stair may not close and latch. WWYD?

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Video: Close the Door

Most of you know how important a door can be in preventing the spread of fire, but recent efforts are helping the general public understand the value of their doors and how to use them as a tool to save lives…

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Online Decoded Class 2

My next online Decoded class will be held on Wednesday, December 17th from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern. This is the second class in the series of 4 presented on behalf of the Door & Hardware Institute where I will cover the requirements for fire door assemblies, including…

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FF: Do Not Pull

Most magnetic holders provide 20-30 pounds of holding force, and can be released manually by pulling on the door to separate the door-mounted armature from the wall-mounted magnet. The signage here tells me that the magnet is probably not anchored to the wall properly, and I guess adding a sign is one way to fix the problem…

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WWYD: Fusible Link Arms

NFPA 80 does not prohibit their use but the International Building Code (IBC) requires automatic-closing doors in certain locations to be smoke-activated…automatic-closing by the actuation of smoke detectors…

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Decoded: Test Your Knowledge (January 2015)

You may have already noticed…I’ve been taking a little time off between the holidays, but here’s something to keep you busy until I’m back in action next Monday…

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School Security – How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program, by Paul Timm

Paul Timm: “…The riskiest options employed today rely on relatively inexpensive aftermarket products that cover strike plates, prop open locked doors, or prevent ingress from the hallway…”

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FF: Residential Corridors

The purpose of cross-corridor doors in this application would be to compartmentalize the building. The magnetic holders make it clear that the intention is for the doors to close if there is a fire alarm. This is obviously not going to happen if there are wood wedges in place…

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HMMA 850-14: Fire Protection and Smoke Control Rated Hollow Metal Door and Frame Products

The Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA) is a division of the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers (NAAMM), and publishes more than two dozen reference documents related to hollow metal doors and frames…

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Fire Door Win! (and a fail)

Reporter Quote: “The people who ran from the room where the fire began left the door open behind them, and the fire quickly spread into the hallway…” Fire Department Quote: “There’s a fire door that separates the two compartments of that wing, and it did its job…”

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Series on Historic Fires

There have been many fires throughout history that have shaped our current codes, and I recently ran across a series in the Enid (Oklahoma) News which includes several events that impacted the door and hardware industry specifically. As I’ve said before, I think we can learn a lot from the past…

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Another Fire Door Win

Although the news reports are focused on the recent loss of a historic school in Champlain, New York, a fire door between the original section and a 1960’s addition did help to prevent the spread of smoke and flames: ~~~ Here’s another news report about the fire: WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports- ~~~ […]

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Fire Doors: The First Line of Defense

This article was published in the January 2015 issue of Locksmith Ledger.  Fire doors are a vital part of a building’s passive fire protection system. When properly installed and maintained, they will help to compartmentalize a building to protect occupants and property from the spread of smoke, flames, and toxic gases, and aid in providing […]

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“Buyer Beware” – Paul Timm, RETA Security

Paul Timm: “For those pursuing alternative solutions, it is important to consider that some schools have installed after-market devices only to find out that code violations require their removal. Buyer beware!”

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New Products for Oversized Fire Door Clearances

Clearances in excess of those allowed by NFPA 80 are one of the most common problems with fire door assemblies, and can be very difficult to resolve. National Guard Products has just released two new UL Certified accessories for excessive fire door clearances…

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WWYD? Fire Door Closing Cycle

I was asked this question last week – when testing a swinging fire door to determine whether it closes and latches, what degree of opening is used? Do you open the door fully? Does the door have to close and latch from any position?

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Decoded: Electrified Hardware Refresher (April 2015)

There are 7 basic code categories for electrified hardware used to control access or egress, and this edition of Decoded provides a brief refresher on each as well as some recent code changes. Many of these code applications, but not all, fall into the category commonly called “special locking arrangements.”

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Close the Door Please, I’m Busy in Here – Kelly M. Byrne

What I like about the Rescue 2 Training post is that it gives the firefighter perspective on why a closed door can be so helpful during a fire. If every firefighter understood the value of fire doors (and other doors), imagine how much more attention the non-compliant doors would get…

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FF: Missed Opportunity

This Fixed-it Friday news report about replacing entrance doors in multi-family homes makes a few good points, but misses out on the chance to educate people about how their fire doors should operate.  I noticed a few things that weren’t 100% accurate or could have been more clear…like the statement that you don’t need fire […]

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Decoded: 2015 IBC Roundtable

If you are a member of the New England Chapter of DHI I hope you already know about this upcoming class, but in case you didn’t get the memo…I will be teaching a code class next week along with Jeff Batick, Greg DeGirolamo, Paul Goldense, and Jim White.  This class will be available for other […]

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Ohio decision will have nationwide impact

If you don’t think the Ohio barricade situation applies to you because you don’t live in Ohio, or because you don’t do school-related work, think again. Please read the article below. It is crucial for us to spread the word about a balanced approach to school security.

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Construction Concerns: Fire Doors

Two posts in one day! 🙂 I just read an article about fire doors in Fire Engineering, and thought y’all might like it…

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2015 Edition of the Allegion Code Reference Guide

As most of you know, the code development cycle is typically 3 years, which means that the codes are constantly evolving. The 2015 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code were recently released, and I have revised the Allegion Code Reference Guide to include these changes…

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WW: Fire Station Fire Door

I’ve been holding onto these photos for over a year, not knowing exactly how to address the issue of a propped-open fire door in a fire station, of all places. Then I saw a news report about a fire that occurred in a fire station while firefighters were sleeping…

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NASFM: Classroom Door Security and Locking Hardware

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has posted a document on their website which offers that support, by providing guidance on the use of classroom door security and locking hardware. The 6-page document includes a suggested classroom door checklist, with code references for each item on the list…

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Fire Label Mismatch

I recently received a question from Al Rivas at Contract Hardware, which had me stumped. Al pointed out a mismatch in the opening protective requirements of the International Building Code (IBC). In the 2012 and 2015 editions, Table 716.5 establishes the required rating of the opening protectives for various types of walls…

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FF: Fire Code Fines

This news report is a great Fixed-it Friday example of how the city of Barrie, Ontario is going to fix their fire code violations – by giving fire inspectors the ability to hand out tickets for violations on the spot.  The fine for propping open fire doors?  $350 each! Click the graphic to access the […]

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Decoded: Double-Egress Pairs in a Health Care Occupancy (June 2015)

There is an IBC exception regarding smoke barrier doors that has to be one of the most confusing and widely debated door-related sections in the code. In the 2015 edition, Section 709.5 Exception 1 exempts smoke barrier doors in some health care occupancies from the requirements that apply to smoke barriers in other locations…

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FF: Classroom Latch Preventer

These Fixed-it Friday photos depict one school’s method for providing classroom security. The outside lever is kept locked at all times, so closing the door is all that’s required to secure the classroom during an emergency. But having a classroom door locked all the time can be inconvenient – someone has to open the door each time a student or staff member wants to enter…

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This Week in Baltimore – Code Jeopardy!

Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m. and Thursday, 9:45 a.m.-12:20 p.m. I’ll be in Room 337 teaching Code Jeopardy! Each session is 45 minutes long and there are 2 different sessions with completely different questions…

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Fire and Egress Doors in the News

A fire door is being credited with keeping flames contained at a Sturgis manufacturing building…Three people were found unconscious in a stairwell filled with smoke…As Fire Chief Drake put it, the simple act of closing the door can save the lives and contents behind it…

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Who wants a (FREE) code book??

The time has finally come for me to clear out my office in preparation for 3 new specwriter apprentices to join the New England SSC.  I have been working from my home office for years and will be temporarily relocating (more on that later), so today is the day I clean house. One thing I’ve […]

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FF: Latch Preventer

Today’s Fixed-it Friday photo came from Paul Cernak of Allegion. It’s another creatively-ingenious lockdown method that is not code-compliant. The white block is attached to the frame with a magnet. The outside lever of the active leaf is kept in the locked position, and the block prevents the door from closing completely…

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Anatomy of a Fire Door

Openings in fire-resistance-rated partitions are protected by fire door assemblies – also called opening protectives, an assembly of products which have been tested and listed for this purpose. These products may come from various manufacturers and can be listed by different test laboratories, but they work together as an important part of a building’s passive fire protection system…

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Middle School Fire Contained by Closed Door

A malfunctioning power strip is getting most of the media attention for causing this fire, but Fox 13 reported that “a closed door kept the fire from spreading beyond the guidance counselors’ offices, and therefore it did not reach any classrooms.”

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WW: Miracles (or Closed Doors?)

I have to admit, these are pretty miraculous rescues…whether it was “divine intervention,” the heroic efforts of firefighters, or the closed doors (and walls) that helped to keep the victims safe. A different type of Wordless Wednesday post for this week…

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Decoded: Patient Room Doors in Health Care Occupancies (August 2015)

The recent nursing home fire in central China which killed 38 elderly residents is a deadly reminder of the responsibility of these facilities to keep their residents safe. While the code requirements for health care facilities and nursing homes go far beyond the doors, frames, and hardware, there are some important considerations for door openings…

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Why We Don’t Have to Destroy the Fire Code to Save Lockdown, Lt. Joseph Hendry

You may remember a guest blog post from Lieutenant Joseph Hendry, who is with the Kent State University Police Department and the ALICE Training Institute. Lt. Hendry has an article in this month’s Campus Safety Journal, on the challenges created by using barricade devices for classroom lockdown. Here’s my favorite part…

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Non-Code-Compliant Ingenuity

How do we help to ensure that these creative problem-solvers have the necessary information when considering a do-it-yourself approach?

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FDNY and FDAI

We just got back from NYC, where we were invited to visit the FDNY fire station for Engine 320 and Ladder 167 by the developer of the Cease Fire hinge, which I wrote about last fall. The kids are working on a project to help reduce deaths in home fires, so it was a privilege to visit the station and get all of their questions answered…

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Options for Securing Classroom Doors (video)

Here’s the latest in our series of whiteboard animation videos explaining door-related topics. This one covers various options for securing classroom doors, in alignment with the guidelines from the National Association of State Fire Marshals. Enjoy and share!

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WWYD? Mortise to Cylindrical Conversion

I’ve had many requests for help lately with regard to converting an existing fire door with a mortise lock to a cylindrical lock. There are several concerns here…

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Fire Wall and Fire Door Win!

Anchor Lumber opens quickly after fire thanks to firewall – WQAD 8

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FF: Double-Egress Pairs

You may have to look at these for a few minutes to get the gist of what’s happening. These are double-egress pairs in a hotel I stayed in recently. Instead of using a double-egress frame so the doors were in the same plane, each door was mounted on the opposite side of a double-rabbet frame…

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Anatomy of a Fire Door (video)

One of my original goals when I started this blog in 2009, was to make learning about codes less painful. I think these whiteboard animation videos do just that! Here’s the latest…all about fire door assemblies!

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Decoded: Fire Door Closing Cycle (September 2015)

It has been 8 years since the annual fire door assembly inspection requirements were added to the 2007 edition of NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. Six years ago, the 2009 model codes referenced the 2007 edition of NFPA 80, making the inspections required by code in jurisdictions where those codes were adopted…

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WWYD? Removable Mullion on a Fire Door Assembly

Sometimes a question crosses my desk that surprises me – it seems like after 6+ years of writing about doors and hardware every day I would have heard them all, but this was a first. I was asked to find out where in the codes it states that a removable mullion is acceptable to use on a fire door assembly…

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WW: $84K OSHA Fine Proposed

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo came from the New York Daily News. The full article about the high-end furniture store being cited by OSHA for blocked egress routes and propped open fire doors can be read here…

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Fire Door Safety Week

It’s Fire Door Safety Week in the UK, and I can’t help but wonder why the US is so far behind in educating the public about the value of fire doors. It’s a shame, really.

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Field Labeling of Fire Doors and Frames

With increased enforcement of the fire door assembly inspection requirements, deficiencies will no longer be ignored. When an AHJ sees non-labeled doors or frames in a location where a fire door assembly is required, it may be an indicator of other problems with the opening protective. In the past, there were limited options…

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Fatality Related to Roof Door

A 91-year-old man with dementia has died after wandering onto the roof of the housing authority apartment building where he lived in Batavia, New York. News reports are citing an unlocked door leading to the roof – it may have locked after the man passed through it…

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WW: Fire Door – Please Keep Closed

There are some of my favorite Wordless Wednesday photos ever.  They’re simple, yet complex in their irony.  Found in a state office building and sent to me by John Gant from Allegion.

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Fire Door Inspection Cards

A few months ago I posted some images of a new educational piece on fire door inspections. When I was in Carmel last month I saw one in person, and I think they’re great! They’re hard laminated cards – about 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. We have some in stock…

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Close the Door

I’ve been talking about this for years with regard to fire doors as well as doors in a home, but it’s nice to have someone from UL back me up…

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Closed Door Follow-Up

On Tuesday I posted some news reports about the effects of a closed door during a fire. NBC-5 has released a follow-up story on the fact that national fire safety organizations have not been including the message to sleep with your bedroom door closed in their educational materials…

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Decoded: Smoke Door Requirements of the 2015 International Building Code (January 2016)

Several of you have asked me to update the article on smoke doors that I wrote several years ago. I have looked at this until my vision is blurry, so if anyone is willing to review it for errors I’ll offer a bounty for any mistakes found…

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Landlord Jailed for Door Failure

Jay Liptrot is a Wales landlord, and ironically – a firefighter, who failed to install a fire door assembly to protect an apartment where 2 adults and 3 children died in a tragic act of arson. Although he was originally charged with manslaughter, his charge was reduced and he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison…

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‘Borderline national crisis’ in fire safety, says BWF-CERTIFIRE chairman

This press release is from UK-based BWF Certifire, but the US faces the same fire door problems that are endangering building occupants every day. Kudos to BWF Certifire for raising awareness of the value of fire doors…we NEED a similar program in the US, but who is willing to take it on? Scroll down for an informative video produced by the British Woodworking Foundation…

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Q&A – Do pairs of fire doors require astragals?

NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors & Other Opening Protectives no longer includes a prescriptive requirement for certain pairs of fire doors to have astragals. In the 1999 edition of this standard (and prior editions), an overlapping astragal was required for pairs of doors rated for more than 1 1/2 hours. In the 2007 edition, the requirement for an overlapping astragal was removed, and the use of the astragal is dependent on the manufacturer’s listing procedures…

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Decoded: Communicating Doors Between Sleeping Rooms (February 2016)

A door opening between two adjoining hotel rooms is called a communicating door, and is created by installing two doors within one frame – each swinging in the opposite direction. The purpose of these doors is to allow convenience for family or friends sharing two hotel rooms, but the doors also provide security between the two rooms when occupied by separate parties…

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School Fire in Bethel, Alaska

Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them…a fire in their home, school, or workplace. But according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 5,690 structure fires in educational properties between 2007 and 2011. I’ve written many times about how important it is…

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WW: Pyrotechnics

As most of you can probably guess, the safety standards here in Mexico are a little different from the US. I have to admit that I was still caught by surprise when I attended a kids’ dance performance (in a crowded theater with no sprinklers) that ended with this…

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Decoded: Fire-Protection-Rated vs. Fire-Resistance-Rated Assemblies (March 2016)

Where can we continue to install fire-protection-rated openings (NFPA 252 or UL10C) and where do we need to install fire-resistance-rated openings (ASTM E119 or UL 263)? One clue can be found in NFPA 80. In the 2013 edition, Paragraph 6.3.3.3 states that transom frames and sidelight frames are permitted when a fire-protection rating of 3/4-hour or less is required…

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Intro to Codes (video)

We’ve been working on a new series of whiteboard animation videos…here is one of my favorites!

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FF: Tea Time

I think if I passed this Fixed-it Friday door while visiting this memory care unit my mind would have gone right to the NFPA 101 section that addresses exits disguised by murals in certain types of health care units. Maybe I wouldn’t have focused on the actual artwork, but as Gail Erickson of Allegion pointed out when she sent the photo (“I wonder how many times the alarm goes off when they go to get a cup of tea?”), what is depicted in the mural could affect how well the disguise works…

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NFPA 80 – 2016…Sneak Peek!

I’ve been working on updating my code reference guide – adding new information from the 2016 edition of NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. There are quite a few changes to NFPA 80, and although this edition of the standard won’t be used in most jurisdictions until the 2018 model codes are adopted, some of the changes may help to clarify the requirements of previous editions…

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WW: Abuse and Neglect

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo was sent by Nolan Thrope of Allegion…this is a cross-corridor fire door in a school. The closer is missing as well as the obvious hinge problem. Sadly, this type of neglect is not uncommon. 🙁

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Close the Door on Fire

After yesterday’s discussion in the comments about the lack of feasibility of annual fire door inspections, I think it’s time for a reminder of how much protection a closed door can be during a fire. While inspecting all of the existing fire doors may seem like an insurmountable task…

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WWYD? Existing Fire Door – New Access Control

This question comes up quite often, so I hope some of you have insight to share. In the words of my old friend Waller Elliott, “Picture this: You have an existing stairwell door (single), with a 90-minute fire rating…”

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FF: Day Care Stair

This Fixed-it Friday photo could easily cross over into Wordless Wednesday territory…a fire-rated stairwell door in a day care center, where the installer obviously had an accident that he didn’t think was important enough to address…

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Close the Door: why it could save your life in a fire

Now THIS is the type of video that should go viral – this simple act will save lives. Share this with the people you care about!

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WWYD? Vision Lights in Wood Fire Doors

My question for you is this…if you supply, specify, or install wood fire doors, is the glazing typically installed in accordance with NFPA 80 – at the factory or in an authorized wood shop?

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Decoded 2 – Fire Door Assemblies

The first 2 Decoded classes are now available on-demand! Class 1 is Intro to Codes & Accessibility, and Class 2 is on Fire Door Assemblies. They’re free!

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WW: Fire Door Inspection

John Lozano of Allegion sent me these photos from a recent class on fire door inspection. What problems do you see on this pair of fire doors in a health care facility?

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Stairwell Reentry

Most stairwells in commercial and institutional buildings are designed to protect the means of egress using fire-resistant construction and fire door assemblies as opening protectives. When building occupants are within a stair enclosure during a fire…

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FF: Duct Tape Again

While I was at the BHMA meeting this week, my dinner companions pulled out their phones to compare photos of bad hardware and code problems (yes, this is the fun stuff we do at these meetings). Tim Weller of Allegion had these Fixed-it Friday photos…

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Fire Door Clearance / Continuous Hinge

Two paragraphs were added in the 2013 edition of NFPA 80 to address continuous hinges used on fire doors. I’ve seen these sections many times and never noticed a potential problem, until it came up twice in the last couple of weeks…

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WWYD? Old Fire Doors

When an old fire door needs to be modified, what precautions are taken to ensure that the door does not contain hazardous material?

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Banned: Classroom Barricade Locks

In this age of classroom shootings, many are looking for barricade locks – a cheap and easy stopgap to bolster door security…

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Decoded: Alternative Methods and Equivalency (June 2016)

I’m on vacation this week and I could really use your help. This is my next Decoded article…if you’re willing to check it out and leave any comments below, I could submit it to the editor and try to enjoy a little time off. Please help! 🙂

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WWYD? Double-Egress Pairs

Here’s a question for all of the distributors, fire door inspectors, AHJs, CDCs, and anyone else out there who has an opinion. When you’re calculating the “prefit” door widths for a double-egress pair…

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FF: Broken Arm

This closer repair obviously qualifies as a Fixed-it Friday photo, but it also left me Wordless. Thanks to Jim Lenox of Allegion.

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Applied Panels

When panels or trim (AKA plant-ons) are applied to fire doors, manufacturers have specific limitations on size, material, and means of attachment. I just finished teaching 6 sessions of Code Jeopardy…

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WW: Kick-Down Stops

Nathan Burkhardt of Opening Technologies sent me this Wordless Wednesday photo of the kick-down stops (holders) they removed from the fire doors on one of their projects. Wow.

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Decoded: Changes to the Life Safety Code for Health Care Occupancies (July 2016)

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an interesting conversation happening on my post from earlier in the week about classroom barricade devices. If you have something informative to add in response to the manufacturers of these products…

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NFPA 101 – A few more changes…

Last week I posted my next Decoded article – about changes affecting door openings between the 2000 edition of NFPA 101 and the 2012 edition. Paul Dzurinda of Russell Phillips & Associates sent me a few more changes that we should be aware of…

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WWYD? Fire Door Inspections

Will fire door inspections be enforced for health care facilities? NFPA 101-2012 clearly requires them, but it seems that more proof was needed…

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WWYD? Concealed Closer for Heavy Door

This is a real-life problem on a current project and I know someone out there has a good answer. Here is a description of the doors…

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Repairing Holes and Dents in Fire Doors

A very common repair includes installing steel fasteners in unused holes, grinding off the fastener heads, and concealing the repair with Bondo, but this is not specifically mentioned in NFPA 80…

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New CMS Final Fire Safety Regulations – Ober|Kaler Health Law Group

This article about the updated CMS fire safety regulations crossed my desk over the weekend, and it contains a lot of information about how these changes will affect health care facilities…

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Fire Fight – ProPublica

For the last year or more, our industry has been dealing with legislation overriding the code development process in several states, with regard to classroom security…

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Fire Door – Time to Close

How quickly should a fire 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?

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FF: Dutch Door Modification

This Wordless Wednesday photo from Paul Shaaf and Kevin Lach of Twin City Hardware is a first for me. And after 7+ years of writing this blog, I don’t say that very often. Enjoy.

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Fire Door Win!

Kudos to the fire department, but the fire doors got some recognition too! From KCRA News…

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Fire Door Hardware vs. Builders Hardware

I’ve been asked several times – what is the difference between a swinging door with builders hardware (addressed in Chapter 6 of NFPA 80) and a swinging door with fire door hardware (covered in Chapter 7)?

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Decoded: NFPA 80 Requirements for Hinges (September 2016)

With the continued focus on fire door assemblies, it’s important to be familiar with the basic requirements as well as what has changed in the more recent codes and standards. This article focuses on hinge requirements for fire doors…

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BUILDINGS BUZZ – Voices from the Industry

I currently have an article on BUILDINGS BUZZ…the blog for BUILDINGS, a magazine for commercial building owners and facilities management professionals. The article covers some of the code changes…

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Fire Exit Hardware – Under Fire

I received a question recently about testing of fire exit hardware – when panic hardware is tested for use on fire doors, is it mounted on the fire side (facing the furnace) or the non-fire-side of the door?

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WW: Trouble in Texarkana

I am writing this blog post from a hotel in Texarkana, Arkansas, where I saw the Wordless Wednesday door in the photos below. I hope that by the time you read this post I will be back on the road. Fingers crossed!

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Garage Fire Door

These photos from the Glassboro Fire Department are a terrific reminder of the value of fire doors. Although most doors in single-family homes are not required to be fire-rated, the International Residential Code does require protection between the garage and the home…

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Construction Specifier: Battling the Barricade

In the wake of any tragedy, society struggles collectively to process the loss. For some it is the loss of friends and loved ones, but for most it is our feelings of safety and trust in the overall goodness of our fellow man that are diminished or seemingly lost entirely. In their place, we are filled with an overwhelming desire to do something…

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WWYD? Clearance vs. Undercut

Last week I got a call about a problem that led me to do some research on the difference between the clearance and the undercut on a fire door. On the project in question, the fire doors were supplied with a 5/8-inch undercut…

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Decoded: Dwelling Unit & Sleeping Unit Entrance Doors (November 2016)

According to the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, most doors in a means of egress are required to unlatch with one releasing operation. One exception to this rule is when a door leads to a residential dwelling unit or sleeping unit…

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WWYD? Manual Flush Bolts on Fire-Rated Pairs

Manual flush bolts on pairs of fire doors leading to rooms not normally occupied by humans? WWYD?

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QQ: Fire Door Frames with Existing Wall Anchors

“When I’m installing a fire-rated frame into an existing opening using existing wall anchors, how much space can I have around the frame, and what is permissible to use to seal that gap?”

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School/College Planning & Management

What should a school consider before purchasing classroom barricade devices, also known as temporary door locking devices?

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FF: NOT Fire Door

Today’s Fixed-it Friday post includes a serious question for all of you to ponder. I’ll get to it in a minute. First…I received the photos below from a code official…

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Fire Door Label Mismatch

Several of the comments on Friday’s post mentioned this section of NFPA 101, as a reason that labeled doors must be maintained as fire door assemblies (even if not required) or that the labels must be removed…

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FDAI in the News

I have several Google News alerts set, so every day I receive a few emails with lists of articles that might be interesting to the readers of iDigHardware. There was one on today’s list about fire door inspection…

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QQ: Does every component of a fire door assembly have to be listed/labeled?

At least once a week someone asks me whether each and every component of a fire door assembly has to be listed or labeled…

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Dormitory Tragedy – Ankara, Turkey

Last week I was contacted by an architect from Istanbul, about a recent fire that occurred in a girls’ dormitory there. There were 12 fatalities…

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FF: Stairs

I am often asked to provide “proof” that this type of repair is unacceptable. Often the most direct route to find that evidence is to ask…

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Holiday Door Decorating

Now, before you call me Scroogette, I do love doors and holiday decorating, and I can understand the appeal. BUT, there are a few rules to keep in mind…

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QQ: Can I remove the hardware from a fire door and permanently close it?

Yesterday I received a question from an AHJ, about a condominium complex. Each condo has a fire door as the main entrance…

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FF: Storage Room Pair

I wish I had a nickel for every storage room door like this one I’ve seen. The flush bolts end up breaking through (as evidenced by the lovely repair to the bottom bolt area), and in this case the strike is gone too…

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Fire Doors in the News

Happy New Year! There was lots of door-related news over the holidays…

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Open Fire Door = Insurance Won’t Pay?

If insurance companies stop paying claims because of fire door assemblies that are not properly maintained, or because a fire door was not closed and latched when the fire occurred, fire doors are going to start getting a lot more attention…

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Decoded: Requirements for Door-Related Signage (February 2017)

Here’s my next Decoded article…I had to do some research on this topic since it’s not one that I typically address, so let me know if I missed anything!

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Architects’ Journal: Form Studio completes reworking of ‘cookie cutter’ nineties flat

Looking at the photos that accompany the article, the closing device is mounted in the door edge. Has anyone used this type of product?

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WW: Delayed Egress Mag-Lock

With the recent adoption of NFPA 101-2012 by CMS, the annual inspection of fire door assemblies has become a top priority for many health care facilities…

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FF: Fire Door Signage

If you read my recent article on code requirements pertaining to signage, you’ll be able to identify the problem with this creative Fixed-it Friday signage on a fire door assembly…

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QQ: What is the minimum GWB penetration for a fire-rated frame?

This question has come up a few times lately…many of us have been taught that sheetrock/drywall/wallboard has to penetrate at least 1/2 inch behind the returns on a fire-rated frame, but where is that stated?

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Fire Door Inspection Training

I get calls every week about training on fire door inspections – how and where to learn more. I just read that NFPA and DSSF are teaming up to provide 1-day training sessions…

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WWYD? Too-high vision lights – frosted glass?

Some new fire doors were ordered and manufactured with 5-inch x 20-inch vision lights located with the bottom of the light about about 46 inches from the bottom of the door…

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DHI – Safely Securing the Built Environment through Building, Fire, and Life Safety Codes (video)

This is a good introductory video from the Door & Hardware Institute on how codes impact our industry. For additional training on codes…

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Arson at Westlake Apartments

This fire was also mentioned in a report called Selected Published Incidents Involving Fire Doors, which was compiled for me by NFPA’s One Stop Data Shop back in 2009…

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See the index for another category:

  • Accessibility
  • Adon Brownell
  • Automatic Operators
  • Back-2-Basics
  • Beautiful Doors
  • Close the Door
  • Code Development
  • Construction Specifier
  • DHI
  • Digging Into Codes
  • Door Closers
  • Doors & Frames
  • Doors Gone Wrong
  • Egress
  • Electrified Hardware
  • Everywhere I Go
  • FDAI
  • Fire Doors
  • Fixed-it Friday
  • Flush Bolts and Coordinators
  • Funky Applications
  • Gasketing & Thresholds
  • Gates
  • General Info
  • Glass
  • Guest Post
  • Health Care
  • Hinges & Pivots
  • Historical
  • Hold-Opens
  • Industry Profiles
  • LEED/Green
  • Life Safety Digest
  • Locks & Keys
  • Locksmith Ledger
  • Mexico Update
  • My Photos
  • New England Codes
  • News
  • Opinion
  • OTU
  • Panic Hardware
  • Protection Plates
  • Push/Pull
  • Q&A
  • Quick Question
  • Quick-Tips
  • Reader Photos
  • Road Trips
  • School Security
  • Signage
  • Sliding and Folding Doors
  • Smoke
  • Stops
  • Uncategorized
  • Urban Exploration
  • Videos
  • WHY?
  • Windstorm
  • Wordless Wednesday
  • WWYD?