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Dec 01 2009

FDAI in Specifications

Category: FDAI,Fire DoorsLori @ 11:51 pm Comments (7)

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 becomes applicable to buildings which must comply with the newly-adopted code.  In many states, new buildings and renovations built under that code will be the first to require annual inspections.

Last year, I discussed adding the requirement to specifications with a group of about 100 architects who were attending a class I was teaching.  The general consensus was that an inspection within the first year was a great benefit for the building owner, as any deficiencies would be repaired under warranty.  There was no consensus, however, as to where the inspection requirement should be placed within the specification, and what the language should be.

I called upon the most knowledgeable specification writer that I know, Mark Kalin of Kalin Associates, to get an expert opinion on the matter.  Mark was kind enough to send me the following paragraphs to insert into the Door Hardware section of the spec:

Fire Door Assembly Inspections: Include the following language in the door hardware specifications for projects designed to comply with IBC 2009, or jurisdictions which require compliance with NFPA 80 – 2007:

Section 087100 – Door Hardware, Part 1 – General, insert in Paragraph: Submittals:

Fire Door Assembly Inspection and Testing: Submit a written report of the results of functional testing and inspection for fire doors, in compliance with NFPA 80-2007 requirements.

Section 087100 – Door Hardware, Part 3 – Execution, insert in Paragraph: Field Inspections:

Fire Door Assembly Inspection and Testing: Provide functional testing and inspection of fire doors in accordance with NFPA 80-2007. Inspections shall be performed by individuals certified by Intertek as a Fire Door Assembly Inspector using reporting forms provided by the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI). Alternatively, inspections may be performed by individuals acceptable to the Architect, who have knowledge and understanding of the operating components of the applicable door type, and who have experience in preparing written reports of testing and inspection results.

1. Schedule inspections to allow sufficient time to make repairs, correct defects and reinspect prior to Substantial Completion of the Project.

2. Reinspect doors after repairs are made until satisfactory results are obtained.

3. Submit a signed, written final report as specified in Paragraph: Submittals.

I’d love to know whether you’re seeing the inspection requirement in specifications in your area, or whether you have feedback on the language above.  Click here and scroll down if you’d like to leave a comment.

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7 Responses to “FDAI in Specifications”

  1. Bob Caron says:

    With this as part of a hardware spec., who is responsible for the cost of the inspection and repair if needed? As a supplier, we provide materials that when installed correctly will pass an inspection. If an assenmbly fails inspection due to installation problems, will the contractor cover the cost even if it requires replacement of materials that were altered during the installation?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Bob –

      There are a lot of questions and kinks that will get worked out with time and experience. In my opinion, with this language in the specification, the contractor will be looking for the hardware supplier’s price to include the inspection. If something needs to be repaired because the hardware installer modified it, I don’t see how the hardware supplier could be held responsible for that if they did not install the hardware.

      Some other questions/concerns that I’ve been thinking about are:
      1) If the project requires multiple reinspections due to poor installation (by an installer who is not employed by the hardware supplier), the hardware supplier’s cost for the inspection could multiply, through no fault of their own. Perhaps the bid should be qualified to include the initial inspection and 1 reinspection?
      2) For hardware suppliers who do their own installation and also employ a fire door inspector, conflicts could be created by the inspector inspecting the work of their own installers.
      3) The timing of the inspection between the time that the fire doors, frames, and hardware are completely installed and Substantial Completion can be very tight and I can see that being an issue, especially if coordinating the inspection is left until the last minute.

      I am meeting with all of the local Certified Fire Door Assembly Inspectors tomorrow, and the spec language is on our agenda. I’ll have more to report after our meeting.

      – Lori

  2. Bob Caron says:

    I’m not too sure I like the idea of having this in a building spec where the cost and implementation is to be put upon the contractor or supplier. It should be included in the architect’s design fees. This will eliminate any conflict of interest and make the bidding process more fair.
    It reminds me of when positive pressure requirements first started showing up and the Green Building/LEED stuff now. The people that understood the language of the spec and the costs invloved, carried that in their bids and those who missed the wording, sometimes won the contract over you. Sometimes it cost them to provide what was required and sometimes they got away with it. It’s no fun to lose a job when you’re playing by the rules.

  3. Mark Lineberger says:

    Contractors are used to having to pay for inspection services, so this should not be an issue. They simply need to include it. The problem is that this is something “new” that they have not been required to include in the past which surprises them even though NFPA 80 has required undocumented inspection for years. Doors, frames, and hardware are not often viewed as being an important life safety building compnent that requries skilled installation resulting in a “close enough” mentality. Poor installations cannot be properly maintained.

    The contractor would be responsible for corrective action on any items that failed an inspection, regardless of cost. They might try to get other subs/suppliers to pay for the corrective work/materials, but if installation was the issue causing the problem the supplier should not bear any cost burden. In fact, when you get the call “…your stuff doesn’t work…” hand them a bill after you determine – and they agree – that the issue was installation and not product related. I know my time is worth something, especially when I get that kind of call!

    I don’t like Part 3, item 2 because it is very subjective. What is satisfactory and who makes that judgement? What if the repair is judged to be “satisfactory” but the AHJ doing the final CO inspection fails an opening? As you well know getting openings to comply with NFPA 80 requirements once the building is nearing completion can easily turn into a nightmare with a marginal frame installation. Call me picky, but referencing only “doors” and not the door assembly would give a wiggly installer or contractor some room to wiggle. Especially when the frame causes the problems. Just food for thought…

    Would be interested in knowing what the results of your meeting are. I have one client interested in trying to get this included in future projects for their facility. Just started a pre-JC inspection today (unexpectedly!) and want to discuss how to help them include language in their specifications to keep future work from having the problems I have seen so far. Posting that would be great.


  4. Hal Kelton says:

    Hi everyone,

    Mr. Kalin you’re a brave man to be the first one to put out a sample specification for GCs and Door & Hardware sharks to critique. Like you I am going to offer some suggested additions to what I can only assume would be a complete swinging fire door specification. My approach is that these inspections should be treated in the exact same manner as our specialty product specifications handle it today. Quality assurances and field verification of the proper installation of specialty products like STC, Blast, and RF openings are commonplace.

    The owner of the building pays for everything. When we as GCs, material suppliers and installers forget, or fail to cover specification items we make less money but the building owner is still paying the bill. The new building owner also has the most to gain by adding this to their specifications. A 100% compliant swinging fire door inspection report ensures them that they are getting what they’ve paid for and that they’ve limited their overall liability by meeting the regulatory requirements of the community and state.

    There’s no doubt that much more attention to detail and trade coordination will need to paid to fire and egress doors as a result of the adoption and enforcement of this new standard. As Mr. Lineberger suggested this is long overdue.

    With all of that said, here are some suggestions I have for added verbiage to a good specification.

    Hal Kelton

    PART I [suggestions]

    A. Warnock Hersey WH/Intertek – Certified Fire & Egress Door Inspector Program
    B. Door and Hardware Institute DHI – Fire Door Assembly Inspections Educational Program (FDAI)
    C. Door and Hardware Institute DHI – Reference Guide for Inspecting Swinging Fire Doors With Builders Hardware.

    A. Fire Door Inspectors Qualifications
    1. Fire Door Inspector should be certified by at least one of the fire testing agencies referenced to label products within this section. A copy of their license, including the number and expiration date is required with all reports.
    2. Inspector shall have extensive knowledge and understanding of the operating components of the type of door being inspected.

    PART III [suggestions]


    A. Engage and pay for a certified fire door inspector to:
    1. Visually inspect completed installation of all fire door and frame assemblies for any damaged or missing parts and verify each component is correctly installed. Confirm that no field modifications to the door assembly have been performed that would void the label.
    2. Test that the self-closing device is operational, that is, the active door completely closes when operated from the full open position.
    3. Test that door coordinators allow the inactive leaf to close before the active leaf.
    4. Test and ensure that all latching hardware operates and secures the door when in its locked position.
    5. Test and verify that automatic –closing doors will close under fire conditions. Assembly should reset after successful test. Resetting of the release device shall be in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
    6. Direct installer in adjusting components for correct operation.
    7. Issue a certified report, documenting compliance of installed fire door and frame assemblies to the architect as per approved contract documents. This report shall include; all door numbers, types, fire ratings, their locations and summary of all non-compliant issues, as well as a recommended course of actions.
    8. Notify architect a minimum of four (4) calendar days prior to scheduled testing dates.

  5. Paul Baillargeon says:

    Just a question regarding the alternate that states the inspections may be performed by individuals acceptable to the Architect stated in Part 3. I believe it should read as individuals acceptable to the AHJ, and not the architect.


  6. Kimberly Salvo-Conlon says:

    I am encouraged to see so much dialog on this issue. I agree that it is important to have this requirement incorporated into the specs on a project and there are many valid points lsited above.

    I agree when listed in the Spec a budgetary number should be carried for the initial inspection and 1 follow-up to verify compliance has been met. A recommendation would be to list this as a seperate line item in your bid.

    I would recommend that the language regarding timing of the inspection should fall within the first year of occupancy for the new owner. Trying to schedule & repair poor installation prior to Substantial Completion would be in many cases impossible as the doors & hardware are one of the last things installed; often days before.

    On this issue of language regarding qualifications of inspectors: while I feel the inspectors need to be qualified, the specification can not read differently then the code. If the codes language does not require “only certified inspectors” I don’t see how that can be part of the spec. This has been a point of quite a bid of conversation at our meetings.

    This is obviously a work in progress and a very important one since it deals with Life Safety issues.

    I look forward to more discussion on this.


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