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 the buildings fire protection system.”
~ Chip Carson, NFPA Journal – 02/08
There have been 682 survey responses to this question to date, and the overwhelming majority of respondents knew that the purpose of a fire door is to hinder the spread of smoke and fire and to allow building occupants time to exit safely. Without properly installed and maintained fire door assemblies (including the the door, frame, hardware, glazing, and seals), the smoke and flames could spread throughout a building unchecked. The means of egress would be compromised in a very short period of time.
The security camera video below is from a recent fire at the OJ DeJonge Junior High School in Ludington, Michigan. Fortunately, it was a minor fire which occurred after most of the children had gone home and there were no injuries, but it’s a great illustration of the purpose of fire doors.
The fire was in a laundry room, and the video clearly illustrates how the closed laundry room door contained the smoke until the custodian opened it. About 30 seconds into the video, the cross-corridor doors close and compartmentalize the area, protecting the rest of the school and its occupants. The cross-corridor doors were held open with electronic hold-open devices, which release upon fire alarm and allow the doors to close. If the doors were held open with wood wedges (as MANY cross-corridor fire doors are), they would not have been able to close and provide protection against the spread of smoke and flames.
Here’s another video of a fire alarm system test where the doors close about 15 seconds into the video and separate the lobby from the rest of the school.