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 used in the U.S. that have anything to say about fire doors. You’d think that because of the close relationship between fire doors and smoke doors (some fire doors ARE smoke doors, after all) that NFPA 80 would have something to say about smoke. As it turns out, not much.
Chapter 1 says that NFPA 80 regulates and sets the national standards for assemblies used to protect openings against the spread of fire and smoke. Chapter 2 lists NFPA 105 as one of the standards referenced by NFPA 80. Annex D mentions that the primary purpose for 20- and 30-minute rated doors is for use when smoke control is a primary consideration, and Annex A mentions “smoke” in two paragraphs:
“A.3.3.7 Automatic-Closing Door. It is recognized that closed fire doors protect openings against the spread of fire and smoke. Automatic-closing doors normally are open, and while they are very reliable, there is always the possibility that they will not close when required due to blockage, maintenance problems, or other unforeseen difficulties. Therefore, it is desirable that when buildings are unoccupied, these doors are closed.”
“A.9.3 Where door assemblies are used for smoke or draft control, gasketing or reduced clearances might be necessary. (See NFPA 105, Standard for the Installation of Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives.)”
So NFPA 80 isn’t the place to find detailed information about smoke doors – go straight to NFPA 105 for that. But this is a good time to explain some terminology that is mentioned in both NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 – self-closing doors vs. automatic-closing doors. Here’s how NFPA 80 defines those terms:
“3.3.101 Self-Closing Doors. Doors that, when opened and released, return to the closed position.”
“3.3.7* Automatic-Closing Door. A door that normally is open but that closes when the automatic-closing device is activated.”
So a self-closing door is typically a door with a door closer or spring hinges, which closes each time it is opened. An automatic closing door has a hold-open device, which releases and allows the door to close. Although NFPA 80 defines an automatic-closing device as “a device that causes the door or window to close when activated by a fusible link or detector,” most of the building codes and fire/life safety codes require an automatic-closing device to release upon smoke detection rather than by the release of a fusible link. More on that as I get into what those codes have to say about smoke.