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 to help  with his situation so I thought I’d see what you all could come up with.  I have had many cases in the past where an architect wanted to do something that seemed impossible or at least implausible, and I have sometimes seen AHJs allow applications that might not have been addressed by the code, but met the intent and were acceptable to them.  For fire doors, there’s a section in NFPA 80 that addresses the use of new products that meet the intent of the standard:

NFPA 80-2007, 1.4 Equivalency.

1.4.1* This standard shall not prohibit the development of new, modified, or improved devices that meet the intent of these requirements.

1.4.2 It shall be the responsibility of the manufacturer to furnish the information necessary to update the requirements pertaining to such new and improved devices.

1.4.3 For devices not described in this standard, theAHJ shall request descriptive information from manufacturers that is provided by a testing laboratory concerning acceptable methods for satisfactory field installation based on fire tests and engineering studies for operation and maintenance considerations, where applicable.

From Annex A:

A.1.4.1 The development of fire doors and related devices is a continuous process; therefore, this standard is not always current. This standard is intended to be current only at the date of publication.

So here’s Nabil’s dilemma…

The doors are supposed to be 90-minute rated.  The facility needs a 12′ wide opening to move equipment through approximately once per day.    It is also a required means of egress, and the width of egress doors is limited to 48″ wide per leaf.  The doors are 9′-6″ high, hollow metal.  Some are double-egress and some are standard pairs.

One idea that was suggested was to have a center pair hinged to doors that are fixed in place with constant-latching flush bolts until the 12′ width was needed.  There are obvious issues with this – I’m sure the application hasn’t been tested, there’s no stop at the hinge edge to help prevent smoke infiltration, and then there’s the question of how to make the center pair automatic-closing.

So, what would you suggest to the architect to allow for a 12′ clear width on occasion, meet the egress requirements the rest of the time, and meet the intent of NFPA 80 as much as possible?  I’m all ears.

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