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May 30 2013

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Category: Egress,Fire Doors,NewsLori @ 2:51 pm Comments (8)

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 door closures – WALB News

Albany Firefighters want business owners to remember they are required to have automatic door closure devices on their outside doors for fire safety.

Look at how those flames are roaring into that window. That is the air being pulled inside and feeding that fire, making it even bigger and more intense. That is why there are building codes that businesses must have automatic door closure devices on their outside doors, to prevent that air from rushing into buildings on fire.

Albany Fire Department Investigator Sam Harris said “So when the last person comes out of the door, what happens is it closes itself and seals itself off. So the fire can’t get oxygen which therefore allows people a longer time to escape a burning building.”

Firefighters say some business owners disagree with building codes and inspectors requiring them to have those automatic closure devices, but say they will help limit the size of fires and could save lives.

Rethinking fire safety at school – KAALtv

Considering the condition of many of the doors that are supposed to compartmentalize our schools, I’m not sure I agree with this.  What do you think?

“The Fire Marshall has stated that in buildings that have sprinkler systems put in, the preferred method is not to evacuate if there was a fire,” said principal Dewey Schara, who is also a member of the Austin school district’s safety committee.

“We have detectors showing exactly what part of the building the fire is in.”

“Actually what detector is going off or what sprinkler head or what’s actually going off,” added the Austin Fire Department’s Terry Peterson. “Sprinklers spray a tremendous amount of water on that area instantaneously.”

Many schools are also equipped with automatic doors that will close as soon as fire alarms go off.

“Teachers will open up the doors, take a look, if there’s no smoke down there they can proceed down those hallways. If there is smoke, they can stay right where they’re at,” the fire department’s Terry Peterson told us.

Closed bedroom door saves woman from flat fire – Newsquest

Firefighters say the woman, who lived in the flat, was saved by her bedroom door being closed.

A neighbour raised alarm after smelling smoke and seeing blackened windows in a neighbouring ground floor flat in Wyndham Park, Prestwich, off Clifton Road at around 10.15am on Sunday.

Firefighters entered the home and found severe smoke damage to all of the rooms except for a bedroom, where the occupant, a woman, aged in her 40s, was sleeping, with her door shut and was unaware of the blaze. She was taken to North Manchester General Hospital as she was suffering from effects of smoke inhalation.

Violations found at site of garage worker’s drowning – New York Times

As the storm struck the city on Oct. 29, “exit doors were locked” in the garage, investigators said in their report, issued last month. “The employer did not ensure that employees will be able to open an exit route door from the inside.”

Of the four exit doors, three were closed, investigators said. The garage manager said after the storm that he had left one locked door propped open to allow the two workers inside a pathway to the lobby of the luxury condominium building above. One worker escaped as the waters rose; Mr. Narh did not make it out.

But propping open a fire door is also a violation of safety regulations, the report said, because it can allow smoke and fire to spread.

Indiana governor signs school safety bill into law – WDRB

“We have no higher priority than ensuring the safety of our children,” Pence said in the release. “In combination with our administration’s school safety working group, the legislation I sign today will provide new resources to make our schools safer so our teachers can focus on education and our kids can simply be kids.”

SEA 1 outlines required training for school resource officers and establishes the Secured School Safety Board to evaluate local safety plans and develop best practices for school resource officers. The legislation also provides matching grants of up to $50,000 to assist schools in conducting threat assessments and purchasing safety equipment and technology.

Porsche owner drives £46,000 sports car into supermarket door after gear mix-up – Wales Online

Photo: WalesOnlineThis article has nothing to do with doors, but the dangling panic device caught my eye.

A sports car driver took his new £46,000 Porsche to the supermarket – and crashed into the store when he got his gears mixed up.

Staff feared the store was being ram raided when the sports car smashed into the fire escape doors.

But the driver admitted it was all an accident, caused when he put the white convertible Porsche Carrera into first gear instead of reverse.

Fire crews were called to free it from the budget Aldi store in Cardigan.

Store manager Tom Jones said: “It was a complete accident, the chap who had the crash had just bought the car.

“He thought it was in reverse and accelerated straight into the fire exit in his brand new Porsche.

Pensioner praised after shower fire – The Gazette (photo)

Les Munday, fire team safety leader, based in Fleetwood, praised the woman’s response in slamming shut the bathroom door, adding: “The actions of the woman saved what is a very serious fire from spreading out into the remainder of her apartment.

“The pictures show very graphically what a fantastic job a closed door will do to prevent the spread of a fire.

“This gives valuable time for residents to escape from the property and helps keep escape routes clear of smoke and fumes. This is why we tell people to keep doors shut when they are asleep.”

Duval County Courthouse fails another fire test; price to fix problems is unclear – The Florida Times Union

A “fire watch” that was set up this month on six floors of the 800,000-square-foot building is still in effect in the west wing of the fourth, fifth and sixth levels.

Part of the problem there is that doors designed to slide out from the walls and seal off parts of the building aren’t closing completely, meaning a fire could potentially spread from one area to another.

Earlier tests had also found doors that dropped from the ceiling weren’t working as designed, but that had apparently been resolved by this week.

Fire engineer Steve Kowkabany wrote that the doors “continue to be the Achilles heel of the smoke control systems,” and that “very minor issues” such as a push-button touching the door could cause it to retract back into a wall.

The door manufacturer is working on ways to fix those problems.

Zoo keeper, Sarah McClay, was killed by tiger after door was left ‘wide open’ – The Independent

The graphic included with this very sad story illustrates the security between animal cages and the staff – even the public.  I don’t know for sure if the photo on this page is of the actual door, but it’s a simple slide bolt.  Is this adequate? 

The zoo confirmed in a statement the door between the 5ft by 20ft staff area was “wide open” and the slides to the outdoor areas were left open.It added: “We are convinced this was not anything but an accident caused by human error. The two horizontal slides and the den door were in full working order at that time and this was documented by police.”

Early morning fire in South Nashua apartment complex Sunday, one resident hospitalized – The Telegraph

According to a report from Nashua fire officials, the resident of the apartment had discovered an oven fire, then opened exterior sliding door, as well as the oven door and then exited the building leaving their apartment door open.

“Nashua Fire Rescue reminds all residents that in the event of these types of incidents, shut the oven off and leave the door closed. Evacuate and call 911 to report your emergency,” a press release from Nashua Fire Rescue stated. “When evacuating in a multifamily building (apartments/condos/etc), be certain to close the apartment unit to hallway door. This will prevent the smoke and/or fire from spreading into the exit corridors and adjacent areas.”

And finally, some random “funnies”…

Taking a Break FAIL

Mitch Hedburg – Fire Exit

Life of a Theater Techie

Wasn’t me!

Low Res Door Stop

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8 Responses to “Fire and Egress Doors in the News”

  1. J. Peter Jordan says:

    Many owner’s design standards require closers on exterior doors for “door control” purposes. If the door gets caught by a gust of wind, it might whack the user or the adjacent wall or even damage the door installation itself. On doors that are not latched, a closer can keep the door closed (I successfully argued for this on a recent job). It is just a good idea IMHO,

    I can see why the AHJs might want it, but would scratch my head as to I might find such a provision in the code.

    • Lori says:

      I agree completely – there are lots of reasons to use closers on exterior doors, but when I read about the “code requirement” I thought I must have missed something!

    • EDF says:

      The code may not be a NFPA, it might be a building code ( SBC or IBC or even something from TJC)
      If the outside or exterior wall is a non-rated barrier, then the door doesn’t have to have a closure or any other exit device. Am I right ?

      TJC could use this as a building pressurization for T&B (test and balance mechanical standard) Or CDC for infection control in healthcare. Or even possibly a security device to maintain the security of the buildings.

      But I cant see anything in regards to exterior doors being required to use a closure.

      just to many CODE (s) to remember them all… whew !

  2. Curtis Meskus says:

    So we should ban all windows that open also, doors that go from hallways into rooms, ventilation openings, screen doors, air curtains since they all let air into a building.

    Code requirement – not that I know of, unless there is a local ordinance. Is it a good idea to close the door? Yes, it will slow the spread of fire no matter what kind of door it is.

    Code compliance and inspections lead to non-events

  3. paul baril ahc/cdc says:

    i would have to see it in black and white print.

  4. Gerald Austin says:

    In cold climates around here, most of the business exterior doors have closers simply for draft control to keep the cold weather out and get the door pulled shut where it is latched and out of the wind field that might catch it and damage it. I have a closer on my combination screen and glass exterior door at home too but I don’t believe it would serve the fire purpose mentioned.

    From a commercial building perspective, many buildings have a walk off vestibule so that occupants near the door do not get a blast of cold air or sit in cold air as person after person opens the door. The vestibule arrangements are good at limiting air exchange into the building. Most of the doors around here have power assisted opening and closing devices and we do have a revolving door. A number of doors are of the power operated sliding type with fire breakaway. It would be counterproductive to add a closer to those. I believe this is why there is no reasonable requirement for adding a door closer as a “one code size fits all” type requirement and particularly not for the purposes of limiting oxygen to a fire. From the example given of the window, you would need window closers too would you not to limit the “air rushing into the building” from that source.

    Having said that there are reasons for having a fire rated door as an outside door, particularly when the area or building arrangement adjacent to the door might represent a real threat to the building. I still don’t find anything even about this that requires a door closer. There is a major difference between interior and exterior doors. Further, I cannot recall any building in my experience with a fire rated exterior except where the wall is between two buildings.

  5. Eric says:

    First…I agree with the comment Curtis made. A closed door will only protect that little section of the building. There are typically a lot more windows in a building that will allow air in than doors. If there is such a code, I don’t think it fits the cause.

    Second…I plan to sit down with my kids tonight and tell them that if the fire alarms go off at school and the teacher tells them to stay in their seat that they have permission to get up and run out of the school…in a safe direction of course. That’s ludicrous to assume that the fire won’t spread to other locations. Hopefully the sprinklers will do their job but there is always a possibility that something malfunctions or the sprinklers aren’t enough to contain the fire. This is a case of better safe than sorry. The 10 minutes of lost education time will not be missed.

    Third…Porsche at Aldi….does anyone else question this???? I guess that’s why they can afford a Porsche. BTW…I hope they moved the car quickly…he’s blocking an emergency exit. That’s a code violation. And…I think there was a reporting error. The article mentions that a man was responsible for the accident. That just can’t be. A woman must be responsible for this somehow. 🙂 kidding of course…just a joke…I don’t want anyone bent out of shape.

  6. Jim Elder says:

    I would also argue that sliding doors present this same problem; particularly the doors that must breakout from the inside.

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