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Last week I took one of our specwriter apprentices on a field trip to Harvard Law School, a facility where I have spent a lot of time over the years. There are so many examples of different types of hardware, and I think it’s really helpful for people who are new to the industry to see them in action – pocket pivots, less-bottom-rod fire exit hardware, shear locks, overhead stops, swing-clear hinges…I think Harvard has at least one of everything. Our apprentice noticed an old electrical room door and I immediately said, “That would make a great blog post!”
I’ve been asked several times – what is the difference between a swinging door with builders hardware (addressed in Chapter 6 of NFPA 80) and a swinging door with fire door hardware (covered in Chapter 7)? Swinging doors with builders hardware are the fire door assemblies that are commonly seen in modern buildings. Swinging doors with fire door hardware are occasionally found in existing buildings, but are not common today. The door that we saw at Harvard is shown in the photos on this post. I couldn’t confirm whether this is actually a fire door, but this door is constructed in the same fashion as a swinging door with fire door hardware.
When I gave someone this answer recently, he said, “But how do you know??” If “because I said so” isn’t enough, you can find more information in the NFPA 80-2016 Handbook. Section 4.6.2 describes the two categories, with the difference being the construction of the door and frame. Hollow metal doors, flush wood doors, and other types of doors are listed as examples of swinging doors with builders hardware. Examples in the handbook for swinging doors with fire door hardware include door leaves constructed of sheet metal and doors of tin-clad construction.
Builders hardware that is installed as part of a fire door assembly may be supplied by various manufacturers and will typically be marked with a symbol from one of the testing laboratories. Fire door hardware might not bear these same labels because the label on the door covers the entire assembly. So…when you’re referring to NFPA 80, Chapter 6 applies to most of the fire door assemblies supplied today. The requirements of Chapter 7 apply to very few doors in comparison.