The closing speed of a door on an accessible route equipped with a door closer is limited by the accessibility standards to a minimum of 5 seconds to move the door from 90 degrees to 12 degrees from the latch. This ensures that a door does not close too quickly. But what about the maximum closing speed of a fire door? How quickly should the door close? If the door closes too slowly, could it negatively impact the ability of the fire door to deter the spread of smoke and flames?
This question comes up with regard to delayed action closers, which can hold the door in the open position for a minute or two (I wrote about it here). Because the model codes do not specifically address whether a delayed action closer can be used on a fire door, it’s left up to the interpretation of the code officials. To remove the need for individual interpretation, a code change was proposed for the 2018 edition of the International Building Code (IBC).
The original proposal was to allow delayed action closers to be used on fire doors, but to limit the hold-open time to 60 seconds. The ICC technical committee recommended removal of the 60-second limit, and approved the proposal as modified, so delayed action closers are allowed, regardless of the hold-open time (although an AHJ could object to excessive hold-open time). The following language has been approved as modified by the committee:
Committee Action: Approved as Modified
7220.127.116.11 Delayed action closers. Doors required to be self-closing and not required to be automatic closing shall be permitted to be equipped with delayed action closers with not more than 60 seconds delay before the door is closed.
Including provisions for delayed action closers is appropriate as they are being widely used. The modification removes the 60 second door-closing time delay as it is an arbitrary number. The committee felt a public comment to address time delay should be considered.
This language will be incorporated into the 2018 IBC, and because it is more of a clarification and not an actual change, it could be used as guidance prior to adoption of the 2018 IBC.