Readers often ask me to share photos of fire door assemblies that have helped to prevent a fire from spreading. I just received the photos below from Scott Strassburg (the same AHJ who sent yesterday’s amazing WW photos); these photos clearly show the benefits of a closed and latched fire door. This was a cooking fire that reached the wood cabinets and then spread. As the tenant escaped from the apartment where the fire began, the door between the apartment and the corridor was left open, allowing the fire to spread into the corridor.
At the ends of the corridor, there were two fire doors – one leading to a stairwell (very close to the apartment where the fire originated) and one that was a horizontal exit leading to more apartments. These doors were both closed and latched, and prevented the fire from compromising the egress routes from other floors.
Horizontal exit from the non-fire side:
Looking through horizontal exit to corridor:
Non-fire side of the stair door:
Fire side of the stair door:
Looking down the corridor:
The apartments which opened onto this corridor were directly affected by the position of the entrance doors – when doors were left open during the evacuation and subsequent firefighting efforts, the fire was able to spread into the apartment. When doors were closed and latched, the apartment suffered much less damage. If building occupants were behind these closed doors, the doors would have offered some protection from the smoke and flames – this is very important since the egress route from these apartments was not usable.
This door was open:
The doors to these two apartments were closed:
Fire door assembly inspections would go a long way toward improving the safety of multi-family residential buildings, where fires are not uncommon and fire doors may be modified or compromised by tenants, visitors, or maintenance personnel. I hope to see increased enforcement of fire door inspections in these facilities.