I am receiving SO MANY questions about fire doors because of all of the annual fire door inspections taking place.  In many cases, I can point to NFPA 80 or the building code/fire code for an answer, or at least find some guidance in the handbook or commentary for the applicable code or standard.  Some of the details are not addressed in the codes, standards, or handbooks, and I need to look at the listings for a specific product, talk to our compliance engineers, call the listing labs, and/or request a staff opinion from NFPA or the ICC.

And sometimes there is no documentation to answer the question, but with these inspections and interpretations happening every day it’s extremely important to come to some sort of consensus.  In those situations, I ask for your opinion and usually tell you what I think.  This is one of those days.

This question came to me twice in two days, from two different people.  In one case, the condition in this photo had been cited as a deficiency during a fire door inspection:

In the other case, someone installing a closer on a fire door assembly was asking what to do in this situation where the 5th screw can not be used:

I did everything I mentioned above to search for answers – checking the codes, standards, and handbooks, reading the listings, talking to engineers – I even called UL.  Although I don’t have any real documentation to wave around, I will tell you my opinion based on my research.  The AHJ may have a different opinion from me, but I think my logic is sound.

When a fire door is tested, the door is closed and latched during the fire test – as it would be during an actual fire.  It’s important for the closer to function properly to ensure that the door is closed and latched, and this is verified during the annual fire door inspection.  The 5th screw helps to secure the shoe to the frame for added strength and durability, but wouldn’t be critical during a fire if the the closer is secured to a frame that is properly reinforced and the closer is functioning correctly – this would be confirmed during the annual fire door inspection.

I believe that for the shoe with 6 screw holes, the 5th and 6th holes give two options for adding the extra screw because sometimes one of the two holes falls in a location where the screw can’t be used.  So in my opinion, the “missing” 6th screw would not be a deficiency.  For the shoe with 5 screw holes, the 5th screw is strongly recommended (LCN has a part that will help in some applications), but if it can’t be installed because of the frame configuration, it won’t affect the performance of the fire door during a fire and should not be a deficiency.

What do you think?


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