Because electromagnetic locks do not have an active latchbolt, and because many of them can be installed by drilling holes that are 1-inch diameter or less (allowed by NFPA 80 as a job-site preparation), I have frequently been asked these two questions:
1) Are electromagnetic locks allowed to be used on fire door assemblies?
2) Do electromagnetic locks installed on fire door assemblies have to be labeled?
There is no prohibition on the use of mag-locks on fire door assemblies, as long as all of the egress requirements are met, AND the mag-lock is labeled for use on a fire door assembly. While perusing my NFPA 80 Handbook, I noticed a lengthy paragraph giving further information about Section 188.8.131.52: Only labeled locks and latches or labeled fire exit hardware (panic devices) meeting both life safety requirements and fire protection requirements shall be used.
This section seems pretty straightforward to me – any locks or latches that are installed on a fire door assembly have to be labeled. But the handbook specifically addresses electromagnetic locks in the supporting paragraph, and states: “NFPA 80 does require that all components that are installed on fire door assemblies carry their own specific label for use on fire door assemblies. Furthermore, the installation of any component needs to be in accordance with the listing of the door, frame, and hardware item.”
The question of whether every component installed on a fire door assembly has to be labeled comes up A LOT. Here, the handbook is confirming that yes – every component has to be labeled – including mag-locks. The handbook goes on to say that mag-locks may require reinforcements in the frame, and installing a mag-lock without the reinforcement (if required by the frame manufacturer’s listings) will compromise the fire protection rating of the assembly. Finally, the handbook mentions that some installers of mag-locks might consider modifying or removing the latching hardware in order to allow the mag-lock to control the door (a bad idea). According to the handbook, “Modifying or removing the latch bolt on the door is a serious deficiency that could have tragic consequences if a fire event were to occur.”