In Tuesday’s post I wrote about a change to NFPA 80, which allows field-drilled holes larger than 1-inch diameter in fire doors where allowed by the manufacturers’ listings.  This raised a few questions which I will cover in subsequent posts.  The first question:

For which types of hardware does NFPA 80 allow job-site preparations to be made in fire door assemblies?

NFPA 80 specifically allows the following preparations to be made on the job site:

  • Holes for surface-applied hardware
  • Function holes for mortise locks
  • Holes for labeled viewers
  • A maximum 3/4-inch undercutting of wood and composite doors (verify this with the door manufacturer before modifying the door)
  • Installation of protection plates

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, holes drilled as job-site preparations were previously limited to 1-inch diameter with the exception of holes for cylinders.  The 2016 edition allows holes larger than 1-inch diameter to be drilled at the job-site for surface-applied hardware, where permitted by the door manufacturer’s listing and the hardware manufacturer’s listing.

The added paragraph specifically mentions surface-applied hardware, so which types of hardware would qualify?  NFPA 80 states: Surface-applied hardware shall be applied to the door or frame without removing material other than drilling round holes to accommodate cylinders, spindles, similar operational elements, electrified hardware, and through-bolts in doors.

Rim or surface-vertical-rod panic hardware (fire exit hardware) would be considered surface-applied hardware, as would retrofit electrified lever trim for fire exit hardware – as long as the required job-site preparations only involve round holes.  Most door closers, automatic operators, direct-hold electromagnetic locks, gasketing, and coordinators are surface-applied, but keep in mind that all products have to be listed for use on a fire door assembly.  And remember, function holes for mortise locks and holes for labeled viewers are also allowed by this section of NFPA 80.

In my opinion, hardware that requires a prep other than a round hole would not be allowed as a job-site preparation.  Some examples:  a mortise lock pocket, cylindrical lock prep, concealed closer or concealed overhead stop, mortise for butt hinge, shear lock, electric strike that requires a prep beyond a round hole…but keep in mind that some of these preps MIGHT be allowed as a field modification, which is different from a job-site preparation.

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