As I’m getting more involved with sliding doors, I’m realizing that there are some questions about these doors that have not been addressed in the International Building Code (IBC).  Here’s one that IS covered:

What is considered a “special purpose” door?  Which sliding doors have to comply with the requirements detailed in this section of the code?

The short answer…a “special purpose horizontal sliding, accordion or folding door” as referenced in the IBC is the type of door that is shown in this video from Won-Door:

This type of sliding door is specifically allowed by the IBC in means of egress in buildings other than Group H – High Hazard occupancies.  Normally these doors are hidden in their compartment in the wall, and project across the opening when needed for security or fire protection.  Although they are power-operated doors, they are exempt from the section that addresses other types of automatic doors, and are covered in a section that is specific to this door type.  A bulletin from BHMA distinguishes between the types of doors covered by the two sections.

Special purpose horizontal sliding, folding, or accordion doors may be used in a means of egress only if all 8 criteria listed in the section are met.  This helps to ensure that the door can easily be opened to the minimum required width under all conditions.  The IBC requires these doors to be openable even if a force of 250 pounds is applied perpendicular to the door, a condition that could occur if a group of people were pushing on the door.  The 8 criteria include:

  1. Doors must be power operated and also capable of manual operation upon power failure.
  2. Doors must be openable from the egress side without special knowledge or effort.
  3. Force required to operate the door manually must not exceed 30 pounds to set the door in motion and 15 pounds to close the door or to open the door to the minimum required width.
  4. Door must be openable with a force of 15 pounds, maximum, when a force of 250 pounds is applied perpendicular to the door in the location of the operating device.
  5. If the door is required to be fire rated, it must comply with the rating requirements, and be self-closing or automatic-closing by smoke detection where required.  Door must be installed in accordance with NFPA 80 and comply with the requirements of IBC section 716.
  6. Door must have an integrated standby power supply.
  7. Power supply must be electrically supervised.
  8. Door must open to the minimum required width within 10 sections after the operating device is activated.

The vast majority of sliding doors are not required to meet the criteria listed in this section.  There are separate requirements in the IBC that address manually-operated sliding doors and power-operated sliding doors.

Any questions?

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