I received this photo of a fire door in a hotel stairwell from Gabriel Montoya of Jansen Ornamental Supply.  You might be thinking to yourself, “This doesn’t leave me wordless…I see stuff like this all the time!” 

That’s the point.  We all see fire doors that are in desperate need of repair.  Fire doors that don’t close or latch, assemblies with non-listed components, non-code-compliant alterations, excessive clearances…I think I could find a problem with more than half of the fire doors that I see.

So what’s the big deal?  I’ll tell you.  Fire door assemblies have a very important job.  If they are not maintained properly and inspected annually, and deficiencies repaired without delay, they can’t do their job.  If a fire occurs and the fire partitions, fire barriers, and fire walls have 3-foot x 7-foot openings without proper opening protectives (fire door assemblies), the walls can’t provide the necessary compartmentalization.

Fires happen.  According to NFPA, there were 490,500 structure fires in the US in 2020.  These fires resulted in 2,730 civilian fire deaths, 13,000 civilian fire injuries, and $12.1 billion in direct property damage.

Fire door assemblies play an important role.  As part of the passive fire protection system, these assemblies help to compartmentalize the building and contain a fire to one area, reducing oxygen to the fire, and protecting the means of egress to allow building occupants to escape.

Fire door inspections are required by the model codes.  These inspections are mandated after installation, after maintenance work, and annually.  Without the inspections, the existing deficiencies are much less likely to be repaired.

Will the door in this photo stay latched during a fire, protecting the stairwell as a means of egress for people on the floors above?  There’s no way to know, and that’s what leaves me wordless.

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