continuous hingeWhen I receive a code question, the ideal situation is to be able to point to a specific reference in a code or standard that addresses the topic.  As I have mentioned before, I work with the BHMA Codes, Government, and Industry Affairs Committee (CGIA) on code development, and we have proposed dozens of changes that have reduced the number of door-related issues that fall into the dreaded “gray area.”

Unfortunately, there are still some unanswered questions, and when those arise we have to rely on precedent, intent, and common sense.  Today’s Quick Question is a great example:

When a continuous hinge is installed on an existing fire door assembly, the labels on the fire door and frame are often covered by the hinge.  How should this be handled?

This question has come up multiple times, and I’ve consulted with several code officials on how they would like to see the covered labels addressed.  Just to clarify – I have not received an official answer from the Joint Commission, so I don’t know their position on this.  If you have insight, please share it in the comments!

NFPA 80 requires continuous hinges used on fire door assemblies to be labeled, and to meet the requirements of ANSI/BHMA A156.26, Standard for Continuous Hinges.  The length of a continuous hinge on a fire door must be within one inch of the height of the door leaf.  The standard does not specifically address the process for the covered label.

The labels for a fire door and frame are usually installed on the hinge edge of the door and the hinge jamb of the frame, and state the rating of the component, the manufacturer, etc.  If a fire door assembly is initially specified and installed with a continuous hinge, the labels for the fire door and frame are typically installed in a different location – either on the top of the door and underside of the frame head, or on the strike jamb of the frame and the lock edge of the door.

The problem arises when the opening is initially installed with butt hinges, and a continuous hinge is retrofitted later – the continuous hinge typically covers the labels.  One proposed suggestion has been to cut a hole in the hinge so that the label can still be read.  I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS!  The hinges are labeled and I highly doubt their listings would allow this modification.

The code officials that I have spoken to recommend documenting the presence of the label before installing the continuous hinge.  This documentation would include a photo of each label, along with a photo of the door opening showing its location.  When the doors are inspected, this information should be made available to the inspector.  From a common sense standpoint, I agree that this meets the intent of the codes and standards.  One other recommendation would be to check with the door/frame manufacturer to ensure that their listings allow the retrofit of the continuous hinge, and to verify the required method of filling the existing hinge preps.

Have you had experience with this issue?  Tell us about it in the comments!

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