What is a Fire-Rated Door?

Fire-Rated DoorA fire-rated door is an important way to reduce or stop the spread of smoke or fire throughout a building. Fire doors are used in both residential and commercial settings and come in many designs, including blank functional doors to attractive solid wood designs. All fire doors are made from fire-resistant materials like steel and gypsum, although some have windows which must also be subjected to fire tests. These fire-resistant windows may have wire mesh or liquid sodium silicate between window panes to slow the spread of fire and smoke.

Fire Door Ratings

Fire-rated doors are required to meet certain requirements of building and fire codes. Every fire door has an assigned fire rating that’s based on a fire endurance test. These doors may have a rating of anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes, which means the door is rated to limit temperatures on the other side of the door assembly for a specific period of time to slow the spread of the fire. Fire doors are labeled with a fire rating that indicates the door’s ability to slow the spread of fire and hot gas.

When is a Fire-Rated Door Necessary?

Ideally, fire doors are used whenever there is a risk of a fire spreading, according to JB Kind Doors.¬†For example, fire doors may be used in passages to kitchens or rooms with a fireplace. Depending on local building codes, fire doors may also be necessary when there is a door with an “exit” sign or when a door leads into stairwells or horizontal exits.

Preventing Fire Door Hazards

A fire-rated door is only effective when it is used properly. Fire doors should never be blocked or held open, as it creates a break in the fire barrier. Some fire doors are equipped with an electromagnetic device that allows the door to remain open unless a fire alarm or smoke alarm is activated, in which case the door automatically closes. When a fire door is open or closed, the latches should never be taped over.

All fire doors must be installed properly to avoid any gaps between the door frame and the wall that would break the fire barrier. Fire doors should also be inspected annually to verify there are no breaks in the surfaces, modifications to the door assembly, or gaskets or seals that require repairs. While there are many types, every fire-rated door serves the same purpose: saving lives and slowing the spread of smoke and fire throughout a building until responders can arrive.

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