This article is the second in a series of articles dedicated to the changes in the new NFPA 80. You may read these articles in any order, but the first article includes some helpful tips for accessing NFPA 80 online. Tips for highlighting your copy of NFPA 80 are also in the first article.
As we go through the following changes, remember the provisions and requirements of Chapter 4 General Requirements apply to many of the fire door assemblies covered in NFPA 80. Users need to refer to both Chapter 4 and the applicable chapter for each particular fire door assembly.
Changes in Chapter 4 General Requirements include new:
- Provisions for job site preparations
- Information printed on labels
- Marking requirements for glazing in fire doors and door frames
- Provisions for oversized fire doors
- Provisions for detectors and fusible links
- Provisions for listed products installed at or under door bottoms
Additionally, several other changes occur in this chapter.
Provisions for Job Site Preparations
Changes in Section 4.1.3 Appurtenances include reordering its existing content and adding new requirements. The term appurtenance refers to many items (e.g., door hardware) that attach to fire door assemblies. Factories prepare doors and door frames for hardware items that require mortised cutouts and reinforcements. This type of work is made according to “…the manufacturer’s inspection service procedure and under label service” (see 220.127.116.11). In other words, only the factories or their authorized (licensed) distributors prepare doors and door frames for hardware in their shops. Authorized distributors subscribe to periodic inspection services from a nationally recognized testing lab (e.g., Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek/Warnock Hersey). During installation, installers in the field drill holes in the doors and frames for surface-mounted hardware. Section 4.1.3 lists the preparations made by the factories and the installers. Since NFPA 80 limits work in the field to drilling round holes during installation (see 18.104.22.168.1), all other work is done by the factories or authorized distributors.
No changes occur in paragraph 22.214.171.124. Work that is expressly allowed by installers is in paragraph 126.96.36.199*, which is now in list format for improved readability; there were no technical changes.
“188.8.131.52* The following job site preparations shall be permitted:
- Holes for surface-applied hardware, function holes for mortise locks, and holes for labeled viewers
- A maximum ¾ in. (19 mm) wood and composite door undercutting
- Installation of protection plates (see 6.4.5)”
Follow the asterisk to paragraph A.184.108.40.206 in Annex A, which is new; it explains undercutting of wood and composite doors. The term undercutting refers to the practice of removing a portion of the door leaf, across its width and parallel to the bottom edge, to reduce its height. Undercutting doors increases the clearance dimension between the bottom of the door and finished floor. NFPA 80 limits the maximum clearance under a door to ¾ in. (see 220.127.116.11). When the clearance under the door leaf is already ¾ in., undercutting the door is not allowed. Sometimes clearance under the door is less than ¾ in. and undercutting of the door might be necessary for it to swing easily. Taking too much material off the bottom of the door structurally weakens it and might cause it to fail in a fire. When considering undercutting wood and composite doors, verify with the door manufacturer first since undercutting some doors is not allowed. Otherwise, installers might unknowingly ruin the doors.
Note: While not expressly prohibited by NFPA 80, trimming wood and composite doors in width (e.g., planing the vertical edges) is not allowed. Nor, is trimming the top edge of wood and composite doors. 18.104.22.168(2) only allows undercutting of wood and composite doors.
Paragraph 22.214.171.124.2 now includes the phrase; “…unless otherwise permitted by 126.96.36.199.3.” New paragraph 188.8.131.52.3 recognizes that some door hardware items require round holes that are greater than 1 in. (25.4 mm) in diameter. Drilling of larger holes is allowed, as long as both the listing of the door and hardware item allow it.
New paragraphs 184.108.40.206.4 and 220.127.116.11.5 include provisions for drilling raceways in doors. A raceway is a long hole that is bored through the width of the door. Adding electrified locking functions to existing fire-rated doors is common, which requires a raceway in the doors. In fact, several years ago, Intertek developed training and certification for individuals doing this kind of work, it’s called the Perfect Raceway Program. Installers attach their drilling equipment to the hinge edge of the door and bore a hole through to the lockset cutout in the lock edge. Next, installers pass a cable consisting of stranded copper conductors (color coded). They drill another hole in the hinge reinforcement in the door frame. Through-wire hinges conceal the wiring that is passing from the wall to the door. Once completed, installers attach a supplemental label on the door.
Factories install raceways in new doors. Authorized (licensed) distributors might also install raceways in new doors. Intertek’s certified Perfect Raceway Installers install raceways in existing fire-rated doors and have been for some time. New paragraphs 18.104.22.168.4 and 22.214.171.124.5 recognize this practice in the industry and contain provisions for installing raceways in doors as part of the installation process. Let’s take a look at these new provisions:
“126.96.36.199.4 Drilling raceways for wires when performed at the job site shall be in accordance with the door manufacturer’s listing and when permitted by the laboratory with which the door is listed.
188.8.131.52.5 Where the door manufacturer’s listing does not contain provisions for drilling raceways, the raceways shall be considered field modifications in accordance with 184.108.40.206.”
Before drilling raceways in existing doors, verify the listing of the doors includes raceways. (Remember, the term listing refers to how one of the national testing laboratories recognizes that manufacturer’s products—the testing lab publishes a listing for those products.) Current manufacturers’ websites contain technical information, which might include their listings. When the listing of the door includes raceways, verify the testing laboratory whose name is shown on the label of the door permits this work.
Older doors and doors from obsolete manufacturers might not have been tested or listed with raceways. Paragraph 220.127.116.11.5 states installing raceways in these doors is a field modification and is subject to paragraph 18.104.22.168 under Field Modifications.
Information Printed on Labels
Section 4.2 Listed or Labeled Products contains a great deal of new content. Labels on fire-rated door assemblies are extremely important, especially after installation. Inspectors, building supervisors, and maintenance personnel need know which doors are fire-rated. These labels tells us who made the doors, who tested the doors, and the level of fire-protection rating of the door. Depending on the type of fire door, the label might contain more information such as latch throw, fire exit hardware, degree of temperature rise, and smoke door (the so-called S-label) compliance.
Uniform fire door labels do not exist. Each testing laboratory issues its version of fire door labels, and they allow certain factories to print their own versions of the labels. Labels might be printed on thin metal plates or Mylar-type materials. Some labels contain very little information, making them specific to only a few fire doors. Other labels contain too much information, to the point where it is difficult for people in the field to assess the door correctly. Labels come in several colors (e.g., black, red, green, blue, and plain metallic). Examples of some fire door and door frame labels are shown below. To see more types of fire door labels, use your favorite Internet search engine and click on “view images.”
Previous editions of NFPA 80 didn’t specify what information needed to be printed on the fire door labels. The newly expanded Section 4.2 specifies the minimum information that is needed on fire door labels. It’s excerpted here for your convenience:
“22.214.171.124 At a minimum, the label for fire doors shall contain the following information:
- The words “fire door.”
- The manufacturer’s name or a code that can be traced back to the manufacturer.
- The marking of a third-party certification agency.
- The fire protection rating of the door.
- A unique serial number, if provided by the listing agency.
- The fire test standard designation to which the assembly was tested.
- *The temperature transmission rise at 30 minutes. If the temperature transmission rise of a fire door exceeds 650°F (361°C), the temperature rise shall be permitted to be omitted.”
Note: Follow the asterisk on item (7) to paragraph A.126.96.36.199(7) in Annex A.
“188.8.131.52 For Swinging doors provided with builders hardware, the minimum latch throw shall also be shown. (See 4.3.3.)”
Fire door labels on swinging doors list the minimum latch throw (sometimes called projection) for single doors and pairs of doors (see Fig. 1). In most cases, single doors require ½ in. latch throw and pairs of doors require ⅝ in. or ¾ in. latch throw. Latch bolt throw is important because it ensures latching hardware engages the strike plates sufficiently, such that the doors will remain closed in a fire. Where the operational clearance dimensions between the doors and door frames or between meeting stiles of pairs of doors are greater than that allowed by NFPA, latch bolt engagement in the strike plates in reduced. For example, wood fire doors are allowed up to ⅛ in. clearance between the door and door frame. Latch bolts with ½ in. throw (projection) project about ⅜ in. into the strike plate and will securely hold the doors closed in a fire. When the clearance between the door and frame is greater, the projection of the latch bolts into the strike plates is reduced. These doors are likely to fail in a fire.
Another item that is listed on some fire door labels is fire exit hardware. When fire exit hardware devices are used, the fire door label needs to state “Fire Door to be Equipped with Fire Exit Hardware”—which is stated in 4.3.3. Some hollow metal door companies print their fire door labels with the minimum latch throw dimensions and include the statement “Fire Door to be Equipped with Fire Exit Hardware” (see Fig. 2).
“184.108.40.206 Where applicable, a statement that no hose stream test was conducted shall be provided.”
In the case of 20-minute (1/3-hour) rated fire doors, many of these doors are not required to pass the hose stream test after passing the furnace test. NFPA 80’s labeling requirements require the fire door labels attached to these doors to include a statement that the doors were not subjected to the hose stream test (see Fig. 3).
Starting with paragraph 220.127.116.11, NFPA 80 lists the information needed for labels attached to fire door frames. Unlike the labels for fire doors, the labels for door frames do not include hardware requirements like latch throw and fire exit hardware. Nor, are they rated for temperature transmission rise.
“18.104.22.168 The label for fire door frames shall contain the following information:
- The words “fire door frame.”
- The manufacturer’s company name or a code that can be traced back to the manufacturer.
- The marking of a third-party certification agency.
- The fire protection rating of the frame.
- The fire test standard designation to which it was tested.
22.214.171.124.1 Fire door frames rated at 3 hours when installed with masonry anchors in masonry walls or rated at 1 ½ hours when provided with wood stud or steel stud anchors and installed in gypsum board walls shall not be required to be provided with a fire protection rating.
126.96.36.199.2 In lieu of 188.8.131.52.1, fire door frames shall be marked with the label or embossment of the third-party certification agency and the manufacturer’s name or a code that can be traced back to the manufacturer.
184.108.40.206.3 Where applicable, a statement that no hose stream test was conducted shall be provided.”
NFPA 80’s requirements for fire door frame labels follows the long-standing industry practice. Embossed labels are stamped into most fire-rated hollow metal door frames; some have metal labels. Aluminum, pressed steel, and wood fire door frames have metal or Mylar-like labels.
Frame labels for side light and transom light door frames might include the hourly rating of the frame, which matches the fire-protection rating of the door leaves (see Fig. 4). Most fire-rated side light and transom door frames are rated for 45-minutes (¾-hour) or less (see Fig. 5). Fire resistance-rated side light or transom light door frames are used where the fire ratings greater than 45-minutes are needed. These types of side light and transom light door frames are tested to ASTM E119 or UL 263 standards, rather than NFPA 252, UL 10B, or UL 10C and require fire resistance-rated glazing materials. In these cases, the labels state the fire resistance rating, not the fire protection rating of the door frame.
Frame labels for side panel and transom panel door frames might include the hourly rating of the frame. Depending on the application, side panel and transom panel door frames are fire protection-rated for up to 3 hours.
Paragraph 220.127.116.11 covers the minimum information that needs to be printed on fire window labels. Hollow metal fire windows (a.k.a. borrowed lights) are common. Fire windows formed by other materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, pressed-steel, steel, and wood composite materials are also used. (Fire windows are covered in NFPA 80, Chapter 17 Fire Windows.)
“18.104.22.168 At a minimum, the label for fire window frames shall contain the following information:
- The words “fire window frame”
- The manufacturer’s company name or a code that can be traced back to the manufacturer
- The marking of a third-party certification agency
- The fire protection rating
- The fire test standard designation to which it was tested”
Oversized fire doors cannot bear the standard fire door labels because they are too large to be tested. NFPA 80 and the model building codes allow the use of oversized fire doors, as long as they are labeled (or a certification of construction is on file), with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) approval. Since the doors are too large to be tested, factories build the doors using the same materials, processes, and techniques as their fire-tested products. Engineering evaluation by third-party certification agencies (e.g., UL, Intertek/Warnock Hersey, and FM) determines the oversized fire doors meet the construction and quality of the standard products.
Labels on oversized fire door assemblies need to comply with paragraph 22.214.171.124, it states:
“The label for oversized doors shall contain the following information:
- The words “oversized fire door”
- The manufacturer’s company name or a code that can be traced back to the manufacturer
- The marking of a third-party certification agency
- The basis of a fire protection rating”
Marking of Glazing Materials in Fire Doors and Door Frames
Glass and glazing materials used in fire door assemblies must be either fire protection-rated or fire resistance-rated. For some time now the model codes required fire-rated glazing materials to be marked with glazing codes for each application. At one point, these glazing codes varied depending on which building code was used. For example, the International Building Code (IBC) glazing codes varied from glazing codes in NFPA 101, Life Safety Code and NFPA 5000, Building and Construction Safety Code. Recently, the glazing codes from each code standardized and are essentially the same. Accordingly, NFPA 80 now includes these requirements. Paragraph 4.2.2* states: “New fire protection-rated and fire resistance-rated glazing shall be marked in accordance with Table 4.2.2, and such markings shall be permanently affixed.”
New table 4.2.2 Marking Fire-Rated Glazing Assemblies appears in NFPA 80 is excerpted here for your convenience.
Note: In the footnote of table 4.2.2, the reference to NFPA 101 is shown as “[101:Table 126.96.36.199].” NFPA uses square brackets “[ ]” to indicate extracted content from a source document. In this case, the source document is NFPA 101, 2015 edition.
Remember, the asterisk marking paragraph 4.2.2 indicates there is additional information in Annex A. Following the asterisk to paragraph A.4.2.2, we are referred to Table A.4.2.2 Minimum Fire Ratings for Opening Protectives in Fire Resistance-Rated Assemblies and Fire-Rated Glazing Markings. This table, too, is extracted from the 2015 edition of NFPA 101; it’s Table 188.8.131.52—see the footnote below. For the time being, Table A.4.2.2 will remain in Annex A since there are several differences between NFPA 101/5000 and the similar table in the IBC.
Remember, Annex A’s content is explanatory in nature, not enforceable. Chapters 1 through 21, the main body of NFPA 80, contain minimum (mandatory) requirements that are enforceable.
NFPA 80 has required individual pieces of glazing materials to be marked with a label, since the 1992 edition. At that point in time, the label was simply a marking or etching that indicated the wired glass (or other glazing material) was labeled for use on fire door assemblies. Later, the model building codes expanded on the information to be marked on the glazing materials, and it has continued to evolve ever since.
Fire door assembly inspectors need to be aware that these markings are required. They also need to be aware of the marking requirements at the time the door assemblies were installed. Glazing materials installed prior to the application of the 1992 edition of NFPA 80 were not marked. They are still in use today. There is no requirement for a facility to replace unmarked existing glazing materials with new glazing materials that are marked. When replacing damaged glazing materials, new glazing materials are required to comply with the marking requirements that are current at the time of replacement (see 5.5.2 and 5.5.3).
Provisions for Oversized Doors
In earlier editions of NFPA 80, the only provision for using oversized fire doors required the AHJs to be consulted on the use of such fire door assemblies (see paragraphs 4.3.9 and A.4.3.9 in the 2013 edition). New provisions appear under Section 4.3.9* Oversized Fire Doors in the 2016 edition of NFPA 80. The first provision recognizes that some fire door assemblies are too large to be tested. These large door assemblies need to be labeled or have a certificate of inspection from an approved testing agency.
Certificates of inspection issued by an approved testing agency need to “…state that the door conforms to the requirements of design, materials, and construction but has not been subjected to the fire test” (see paragraph 184.108.40.206).
These new provisions codify the long-standing industry-practice when oversized fire door assemblies are used. Since NFPA 80 contains these new provisions, AHJs might approve the use of an oversized fire door assembly but you need to seek their approval in advance of installing one.
Provisions for Detectors and Fusible Links
Section 4.7 has a new title, it’s called “Actuation Devices for Fire Doors, Fire Shutters, and Fire Windows.” Automatic-closing doors need some form of a system that causes the door to close under fire conditions, and in some cases upon loss of power. Electronic detectors (e.g., heat and smoke) release the hold-open mechanism causing the doors to close. These detectors might be tied into “…a fire alarm, water flow alarm, or carbon dioxide release system” (see paragraph 220.127.116.11). Fail-safe systems close the doors when power to the detectors or release mechanisms is interuppted. Fuslbile-link systems (usually consisting of cables, pullies, counter weights, and fusible links) are needed when the automatic-closing system is not fail-safe (see paragraph 18.104.22.168).
Non-fail safe systems might include electronic detectors but the detectors and release mechanisms are not tied into the fire (or other) alarm. These systems need fusible links to ensure the doors will close in a fire. Fusible links systems might not be allowed in some applications due to the extended time it takes for the lead links to melt. Smoke passes through the openings until the links melt and the doors close.
Paragraph 22.214.171.124 includes a new requirement for devices that delay the closing of doors. It states, “Fire doors that incorporate a devlice that delays activation of an automatic-closing, self-closing, or emergency power operation shall not delay the initiation of the closing or reclosing of the door for more than 10 seconds, unless acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.”
In applications where fire doors protect openings through which conveyor systems pass, paragraph 126.96.36.199 requires detectors to provide three critical functions that clear the openings and cause doors to close. First, they need to either “…stop the feed conveyor or otherwise initiate the mechanism that clears the path of the fire door.” Next, the actuation devices need to delay the closing of the doors until the opening is clear and unobstructed; the delay is limited to no more than 10 seconds. Lastly, the actuation devices need to release the automatic-closing or self-closing mechanisms. Horizontally-sliding, vertically-sliding, and rolling steel doors are used to protect these types of openings.
The next two sections cover the installation of smoke and heat detectors. Section 4.7.2 Smoke Detectors requires smoke detectors to be located within specific distances from the door assemblies, “…in accordance with NFPA 72.” This is one example of how external reference codes like NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, add requirements to NFPA 80. Figure 188.8.131.52.5.1(A) below shows the maximum distances for the placement of smoke detectors. Note that NFPA 72 recognizes the use of electrified door closers with built-in smoke detectors. Take time to study this figure closely, it shows a great deal of information.
For more information, read section 184.108.40.206 Smoke Detectors for Door Release Service in NFPA 72, Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, 2016. (Remember, you can read NFPA 72 online through NFPA’s website.)
Section 4.7.3 Heat Detectors covers the placement and operation of heat detectors with door assemblies. Figures 220.127.116.11(a) and 18.104.22.168(b) illustrate where heat detectors are placed in relation to the door assemblies they control. Paragraph 22.214.171.124 requires heat detectors to be installed on both sides of the wall where the door openings occur, “…unless otherwise acceptable to the AHJ.” All of the detectors that are linked to the same door assembly are required to be interconnected “…so that the operation of any single heat detector causes the door to close.”
Section 4.7.4 Fusible Links covers the placement, location, and number of fusible links needed for door assemblies. Figure 126.96.36.199(a) illustrates where fusible links can be installed in relation to the intersection of ceilings and walls. Paragraph 188.8.131.52 requires fusible links to be placed on both sides of the walls where the door openings occur. These links are interconnected by a series of cables or chains that pass through a sleeve in the wall. Doors close when any fusible link melts. It bears mentioning that the fusible link systems covered in 184.108.40.206 are intended for horizontally-sliding, vertically-sliding, and rolling steel door assemblies (among others). This section does not address the use of fusilble links on swinging doors with builders hardware, where fusible links are built into door closer arms—these types of door closers are rarely used on today’s buildings.
Provisions for Listed Products Installed at or Under Door Bottoms
A new provision for mitigating excessive clearances under fire doors is found in paragraph 220.127.116.11. It states. “Products evaluated for fire doors with a bottom clearance in excess of ¾ in. (19 mm) and listed for use at or under the bottom of the fire door shall be permitted where installed in accordance with their listings.” Excessive clearance under fire doors, particularly swinging doors with builders hardware, is one the most commonly cited deficiencies found during safety inspections of door assemblies. Concrete floors have high and low areas that are not level. The unevenness of concrete floors is most noticeable under fire doors. New products are being designed to reduce the clearance under between the bottom of fire doors and the floors. NFPA 80 recognizes the need for these new products and allows their use, provided they are listed for use on fire door assemblies.
When the doors have latching hardware that extend into the floor below the door (e.g, flush bolts, concealed vertical rod bottom latches, etc.), the new products allowed by 18.104.22.168 cannot interfere with the operation of the latching hardware.
A subtle but important change occurred in paragraph 22.214.171.124. The words “fire protection-rated” were inserted before the word “glazing.” Earlier editions of NFPA 80 prohibited the placement of signage on all types of glazing in fire doors. 126.96.36.199 now specifically prohibits the application of signage on fire protection-rated glazing. In other words, signage cannot be applied to fire protection-rated glazing but it can be placed on fire resistance-rated glazing. Annex paragraph A.188.8.131.52 explains that due to the design of some fire doors and requirements for special locking arrangements (e.g., delayed egress), it is necessary to apply the required signage to glazing materials. In these cases, the annex comment recommends the use of fire resistance-rated glazing.
Another change occurred paragraph 184.108.40.206. It states, “Door assemblies shall be used on walls of other construction where listed for sucn installation.” The word “where” was substituted for the word “if” that appears in earlier editions of NFPA 80.
We’ve covered all of the changes in Chapter 4 General Requirements. Be sure to review each of these changes in your copy of NFPA 80 to better understand their context.
Changes in Chapter 5 Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance are covered in the next article.