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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either considering a fire rated rolling door or already have one. Congratulations on making your building safer and protecting lives and property!
You also probably know fire rated doors compartmentalize building areas to isolate fire incidents and provide security and access control in wall openings that are not a required means of egress. This is labeled “passive” fire protection and can save lives and prevent property damage during a fire.
What you might not know is fire rated doors must be inspected annually as mandated by the NFPA’s (National Fire Protection Association) Publication 80. The mandate includes an annual fire door assessment and a drop test. NFPA 80 addresses the installing, testing, modifying or repairing of opening protectives, including fire rated rolling doors. NFPA 80 has three elements to ensure fire doors are inspected and evaluated for operation and during drop testing and must be performed by a qualified professional. If the fire rated door fails any one of the three categories mandated in NFPA, it fails the entire test and can no longer be in use.
To learn what exactly the NFPA 80 test entails, keep reading.
During the evaluation, the fire door is first inspected for damage. This can include missing or broken parts along with visible damage or marks. Any conditions that could result in the door not operating correctly are noted. The door should also have clearly visible labels. The evaluator will ask that any painted or coated cables or fusible links to be replaced. A door that doesn’t pass the visual inspection will fail.
Next, the operation of the door is tested. The door will be cycled through its opening and closing cycles as it does in its daily, typical operation. If the operation is affected because the door is not balanced correctly or doesn’t close properly, the door will fail. Before the final step of drop testing, all damages and defects to the door must be addressed. This includes replacement of missing parts and any repairs to get the fire door back to tip-top shape.
Finally, the drop test is performed to confirm the door will close automatically and without issue during a fire. Recommendations for the fire door drop test are typically provided by the door manufacturer, and include all types of door activation to be used during the test. The door must be dropped and reset completely a minimum of two times per NFPA 80 section 188.8.131.52.3.1 evaluate if the door is working properly. After the second drop test is completed, the door can be reset to its typical use in real life. The closing door speed will also be measured by the technician and must be between the average closing speeds of 6” and 24” per second.
While the NFPA 80 testing may seem intimidating, it was created to make sure your doors are working properly in the event of a fire. It’s better to go through a bit of a hassle prior to any fire occurring rather than finding out your fire door is faulty in the charred pieces of what was once your building. You’re not alone in keeping your doors up to snuff, either. Most door manufacturers and dealers have set inspection schedules to keep you and your doors on track and in the best working order.
To learn more, check out the the DASMA Technical Data Sheet (TDS) #270 on Recommended Rolling Door Maintenance Practices and TDS # 271 on Rolling Steel Fire Doors, Drop Testing and Annual Follow-Up. Your door manufacturers and dealers can also help you address questions and concerns you have about fire rated doors and their NFPA 80 evaluations. They can also recommend a qualified technician to perform the test.
That leads us to our next question.
To choose a qualified technician who won’t lead you astray, we recommend asking your prospective technician about their knowledge and background in fire doors and fire door drop testing. Some questions you should ask are: