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Frequently Asked Questions

Fire Ratings - Misc

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A250.8-03, SDI 118-05 Fire Rated Doors and Frames Overview
Fire Rated Doors Video
  • There appears to be some disconnect between manufacturers for hurricane rated doors. Some say they only test with a center mullion and others say they test without (mortise will pass the test). Why is that? I believe the SDI says you must use a mullion. Some manufacturers say not necessarily. Can you elaborate?

Neither the SDI nor the testing protocols referenced in the Code mandate the configuration of the opening. The test protocols are performanced based, and various manufacturers approach paired openings differently, depending on their door construction, hardware selection, opening size and the design pressure they wish to attain.

  • Can we have 2 vertical rod fire exit devices in a 3 hour double leaf fire rated door?

Specific hardware applications for fire doors are not addressed in the codes and standards. The use of 2 vertical rod devices is acceptable if the door manufacturer and fire exit hardware manufacturer have successfully tested these products and received the 3-hour listing.

  • Can you please clarify the difference between fire protection and fire resistant?

Fire-protection-rated assemblies are tested as an opening protective using UL 10C or NFPA 252 with the neutral pressure plane located at 40 inches or less above the floor after 5 minutes into the test (UL 10B may be used for some types of fire-protection-rated assemblies).

Fire-resistance-rated assemblies are tested like a wall/floor/ceiling assembly using ASTM E 119 or UL 263. Within the code, fire protection refers to the ability to block the spread of fire, while fire resistance is the ability to block the spread of fire while also limiting radiant heat transfer through the assembly.

  • Do edge guards also need to be fire rated when they span more than 16" from the bottom of the door?

NFPA 80 does not address edge guards specifically. Technically, an edge guard is not a protection plate (which require a label if installed above the bottom 16 inches of the door); protection plates are defined by NFPA 80 as protective material applied to the face of the door. However, the general consensus from NFPA and the listing laboratories is that all components used on a fire door assembly are required to be listed, unless specifically exempted by NFPA 80. Following this premise, edge guards for fire doors would require a label.

  • Does IBC/ IFC 2012 or 2015 reference NFPA 80 annual fire door inspection of swinging doors with builders hardware?

Section 716.5 of the 2015 IBC requires fire door assemblies to be installed in accordance with NFPA 80, and references the 2013 edition of NFPA 80 (see Chapter 35 for the list of referenced standards). The 2013 edition of NFPA 80 requires fire door assemblies to be inspected and tested after installation (80-2013: 5.2.1). By reference, the 2015 IBC requires fire door assemblies to be inspected and tested after installation.

The 2012 and 2015 editions of the IFC require openings in fire walls, fire barriers, and fire partitions to be maintained in accordance with NFPA 80 (703.1.3). In addition, section 703.2 requires opening protectives to be maintained in operative condition in accordance with NFPA 80. The IFC Commentary states: "This section specifically requires that all opening protectives required by the IBC be maintained in compliance with NFPA 80 so that they can perform their intended function, which is to prevent the passage of smoke, fire or combustion products through openings in fire-resistance-rated walls, ceilings and shafts during a fire emergency." One of the maintenance requirements of NFPA 80 is the annual inspection of fire door assemblies (80-2013: By reference, the 2009, 2012, and 2015 editions of the IFC require annual inspections of fire door assemblies.

  • Doors have a lower rating than the wall. What about borrowed lights and when does a sidelight need 60 minutes for a 1 hour wall vs 45 minute for a door?

This information can be found in the IBC - for the 2015 edition it is in Table 716.5. This table shows the required rating of the wall, the required rating of the opening protective, and whether a fire-protection-rated assembly or a fire-resistance-rated assembly is required. Fire windows are addressed in Section 716.6 in the 2015 IBC. To answer your more specific question, Table 716.5 requires a 1-hour fire-resistance-rated sidelight frame for 1-hour fire barriers that are enclosures for shafts, exit access stairways, exit access ramps, interior exit stairways and interior exit ramps; and exit passageways. A 3/4-hour fire-protection-rated sidelite is allowed for a 1-hour wall if it's another type of fire partition or fire barrier.

  • What is a 0 hour smoke rated door?

The term "smoke door" is not defined in the IBC, and there are many locations where doors are required to have some capability for resisting smoke. These may be doors in smoke partitions or smoke barriers, smoke and draft control doors, doors in health care facilities that are required to resist the passage of smoke, or other locations. Some of these doors require a fire rating, some do not.

In Canada, they do not have code requirements or specific product applications for smoke doors referenced in the National Building Code of Canada. As a result, some specifiers will ask for the 0 hour rating to provide the equivalent door opening to the smoke rated doors without fire ratings found in the US.

  • Is it allowed to install a rated-window in a 20-minute door in the field?

NFPA 80 addresses two categories of alterations made to a fire door assembly in the field. One category is called job-site preparations and one is called field modifications. Job-site preparations are limited to holes for surface-applied hardware, function holes for mortise locks, holes for labeled viewers, a maximum 3/4-inch wood and composite door undercutting, and installation of protection plates (80-2016: This section does not allow the installation of a vision panel in the field. The second category, field modifications, addresses modifications that are not covered as a job-site preparation (80-2016: 5.1.5). For approval of these modifications, a written or graphic description of the proposed modification is sent to the the listing laboratory. If the listing laboratory authorizes the change, the modification may be made in the field and a field visit from the lab is not required. This process is typically handled by the manufacturer of the component being modified, but if the manufacturer is no longer available, the lab may provide an engineering evaluation to support the field modification.

  • What type of anchors can be used for a fire rated door and frame in a retrofit?

NFPA 80 addresses several types of anchors - steel stud anchors, wood stud anchors, masonry anchors, expansion shell anchors, and existing drywall anchors where the frame is punched and dimpled and a spacer provided to prevent the frame from buckling at the screw location. Drywall compression anchors may also be used. The most common anchors for retrofit conditions are expansion shell anchors for masonry walls, existing drywall anchors, or drywall compression anchors. Generally, if a manufacturer has successfully tested and listed a specific anchor for use on a fire door frame, it is acceptable even if it is not specifically mentioned in NFPA 80.

  • How long after installation do fire doors need to be inspected?

NFPA 80 does not state a specific time frame for inspection after installation. The standard states that assemblies shall be inspected and tested "upon completion of the installation" (80-2016: 5.2.1). One possible interpretation could be that the inspection would occur as part of the commissioning process - before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued, although this is not specifically required by NFPA 80.

  • Is there a recommended procedure for repairing fire rated doors?

Fire rated doors and frames should be repaired on a case basis to ensure compliance with NFPA 80. Contact the manufacturer for assistance.

  • Is it possible to have a B label door with a louver of any size for air intake? If so, where in NFPA or other relevant standards is this permitted and what is the maximum size of the louver?

Listed fusible-link type louvers to a maximum size of 24" x 24" are permitted in 45 minute and 90 minute fire doors, with the louver mounted in the bottom half of the door. Louvers may not be used in 20 minute rated doors, or doors of other hourly ratings that may be part of a smoke and draft assembly. Doors with vision kits in the top half of the leaf are allowed if the manufacturer has this capability in their listing procedures. The limitation on exit devices in combination with louvers has been removed from NFPA 80.

  • Why is a 1.5 hour rated door and frame typically required in a 2 hour rated wall?

The fire rating of a door is determined from Table 715.4 of the International Building Code® (2009). In most cases, the door carries a rating less than that of the wall because it is assumed there will be no fuel-load (furniture, fixtures, storage) in front of the door. NFPA 80 stipulates that unused doors be removed and the opening filled with wall construction equivalent to the rated wall.

  • Does SDI have specifications for smoke and draft control doors?

Where required by the code, smoke and draft control doors must be tested and listed in accordance with UL 1784. This is not a Steel Door Institute standard, but all SDI members do provide products compliant with UL 1784.

  • I am the architect for a large industrial project that includes more than 300 steel doors. The 2 hour fire rated egress stair doors have been modified - locksets have been removed and sealed with a steel plate (gauge unknown) with bolts. Have the fire ratings of the doors been compromised?

Yes, every fire door must have a latching device, so you cannot remove a lock or latch from a labeled door and maintain the rating. Where a non-essential piece of hardware has been removed, the remaining holes must be filled with the same material as the door itself.

  • On a recent inspection, the inspector questioned the use of plastic filler for dent repair on a fire rated door frame, stating that it may violate the rating. Do you have a document that covers this, specifically anything that differentiates between a cosmetic repair and the repair of a defect that would interfere with the operation of the door assembly?

Any modification to a fire door may negate the rating. Generally speaking, a cosmetic repair of a fire rated assembly with non-flammable body putty is permissible.

  • SDI 118-2005, section 12 mentions neutral and positive pressure fire test methods. What does that mean?

The reference to "neutral" and "positive" pressure is referring to a specific test method for fire doors, UL 10B being conducted under neutral pressure, and UL 10C under positive pressure. The Building Codes governing the United States require, with few exceptions, that fire doors are not tested and listed to UL 10C. In this test method, the interior of the furnace is operated with a slight pressure against the upper portion of the assembly, to better simulate the dynamics of a real fire.

  • What is the largest size of visible glazing that can be put into a fire rated door?

The required hourly rating will dictate the approved glazing lights available. All glazing used in fire rated doors must be listed and labeled. Basic guidelines on glass are as follows:

20 minute

1,296 sq. inches per light with neither dimension exceeding 54"

45 minutes

1,296 sq. inches per light with neither dimension exceeding 54"

1-1/2 hours

100 sq. inches per door leaf max.

3 hours

flush door, no glass