In July 2022, the New York Times reported that a tragic fire in a Bronx apartment spread rapidly due to an open door. According to Mayor Eric Adams, the malfunctioning door allowed smoke to permeate the building, leading to significant casualties. However, other properly functioning fire doors contained the fire, providing safe exits for many residents.

This incident highlights the crucial role that fire rated doors play in saving lives and property. Therefore, understanding fire rated door standards is essential for ensuring safety in such emergencies​.

fire rated

Credit on Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

What is a Fire Rated Door?

Fire rated doors are designed to meet strict regulations and to ensure that they withstand a fire’s intense heat and flames. By containing the spread of fire and smoke, the doors provide a vital layer of protection for people and property.

Fire Rated Door Codes

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides comprehensive guidelines for fire rated doors through various codes and standards. For example, NFPA 80 outlines detailed requirements for the door assemblies, including fire-resistance ratings, temperature ratings, and smoke ratings. NFPA 80 requires this door type to be installed in specific locations, such as corridors and exit doors, to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

Other NFPA Codes

  • NFPA 101
  • NFPA 105
  • The International Building Code (IBC)
  • Local fire codes

Specific Requirements for Fire Rated Doors

NFPA 80 provides the following specific requirements for fire rated doors based on several key criteria.

Criteria Requirements
Fire Resistance Rating Must meet specific time ratings such as 30-min, 1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour, etc.
Temperature Must withstand high temperatures beyond 250°F.
Smoke Rating Prevent smoke from spreading through the door using smoke-resistant materials and seals.
Structural Integrity Maintain structural integrity, including frame, hinges, and components.
Seals and Gaskets Seals and gaskets must withstand high temperatures and prevent smoke and heat escape.
Hardware and Fasteners Hardware and fasteners must withstand high temperatures and maintain integrity.
Door and Frame Securely attached, aligned, in good order with no damage.
Self-Closing Self-closing hardware must close the door from full open position; inactive leaf closes before active leaf.
Door Mechanism Latching hardware must operate and secure the door from a full open position with no interference.
Door Clearance Clearance: top/vertical edges – 1/8 inch ± 1/16 inch; gap between doors ≤ 3/16 inch; wood ≤ 1/8 inch.
Signage Signage ≤ 5% of door surface; attached with adhesive; no interference with operation or fire-rated glazing.
Testing and Inspection Rigorous testing and inspection to meet fire-rated standards.

To read more information about NFPA 80 – Fire Door, click here.

Fire Rated Doors Accessories

To ensure compliance with fire safety regulations, the doors require specific accessories. These include:

  • Fire Door Frame: A frame that is labeled with the fire-resistance rating and other relevant information.
  • Fire Door: A door that is labeled with the fire-resistance rating and other relevant information.
  • Steel Type Hinges: Hinges that are designed to withstand high temperatures and maintain their integrity during a fire.
    Supplemental Accessories

In addition to these required accessories, supplemental accessories can be used to enhance the performance and functionality of fire rated doors. These include:

  • Door Shims: Thin pieces of material used to adjust the door’s fit and ensure proper closure.
  • Door Screws: Screws used to secure the door to the frame and ensure a tight seal.

fire rated door hardware

Achieve a Fire Rated Door with ADA Compliance

ADA compliance is critical for doors that serve senior communities, disabled individuals and children. To achieve a fire rated ADA door, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Fire-resistant Materials: Stainless steel, gypsum, or other durable metal materials.
  • Door and Frame: The door and frame must meet the IBC and NFPA 80 requirements. Door hardware must also display the appropriate fire label.
  • Door Clearance: Satisfies the 78” minimum clearance requirement.
  • Door Opening Force: Measure the door-opening force and closing speed. Interior doors should require no more than 5 lbs. of force to open.
  • Closing Speed: 5 seconds minimum door closing speed
  • Wheelchair Access Entryways: The door hinges design should be ideal for wheelchair-accessible entryways.

Go deeper with ADA door requirements here.

ADA requirements

Fire Rated Doors Applications

The need for a fire rated door depends on the location of the wall, building, commercial area, industrial use, and more. These doors are required in many situations, including:

fire rated

Waterson Stainless Steel Fire Rated Door Hinges

Waterson hinges combine an overhead closer and hinge into one attractive component with optional hold-open and door stop features. These hinges are ideal for commercial openings, gates, and glass doors. The hinges are easily installed and adjusted to comply with ADA & ICC A117.1 requirements for opening force and to assure quiet, secure closing. Made with stainless steel, Waterson hinges meet NFPA 80 and are UL 3-hour fire-rated, as well as being one of the best door hinges for both interior and all-weather exterior openings. See all our features.

Request For Information

Please note that Waterson closer hinges start from a size of 4″x4″. If you’re in need of smaller self-closing hinges, we’d recommend checking out some other resources! Also, we only provide single acting closer hinges. Thank you.

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