Automatic Doors and Fire Safety

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Doors and fire-safety go hand-in-hand. Safe door solutions do more than comply with code - they provide you and your customers safety and peace of mind.

In the case of a fire, you want to ensure you have the right door solution for your building. To break down the basics of automatic doors and fire safety, we consulted our resident expert, Dave Timmerman. As ASSA ABLOY Entrance System’s Director of Code Compliance and Safety, Dave’s insights can help to answer some of your biggest questions!

 

When should you use a fire-rated door?

Fire-rated doors are only required in certain locations within a building. Typically, a fire rated door is installed in a fire partition or wall. Fire doors are crafted to withstand flames for a time and to prevent them from spreading.

The rating of the door depends on how long it can resist the flames. “For a door to be rated for 90 minutes,” says Dave, “typically all the components of the door must also have a 90-minute rating; door, frame, hinges, hardware, closer, etc.”

Fire-rated doors are almost exclusively swing doors. When a fire-rated door is required, ASSA ABLOY has the hardware that you need. Our automatic swing door operators have been put to the test – withstanding flames for up to 90 minutes. The ASSA ABLOY SW200i, for example, can be integrated with your fire-alarm system to ensure safe door closure if the alarm is triggered.

 

Not all commercial doors require fire-rating, though. In fact, many businesses need only doors with accessible means of egress.

What is accessible means of egress?

Put simply, egress means “exit.” A door with accessible means of egress, then, is a door that allows all building occupants to exit safely in the case of emergency (such as a fire).

The width of an egress path varies depending on how the building is used. Not only that, “The width of an accessible egress route is also determined by the occupancy load.” Dave adds, “Occupancy load refers to the number of people allowed in the building based on floor space and use.” Ultimately, the larger the building, the wider the egress route.  

Unlike fire-rated doors, doors with accessible means of egress are often sliding doors. To allow maximum egress space, ASSA ABLOY’s sliding door solutions are equipped with full break-out mechanisms. These allow the sliding panels to swing out, creating a larger cleared opening for safe evacuation.

 

ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems Accessible Egress Full Breakout Feature

 

How do I make sure my automatic doors meet the standard for fire safety?

“A Planned Maintenance inspection is one way of making sure the door is compliant with safety standards and is functioning properly,” says Dave. “Fire doors must be inspected annually by a certified fire door inspector for compliance with applicable fire codes.”

If you are in the design or construction phase of your building, you can consult a member of ASSA ABLOY’s Architectural Team for specification support.