Fire and safety regulations can be a complex topic to understand, especially for small businesses that only have so much time and resources available to spend on the topic. Ensuring that your doors meet these standards is incredibly important, and a few main organizations determine what the standards are.
The National Fire Protection Association
The National Fire Protection Association provides the gold standard for fire codes around the world. Most federal, state, and local agencies that set fired codes take their lead from this organization. Their codes and standards are extensive, covering a very broad assortment of industries, workplaces, and activities.
In terms of the doors for your place of business, the most important consideration is their use as a means of egress during a fire. The NFPA has stringent guidelines on how many means of egress certain types of buildings must have.
In general, if you’re a simple storefront operation, you’ll likely need both a front and rear door. Things get more complicated for multi-story buildings, requiring commercial fire doors and other provisions.
Another significant component of NFPA codes is that doors must remain unobstructed. If a door can’t be used, it might as well not be there. You’re required to keep doors free of anything that might interfere with their free operation.
This doesn’t just apply to debris and clutter. Egress doors must be readily accessible to everyone, meaning you cannot require a key, code, or other special means of access to allow people to escape your store in case of a fire. This, of course, only applies to the egress side. You can still lock your door from the outside.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Your store is a place of business, and as such, falls under the authority of the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While many of their mandates are drawn from NFPA guidelines, OSHA can actually enforce their fire regulations.
Again, OSHA has mandates on the number of exit routes based on floors, number of occupants, etc. They also make a number of more specific regulations regarding your doors, like “a side-hinged exit door must be used.” They also state that a door must swing out in the direction of exit travel, a fundamental rule of fire safety that prevents a panicked crowd from blocking the only means of escape.
There are also a number of more technical requirements that go into the design of buildings, like the width and height of door openings. This essentially comes down to having an actual door rather than some sort of an escape hatch. In general, if you’re using a commercial storefront door, the design itself will be up to OSHA’s requirements.
Your exit doors likely bear some kind of sticker that says, “this door must remain unlocked during business hours.” Another OSHA rule prevents customers or visitors from becoming locked in a building during a fire or other emergency. OSHA itself doesn’t have specific rules for how to put the messages, but your state might.
If you require a door for fire safety purposes, but that door would present a security hazard, you can have doors that only open outwards. These doors commonly feature crash bars, which open when pressed from inside. In larger stores, you might see these with a warning that states an alarm will sound when the door is opened.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans With Disabilities Act has certain requirements for entryways to different types of businesses. Your storefront must take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety not only of the general population but of those with disabilities, as well.
In general, this means using door closers or other hardware to prevent someone with a disability from being unable to exit through the door safely. The ADA also mandates door clearances to enable wheelchairs to pass through, an important factor to consider when planning for fire safety.
Fire-Rated Doors and Hardware
CDF Distributors can provide you with high-quality fire-rated commercial doors for your business at affordable prices and with fast shipping. Placement, number, and the doors themselves all play into fire safety and the regulations surrounding it. Contact us today for a quote on your order.