Even if you are not required to install fire-rated doors in your business for legal compliance, doing so can be beneficial. To start, they can save you money on your insurance premiums. More importantly, they can minimize injuries and damages by slowing the spread of a fire.
Understanding more about the features of fire-rated doors can help you see why they’re necessary for the protection of your business.
The Fire Safety Program at Georgetown University published an article designed to help their students identify fire-rated doors on campus. They explained that the easiest way to identify a fire-rated door is by looking for the identification at the top of the door. While this metal tag may get painted over on older doors, its imprint should still be visible.
The identification tag will tell you the type and fire rating for the door. It will also identify the maximum temperature the door can withstand within a 30-minute time period. In most cases, the ID tag is on the edge of the door on the hinged side.
There are restrictions on the types of materials used in constructing a fire-rated door. These restrictions relate to the amount of time it will take for a fire to consume the material. The best materials with the longest burn times are wood, hollow metal, and steel doors.
Each material has a different burn rate, so it’s important to consider this feature as you shop for commercial fire-rated doors. Fire-rated doors will range from a 20-minute rating up to a 90-minute rating. On average, doors with higher ratings will cost more than those with lower ratings.
The easiest way to determine the door’s fire rating is by checking the manufacturer’s specifications for the door. If you need to determine the fire rating for a door that is already installed, refer back to the fire-rating ID tag.
In some cases, a fire-rated door may not have a window. This is usually preferable in situations in which privacy or security is another important factor to consider. For example, a patient room in a hospital might have a fire-rated wood door without a window for privacy reasons.
When privacy isn’t a concern, a window can be a beneficial feature in a fire-rated door. The window can give you a view of the fire to help you determine the best path for escape. On fire-rated doors, there is wire mesh lining the glass. The mesh will prevent the glass from shattering if it gets too hot.
An important safety practice in any fire is to close doors as you flee the fire. Keeping doors closed will slow the spread of smoke and fire, giving people more time to escape the building. Unfortunately, many people won’t be thinking about this practice in the midst of a panicked escape.
This is why automatic closers are standard features on fire-rated doors. The door will close automatically at a rate determined by the closer’s settings. This allows people to escape without having to worry about pulling doors closed behind them.
You’ll also find panic bars to be standard features on fire-rated doors. These are the long metallic bars that run across the width of the door, which release the latch and open the door. The panic bar allows people to open the door when they may have their vision obscured by smoke, tears, or darkness.
The panic bar saves people from having to fumble with a door latch or knob. In a hurried escape, using the panic bar to open a fire-rated door can save precious time. Combined with the automatic closer, this feature makes it easier to escape and contain a fire.
Fire-rated doors also come equipped with airtight seals around the door frames. The seals ensure air can’t pass beyond a closed door.
Since one of the characteristics of a fire is the need for a steady supply of oxygen, the seal can help extinguish a fire. As the fire consumes the oxygen in one area, the airtight seal will prevent fresh oxygen from feeding the fire.
When you’re looking for new fire-rated doors for your commercial or industrial business, CDF Distributors should be your first stop. To learn more about choosing the best door for your business, contact us today.