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What Does It Mean When a Door is Fire-Rated?


If you’re the owner of a commercial building, fire safety should be one of your top priorities. Commercial building fires often happen without warning and can result in extensive damage to the property, as well as loss of life. The United States Fire Association estimates that over 100,000 commercial building fires occur annually, costing owners upwards of 2.4 billion dollars and claiming nearly 100 lives.

About 42% of these fires are caused by cooking accidents or carelessness. This shows that many of these accidents are entirely preventable. But what about the other 58%? How can a business owner protect against one of the worst disasters imaginable if they can’t prevent the fire from happening in the first place?

Adhering to local fire codes is the first and most obvious step. Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and clearly marked emergency exits can go a long way toward preventing a tragedy like a fire. But if a business owner wants to ensure that they’ve taken every measure possible in order to guard against catastrophe, they should consider installing fire-rated doors throughout their building.

What Are Fire-Rated Doors?

Fire-rated doors are doors that are specially designed to resist fire and smoke for a far longer period of time than a standard door would. There are no doors that are entirely fireproof, but fire-rated doors can withstand high temperatures for extended periods of time without combusting, slowing the spread of the fire and allowing building inhabitants the time they need to exit the building safely. Fire-rated doors can be the difference between life and death for you and your building’s occupants in the event of a catastrophe.

Fire-rated doors can be made to automatically close when smoke has been detected in the area, sealing off certain areas of the building from the spread of the flames. This action is generally triggered by the fire alarm.

The door itself is not the only fire-resistant component, either. Fire-rated doors are outfitted with a special prime that increases their visibility, fire-rated hardware that is specifically designed to keep the door shut as tight as possible, and fire-rated door frames. All of these components, along with the door itself, are what make a doorway fire-resistant.   

How is a Door’s Fire-Rating Determined?

A door’s fire rating is measured by the amount of time it is expected to resist fire without combustion. The average fire rating ranges from about 20 to 90 minutes, but fire-rated commercial metal doors from CDF Distributors can resist fire for up to three hours.

In order to determine a commercial door’s fire rating, the doors are put through rigorous endurance testing. First, they are exposed to heat at up to 1,925 degrees Fahrenheit in order to determine how long they are able to resist combustion. Next, they are blasted by a 30-psi fire hose stream from 20 feet away to ensure that they will not give way to pressure, allowing fire to spread to the other side of the door. Finally, they are tested for their ability to act as smoke barriers.

What Are Fire-Rated Doors Made From? 

Fire-rated doors can be made from various materials, such as fiberglass, metal, or wood. The material a fire-rated door is made from contributes to its fire rating. For example, a fire-rated commercial steel door has a fire rating of three hours, while fire-rated wood doors can provide protection for up to 90 minutes.

There are glass kits for commercial doors that are fire-resistant, as well. The glass in these kits is either wired or a high-temperature glass, which means that they won’t easily succumb to the heat of the flames in the event of a fire. Glass kits also offer extra light in order to increase visibility as a safe exit for the occupants of the building.

Fire-Rated Commercial Doors from CDF Distributors

CDF Distributors offers fire-rated commercial wood, metal, and steel doors, as well as fire-rated glass kits and louvers that can provide added protection from a structural fire. With a large selection of commercial doors that are fire rated from 90 minutes up to three hours, we can help to ensure that your building and its occupants are as safe as possible in the event of a catastrophe.

If you’re interested in learning more about fire-rated doors for your commercial building, contact CDF Distributors today by calling 1-855-769-9895 or e-mail us at [email protected]. We’ll be glad to answer any of your questions!

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