Most business owners don't consider fire to be a viable threat. But the truth is that fires rank among the top catastrophes that can threaten a business each year.
When it comes to protecting your business, there is only so much protection that a fire extinguisher can provide. A fire-rated door can help to prevent the fire from spreading throughout your property. These doors also help to stop the spread of smoke and toxic gases throughout a facility.
In short, fire-rated doors protect your livelihood and offer peace of mind. But how beneficial are commercial fire doors and should you invest in one or more for your property?
What is a Fire Door?
Fire-rated doors are specifically designed to withstand a fire's heat. Generally, the exterior and frames are metal -- although there are other kinds of fire-rated doors -- and they are often hollow on the inside.
Before going on the market, each brand of fire door must go through rigorous testing to ensure that they are able to meet the NFPA 252 standards.
Safety Requirements for Fire-Rated Doors
Doors are endurance tested to determine how they react to extreme heat. Doors that remain intact in 1,925-degree heat receive a certification for the number of minutes that they were able to perform to expectations.
After passing the endurance test, doors must pass the hose stream test. In this test, a fire hose delivers 30 psi of water from a distance of 20 feet.
Some fire-rated doors are also required to pass an air leakage test. This determines the rate of smoke infiltration in the event of a fire.
Assemblies claiming to limit the transmission of heat must also pass a temperature rise test. Ratings indicate the highest rise in ambient temperature on the non-fire side. Temperature rise ratings are either 250 degrees, 450 degrees, or 650 degrees.
Every fire door on the market must come with a permanent label attached. The label includes the following information:
- Fire exit hardware information
- Temperature rise rating
- Endurance test rating
All related hardware must also come with similar labels for ratings.
Benefits of a Fire-Rated Commercial Door
Integrating a fire door into your fire safety strategy offers a multitude of benefits. When they are installed properly, these doors contain fire, smoke, and toxic gases for a period of time. This containment helps minimize damages to your property and assets, while ensuring that your employees are able to evacuate safely in the event of an emergency.
Because they are tougher than most commercial doors, fire-rated doors provide the added benefit of heightened security, too.
Businesses with Elevated Fire Risk
There are an estimated half a million fires in the United States each year. Almost 120,000 of those affect non-residential properties. These numbers suggest that every business owner should consider investing in fire-rated doors.
Facilities with higher fire risks include:
- Businesses that are equipped with a kitchen, including schools, daycares, nursing homes, hotels, and restaurants
- Facilities that house a lot of electrical equipment
- Companies that cater to vulnerable people, including healthcare and educational facilities
With the variety of fire doors on the market today, you no longer have to sacrifice ambience for safety.
Best Locations for Fire Door Installation
Many commercial buildings now include outer firewall protection. If your business' firewall has a door, you need a fire-rated access door.
Other locations that should include fire-rated doors include:
- Doorways marked with exit signs
- Entryways that provide access to halls, corridors, stairwells, and elevator shafts
- Doorways that serve as building dividers or protect hazardous materials
This ensures protection and easy emergency evacuation.
Implementing a Fire Safety Strategy
Many business owners have questions about proper usage for their new fire doors. Let's take a look at some of the most common concerns.
Can I Lock My Fire-Rated Doors?
No, you cannot lock or block your doors. Doing so may violate safety codes and put your employees at risk.
Do I Keep My Doors Open or Closed?
Propping a fire door open reduces its effectiveness, jeopardizing your workforce's safety. If an open doorway is important to you, invest in a door that closes automatically during an emergency.
How Long Will My New Fire Door Last?
Fire-resistant doors can deteriorate over time. To maximize your investment, follow the recommended maintenance and repair schedule. You should also have your fire doors inspected annually.
If you are in need of a fire-rated commercial door or have questions about which type will best suit your needs, contact the team at CDF Distributors. Our professionals are here to help!