Let’s Talk About Fire Doors

Fire Doors have been evolving since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York during 1911. NFPA-80 (Standard for Fire Doors) gets an update every 3 years and with each edition we see stricter and stricter requirements for Fire Doors. In the 2013 edition, the code calls for all Fire Doors to be inspected yearly by a Certified Person and to maintain records.  In future editions of NFPA-80, I think it is safe to say that the qualifications for this “Certified Person” will be defined more narrowly. So for today’s talk I thought it might be interesting to see what can and cannot be done to a Fire Door in the field.
  1. Only holes 1″ or smaller (like screw holes) can be drilled in the field.
  2. All fasteners, screws, through bolts must be steel based.
  3. No cutting of lite kits; nor major modification of the door in the field.
  4. All hinge shims must be steel. (No paper shims)
  5. On single doors, 1/8″ clearance around the sides and top of the door. 3/4″ max at the threshold.  For pairs, 1/8″ in-between doors.
  6. Any miscellaneous holes need to be filled with either steel screws or Fire Door caulking.
  7. For excessive gaps, there is tape made of a graphite compound.
We are already seeing hospitals inspecting Fire Doors annually as part of the requirement to qualify for Medicare payments.
If you run upon a situation where you are unsure if you can reuse a door or if you need to order a new door, just call us. We will try to help.

Electronic Hardware and Molex Connectors

Electronic hardware can be frustrating and can bleed across many trades: the door hardware person, the aluminum door people, access control, the electrician, and of course the Owner, Architect and Contractor.
We recommend ALWAYS having a coordination meeting with all of the above parties. This needs to be done early on in the construction phase, as the conduit will need to be run and the frames and doors need to be prepared to receive the electronic hardware. Running a raceway in a door at the end of a job can be problematic.
One of the things that we are moving toward is Molex connectors. Molex connectors are just like the plugs at the end of your video cable except these are made for low voltage hardware. They make installation less problematic and more efficient.

Corbin Russwin Mortise lock with Molex connectors.

We find the most problems from electronic hardware is installation, bad connections, etc. By using these connectors it:
  • Shortens install time
  • Requires no special knowledge needed to hook 2 connectors together
  • Makes a stronger connection.
As always if you need us, call us.

Delayed Egress

Delayed Egress

You know the old saying when it rains, it pours.  The last couple of months it has been raining delayed egress locks around here.    Delayed egress locks are basically locks that delay a person from exiting a building for 15-30 seconds.


Examples of where delayed egress locks are used:

–  Hospitals – The egress locks can be interfaced to wireless sensors worn by newborn children so that all exits will lock if a baby is stolen from a hospital room.

–  Retail establishments to deter shoplifting.

–  Airports or other controlled areas where people are held until they clear customs or quarantine stations.

–  Assisted living facilities especially where Alzheimer or Dementia patients are held.

–  In some schools were troubled or violent children are taught.  Often school systems refer to the locks as “Runner Locks”.

Delayed Egress Requirements

Although it depends on the local Authority Having Jurisdiction; the basic rules involving these type of locks are:

1. Upon the application of not more than 15 lbs of pressure the door will enter into an irreversible process which allows egress for not more than 15 seconds.


2. Can only have one delay in the path of egress; we cannot have one at the room and also at the exit.


3. There must be an audible signal near the door and proper signage.


4. The lock must be tied to the fire alarm so if the fire alarm is activated the delayed egress lock allows immediate egress.


5. Alarm must be reset manually with either a key pad or key switch.


6. Upon loss of power, the locks must release immediately and allow free egress.


7. Some Authorities Having Jurisdiction will allow a 30 second delay.  In most of the hardware systems this is field adjustable.



Below is  a picture of a baby’s foot with a exit door control transmitter.


1511 Delayed Egress Features


Hospital Maternity Security:

If the baby is removed from this section of the hospital; this device sends a signal to all the exit doors to enter into the locked state.  Attempts to remove the transmitter locks all exit doors; and if the transmitter falls out (as shown here) an alarm sounds.  The exits only relock when the alarm is reset.

Take Care,

Debbie Purcell, AHC

Access Control – Everyone’s Headache

When it comes to access control, often times this is generally  only brought up during the construction phase; which is way too late to start talking about card readers and electrified hardware.  In an ideal situation, access control is discussed during the design development stage with the Owner, Architect, Integrator and Hardware Consultant.
But first let’s define Access Control.  In the fields of physical security and information security, access control is the selective restriction of access to a place or other resource. The act of accessing may mean consuming, entering, or using. Permission to access a resource is called authorization. Credentials means the type of card which is being used to access the building i.e.  Proxmity, IClass.
In the past we would typically see wall card readers tied to either a Magnetic lock or electric strike with a separate DPS (door position switch) at the head of the frame.  Today manufacturers are producing locks that perform all functions at one location.  For example on one cable run the lockset can receive POE (Power over Ethernet); tell the door position and have request to exit along with the card reader in the lockset itself.  There are card readers that now can read multi credential cards i.e. the type of card technology.  These card readers can read anything from Proximity Readers to Iclass and approximately 54 more.  Some manufacturers have developed cables that are plug and play and dummy proof when hooking up the hardware.  Here’s an illustration of what these Molex connectors look like.  This can help take the biggest headache away improper installation.

As far as construction of new or existing buildings the below are our recommendations to help get the scope covered and be sure that the Owner gets the quality and performance they are looking for.
1.         Always have a coordination meeting between the Owner, Access control integrator, Contractor, Architect, Electrician, Fire Subcontractor, and the Door Hardware People (which includes the door hardware installer).
2.         In the coordination meeting discuss Access control at each door and how the door will function during normal business hours and also how the door will function in case of Power Loss (Fail Safe/ Fail Secure) and if the fire alarm is triggered.
3.         Put all of the hardware (including the aluminum door hardware ) in the 08710 finish hardware specification.  This ensures that the Owner gets all of the same type of electronic hardware.
4.         Make sure that the low voltage hardware is being installed by a factory trained installer.  Usually the door hardware people have installers that are trained at the factory by the manufacturer of the lock.  Many manufacturers will not honor the warranty if the electronic hardware was not installed by a certified installer.
As always, give us a call if you need us,

STC Doors

Sound Transmission Doors are becoming more prevalent in today’s world. We are putting more people in smaller spaces which causes a need for Sound doors.  The chart below gives out the STC ratings for common doors.  I noted on this chart where a typical hollow core metal door & a typical particleboard core wood door would give without any extra gasketing.
Sound Transmission Class
Loud sounds heard faintly or not at all
Very Good
Loud speech heard faintly
Loud speech heard but hardly intelligible
Loud speech understood fairly well
Typical wood door
Normal speech understood easily and distinctly
Typical hollow core door
Very Poor
Low speech audible
  Typical applications for STC doors: Schools (Band or Music Rooms; perhaps cafeteria doors), performance venues, conference rooms, lecture halls, auditoriums  and consulting rooms.  As with fire rated doors, these doors are tested as an assembly (door, frame, hardware including gasketing), so if that particular configuration has not been tested then the STC rating would not be available.  It is important to note that sound doors are only as good as the gasketing surrounding it.  Automatic door bottoms are important.  These come in 3 types surface, full mortise and half mortise. The most effective is the surface applied as this leaves the most mass to stop the sound.
The figure below demonstrates a typical STC 39 door.  You see the decimal level of noise coming to the door and the amount leaving the door.
As a general rule things to know about STC doors when specifying:
1.            Stay away from glass in the doors if you can.  If you cannot; stick with 3 x 33 narrow lites.
2.            Sidelights are also very limited and most likely will not meet the STC requirement.
3.            As with sidelights, pairs are limited in what will meet the STC requirement.
4.            Fire ratings can be a conflict – it is very possible that a fire rated door cannot meet the STC requirements.  In all of the cases I have seen of this the fire rating has taken precedence.
5.            Make sure that the gasketing and automatic door bottoms are properly installed. These will give the greatest insurance that the door performs as desired.
As always call us if you need us.

Fire Code Requirements 101

This picture was taken in 2011 in an old textile plant in Northeast Georgia. These doors were screwed with a hinge to the attached hollow metal frame. What a horror it would have been if a fire or some other emergency had occurred in this plant! In today’s world, this would be punishable by a prison sentence.

08-12-2011 028

1. For any room or space with only one exit, the maximum occupant load should not exceed 50 people.
2. For any room with more than 50 occupants, doors must swing in the direction of egress (i.e.) the doors must swing out of the room.
3. Doors shall be equipped with panic hardware (crash bars).
4. Exits doors must not be equipped with locking hardware that would allow an occupant to be locked inside the room or space. Exit doors should also not be equipped with secondary locking devices, such as a deadbolt or slide bolt (or as picture shows, a hinge).

There are other requirements and generally these change depending on which version of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code the Authority Having Jurisdiction has adopted.

Take Care,

Debbie Purcell, AHC

The “Capitol Crawl”

 Capital-Crawl-1990-2-e1378669142724It’s hard to believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 24 years ago by President George H.W. Bush.
Shortly before the Act was passed, activists with physical  disabilities met in front of the Capitol Building. They shed their crutches,
wheelchairs, power  chairs, and other devices and immediately proceeded to crawl and pull their bodies up all of  the 100 front steps
of the Capitol without warning! As the activists did so many of them  chanted, “ADA Now!” and “Vote Now!”. These activists were
called the “Capitol Crawlers”.  Jennifer Keelan, a second grader from Denver with cerebral palsy was videotaped as she pulled
herself up the steps, using mostly her hands and arms, saying “I’ll take all night if I  have to!”. This direct action is reported
to have “inconvenienced” several senators and to have  pushed them to approve the act.