There is often confusion encircling this question with facility managers, designers as well as even fire door inspectors. To what is often perceived as ambiguity in the codes related to this subject, this item is routinely missed during design and construction, which often leads to further confusion during the life cycle of the building that a facility manager also faces. The question is multi-faceted as there is various criterion to consider.
Through a series of questions answered, we intend to discuss 3 of the more common questions that we have noted in our work with fire and smoke door code compliance. In this series we cover our first question, with the other 2 questions to follow shortly in subsequent discussions.
- When is edge sealing specifically required for fire protection rated doors?
- Do fire and smoke rated doors require smoke gasketing in healthcare occupancies which are classified as Group I-2 under the International Building Code® (IBC)?
- Do corridor doors require smoke gasketing in healthcare occupancies (which are classified as Group I-2 under the International Building Code® (IBC)?
For a general listing classification of protection methods, reference to UL is helpful in understanding the parameters of installation regarding Gasketing and Edge-sealing Materials for Fire Doors, Positive-pressure Tested, GVYI
To address the question – when edge sealing is specifically required for fire protection rated door openings, in general the following code excerpt from the model code adopted throughout most of the US – the International Cod Council’s International Building Code:
Edge Sealing for Fire Doors – International Building Code® (IBC), 2012
“716.5.1 Side-hinged or pivoted swinging doors. Fire door assemblies with side-hinged and pivoted swinging doors shall be tested in accordance with NFPA 252 or UL 10C. After 5 minutes into the NFPA 252 test, the neutral pressure level in the furnace shall be established at 40 inches (1016 mm) or less above the sill.”
While the UL 10C test method referenced in this section specifically addresses testing for positive pressure on during burn tests for doors, the NFPA 252 test standard does not. Positive pressure testing, however is still mandated by this section since the IBC section specifically establishes a neutral plane height (first established under UBC 7-2) for testing purposes.
Positive pressure testing is required to more closely mimic real fire conditions -as heat develops within an enclosure, pressure begins to develop within the compartment relative to the pressure outside of the room. The pressure continues to increase until the availability of oxygen relative to fuel load causes the fire to reach equilibrium. The transition between the positive and negative pressure in a compartment is referred to as the neutral pressure plane.
In the positive pressure zone in the upper part of the compartment smoke and hot gases are forced through any openings in the doors assembly. In laboratory furnaces implementing fire door testing, the neutral plane is achieved through controlled venting. By establishing the neutral plane at 40” or less, it subjects the door to positive pressures on the door forcing flames and heated gas through gaps and clearances in the tested door assembly.
As such, edge sealing performs a critical function in protecting door clearances and gaps – typically success of the positive pressure tests relies on edge sealing to be in place during the tests, and as such is required to be installed in the field as part of the assembly where required to meet IBC section 716.5.1. This requirement, thus applies to new construction required to meet IBC, and this has been a requirement in the 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009 codes previous since its inception.
This provision would apply to all IBC required fire doors. NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, however does not have the same requirement – note excerpts below from the 2012 edition which is currently adopted for enforcement in many healthcare facilities throughout the US.
Edge Sealing for Fire Doors – NFPA® 101, Life Safety Code®, 2012
“126.96.36.199 Openings required to have a fire protection rating by Table 188.8.131.52 shall be protected by approved, listed, labeled fire door assemblies and fire window assemblies and their accompanying hardware, including all frames, closing devices, anchorage, and sills in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, except as otherwise specified in this Code.”
“184.108.40.206* Fire protection ratings for products required to comply with 8.3.3 shall be as determined and reported by a nationally recognized testing agency in accordance with NFPA 252, Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Door Assemblies; ANSI/UL 10B, Standard for Fire Tests of Door Assemblies; ANSI/UL 10C, Standard for Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assemblies; NFPA 257, Standard on Fire Test for Window and Glass Block Assemblies; or ANSI/UL 9, Standard for Fire Tests of Window Assemblies.”
NFPA 101 section 220.127.116.11 does not specifically require compliance with test standard UL 10C and as such allows compliance with NFPA 252 or UL10B also which do not require the positive pressure testing parameter. This results in the effect that life safety surveys involving the use of NFPA 101, 2012 cannot technically mandate the installation of edge sealing either for existing or new construction involving fire doors. The same would not hold true for fire prevention inspections conducted under the International Fire Code® for facilities constructed to meet either the IBC or the legacy Uniform Building Code (UBC) – previously adopted throughout Western Pacific regions of the US.
What strategy should facility managers take about existing fire doors where edge sealing is not equipped on fire doors in their facility? Like so many things in code compliance, the answer depends on the specifics of your individual facility. If you need any assistance in understanding this parameter for your facility, AEGIS has fire protection specialists here to help you with code consulting services and inspection services that can help maintain compliance with fire door strategies. What about smoke barrier doors – do the codes say I need to install gasketing on these doors? This question will be answered in our next article of this series.
– Justin B. Biller, P.E., CHFM, CLSS-HC, CFPS | AEGIS Technical Director