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News | August 22, 2019

Complying with Fire and Building Codes

Friday, September 20, 2019 | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Greensboro-High Point Marriott Airport | Greensboro, NC

At this seminar you will: Enhance your understanding of fire
protection and life safety design Explore general requirements and
criteria related to occupancy classifications Understand the National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and North Carolina state codes and
standards Learn about exit access, discharge and other components of
means of egress Discuss fire protection features and equipment
Presented by: Justin Biller, P.E., MCP, CFPS, CLSS-HC,
Emerson Graham + Associates, Charlotte, NC
CreditsProfessional Engineers
6.5 PDHs Architects
6.5 HSW Contact Hours
6.5 AIA LU|HSW International Code Council
.65 CEUs (Fire) Contractors
Non-Credit Continuing Ed.


News | August 19, 2019

Pledge Your Support! Fire Door Safety Week 2019

This year pledge your support to #FireDoorSafetyWeek! We have! Why does it matter? Fire doors accomplish two very important services in the event of a fire.

1. They prevent smoke and fire from spreading and contain the fire to a particular compartment or room. 2. Occupants have longer to escape.


Fire Safety, News | July 24, 2019

Justin Biller- New SFPE Fellow

SFPE has recognized 8 of its members as Fellows for 2019. SFPE Fellows represent a distinguished group of members who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession. Election to Fellow not only recognizes the achievements of fire protection and fire safety engineers as individuals, but also their significant contributions to fire protection engineering and society globally. Out of a total SFPE Membership of over 4,600, there are only 313 fellows. There are 8 members recommended to Fellow by the 2019 Qualifications Subcommittee and approved by the SFPE Board of Directors.

Congratulations Justin Biller, P.E., MSc. FPE, MCP, CFPS, CLSS-HC! Chosen as the new SFPE Fellow, Justin Biller, P.E., is the owner and principal engineer for Emerson Graham & Associates, PLC, established in 2015 as a fire protection engineering and code consulting firm with offices in Roanoke, VA and Charlotte, NC. In addition, Justin is an adjunct faculty lecturer for University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Eastern Kentucky University in each of their respective fire protection engineering technology programs and has taught a host of undergraduate and graduate courses in fire protection systems, building/fire codes, fire dynamics, human behavior in fire and performance-based engineering design. Mr. Biller is also co-founder and technical director of AEGIS, a fire door/barrier management company serving the Mid-Atlantic, and is associated with a forensic consulting firm and volunteer for Roanoke County in work related to post-fire investigations. Justin is a 2014 graduate of the MSc. Fire Protection Engineering program at California Polytechnic State University, and holds registration as a professional fire protection engineer in multiple states on the east coast. He is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) and a Certified Life Safety Specialist for Healthcare Facilities (CLSS- HC) from NFPA. He additionally holds the Master Code Professional (MCP), Certified Building Official (CBO), and Fire Code Specialist (FCS) certifications from ICC. Justin has served on numerous NFPA technical committees including Safety to Life and Alternatives to Life Safety, and likewise on several SFPE committees including the Research, Tools & Methods and Professional Qualifications working on several SFPE guidelines, ABET program evaluation, and the on-going development of the PE exam in fire protection.

Fire Safety, News | February 18, 2019

Complying With Fire & Building Codes

Justin Biller, P.E., CHFM, CLSS-HC, CFPS will be teaching a class in Roanoke, VA-Friday March 29, 2019. Registration is open! Register online at www.halfmoonseminars.org

  • Enhance your understanding of fire protection and life safety design.
  • Explore general requirements and criteria related to occupancy classifications.
  • Understand the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Virginia state codes and standards.
  • Learn about exit access, discharge and other components of means of egress.
  • Discuss fire protection features and equipment.

Read the rest here »

News | December 14, 2018

Scan to Follow Us on Instagram!


See a different side of AEGIS on Instagram. Although we dislike finding doors that are out of compliance, sometimes we just have to shake our heads. Our inspectors find some of the most ingenious examples of how not to repair or modify a fire door. Follow along with us as we share some of our favorite fire door fails. You can follow #FireDoorsSaveLives on Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter to make sure you never miss an update from us.

Directions: Open Instagram & scan the nametag to the left with your smartphone. Then tap FOLLOW. Have fun seeing if you can #SpotTheCodeDeficiency and be the first to offer an approved solution.

Dr. Door | December 2, 2018

Fire Door Inspections- What are we learning?

As published in DHI’s Door Security + Safety magazine – December 2018

With obtaining several years of invaluable experience in performing annual NFPA 80 inspections of fire rated doors, our company has identified several key lessons-learned that we thought would be a valuable resource for door and facility professionals to consider.

Lesson 1

Fire protection door openings in the occupancies we began performing work in were in much worse condition than initially expected.  For example, one facility that our staff surveyed last year assured us ‘we would not find one deficiency in their facility.’  Their best maintenance technician had thoroughly gone through all the doors and signed off that they were 100% compliant.  We inspected 98 doors and of that total number 97 failed the NFPA 80 inspection requirements.  Was the technician lousy at his job?  Not at all – rather he was a fantastic door technician.  What was missing was a proper understanding of the applicable code requirements.  This high rate of failure has been noted at the majority of facilities following initial annual inspections.

Lesson 2

We had the expectation that overall door code-compliance would naturally increase with subsequent annual inspections.  While rates did rise, they were not anywhere close to where they were expected to be. Completing repairs to bring the doors into compliance did not guarantee future compliance.  Doors are a living part of a building in the sense that every day the components are moving, flexing and being stressed.  As hardware reaches the end of its life cycle, inspections accordingly note that things break.  Doors, particularly in heavily traveled portions of the building have increased stress due to occupant use, and at times abuse – in healthcare occupancies where many of our inspections occur, carts, beds and equipment take a heavy toll on fire doors and frames.   While occupants and user groups in a facility consider it ‘just another door’, as professionals we recognize that the door must be ready to serve as a fire barrier when called upon, and it is imperative to recognize the irreplaceable human lives that are depending on these doors to properly function as required by code.

Lesson 3

We have also realized that research into various code application requirements, beyond just NFPA 80 is often necessary.  It is thus imperative to seek out competent expertise in building, fire and life safety codes and standards to assist inspectors in applying the appropriate requirements – this may be through a trusted regulatory authority such as a fire or building official or other code consultant.

We would like to highlight some issues we have encountered in the course of annual inspections so as to help highlight some of the complexities of this process:

  • Does the door have a label? Yes, but did we read it? 
    • What is the barrier rating on the life safety plan? Is it the correct door?
      • A 20-minute door in a 2-hour barrier wall is incorrect – which is likely obvious. How about a 45-minute door in a 1-hour barrier surrounding a medical gas storage room?  A 60-minute door would be required.  At times an inspector needs knowledge of codes beyond NFPA 80 to understand the correct application.
    • What is the required latch throw? (see picture #1)
      • This label has several qualifications if installed in pairs. Is the correct latch bolt installed?
    • Where is the door located? (see picture #2)
      • The label calls for installation in single swing locations only. This label was found on a pair of double egress doors thus voiding the label.
    • Is a gasket required if there is an ‘S’ on the label? (see picture #3)
      • It’s not automatic. Only if required by the life safety, fire or building code.
    • Is the correct hardware installed? (see picture #4)
      • Sometimes it is noted that cylinder handle-sets are installed on doors labeled for use only with surface mounted hardware. The reverse has also been observed, doors with exit hardware that were not labeled for such.
  • Is the hardware installed correctly?
    • What does the manufacturer require? (see picture #5)
      • Even though the inside of a 90-minute door looks like drywall, plastic anchors are not approved to install exit hardware. Often it is noted that drywall screws or #8 zip screws are holding on hardware where #12 or ¼” through bolts are required.
    • Why all the empty fastener locations? (see picture #6)
      • All the required fasteners must be installed. This strike begs a few more questions:  The Von Duprin 499F strike is specified when surface vertical rod hardware is installed less bottom rod and necessitates that there is a second part that is installed above the top latch on the door.  With it being missing, additional questions are subsequently raised, such as whether there is a fire pin installed, or not?  If this is a modification to existing hardware?  Does the hardware manufacturer allow the modification?  Does the door manufacturer?  Have you kept any documentation to show the AHJ that it is an approved modification?
    • How should it be installed? (see picture #7)
      • This is an access door in a 2-hour shaft. The four 1-1/4” drywall screws that ‘anchored’ this door were not into any framing! Caulk was literally all that held this door in place.  Also notice the huge gap in the drywall around the door frame.  This installation failed.
  • Is this an approved modification?
    • Can a double acting door be converted? (see picture #8)
      • Welded steel angle was added to make a stop. In addition, the doors had terrible clearance issues due to the rounded edges of double acting doors.  Is this acceptable?  The real question is, how was the door and frame tested and can it be proved that the doors will survive for the required fire endurance?
    • Can we extend a door with a non-compliant bottom clearance? (see picture #9)
      • A small piece of wood was attached to the bottom of the door. It was hard to spot due to a kick-plate and mop-plate installed on either side of the door covering the extra piece of wood.  This is not an approved repair.
    • Can we field modify a frame for electrified hardware? (see picture #10)
      • This frame was modified for an electric strike, then had the strike removed. It really shows why field-modification to a frame for this type of hardware is not advisable and will likely not be accepted by the manufacturer.  This frame has been severely weakened by the modification.
    • Can we add parts to make it work? (see pictures 11, 12, 13 and 14)
      • The adage, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ certainly holds true in door repair, and nowhere does this seem to be truer than in the installation of magnetic hold-open devices. They are obviously not compliant solutions, but one has to appreciate the ingenuity.
    • Can we add extra fasteners? (see picture 15)
      • One can almost hear the installer saying, ‘I’m going to get one of these screws to grab something.’ Again, the question becomes has this hinge been tested this way?  Also, has the door been damaged beyond use?  Drilling 8 holes in the hinge stile would severely compromise its st
    • Need a new lock?(see picture 16)
      • Remove the mortise lock, install an edge guard and new cylinder lock. As one of my instructors at DHI would say, ‘This results in a pile of fire wood.’  This type of modification voids the door label.
  • Is this an approved application?
    • Can an edge guard fix a clearance problem? (see picture 17)
      • We have seen door edge guards installed to solve clearance issues. While not listed to solve clearance issues, it may be a solution for a small clearance issue (ask your AHJ).  A couple questions though… Is it rated for use on a fire door?  Is it installed per the manufacturer’s instructions? Meaning, we cannot add additional shims behind the edge guard to close a larger clearance issue.  The final question has to do with the picture. Does the installation of the edge guard affect how far the latch engages the strike?  Clearance issues are not just about how much smoke will get past. It is also about whether or not the latch bolt will stay engaged during a fire.  If you have ever seen a video of a fire door test (SDI has one on YouTube) you will realize that the doors pull, bow and twist.  If the latch bolt is not long enough, it will allow the door to pop open during a fire.
    • Its stainless steel, can it be used? (see picture 18)
      • This is a beautiful frame protector. Is it rated for use on a fire door?
    • What can I install on my door? (see pic 19 and 20)
      • We see this often. A mailbox is needed.  A coat hook is needed.  Some protection for the hardware is needed.  We would need to find a product that is rated for use on a fire door.
    • Creativity at its best. (see picture 21)
      • This one always makes me smile. Creative, yes.  Compliant, no.
  • Is it damaged beyond use?
    • How to repair a large hole in the frame? (see picture 22)
      • We see this often. A magnetic lock is removed leaving behind a large hole in the frame.  How would you repair this?
    • I must hold this door open. (see picture 23)
      • I sense a battle between the janitors and the maintenance staff. Have the welds broken in the door?  Have the clearances been affected? Have the hinge pockets been over stressed and bent or broken?
    • Looks like a beautiful installation. (see picture 24)
      • Due to some clearance issues our technician had to remove the hinge. That’s when we found out that the hinge pocket was broken, and the edge guard was all that was ‘holding’ the door together.  We have to ensure that any repairs we do will survive a fire and the only way to do that is to test it.  We need to know when to say, ‘replace it’.
    • Can I reuse a door we have in storage? (see picture 25 and 26)
      • While it is completely acceptable to reuse doors in good condition, we need to make sure all the hardware on the door will match the existing frame conditions. These types of modifications are not permitted.
    • What to do with a rusted frame? (see picture 27)
      • Obviously, this frame will need to be replaced due to rust damage. My real question is what are they cleaning the floors with?

The inspectors at our company had a good time putting these examples together.  It is a real testament to the creativity of the maintenance staff at these facilities.  While some of these repairs would be just fine on a non-rated door, they will cause problems on a fire protection rated door opening.  Compliant fire doors are a huge part of our facilities fire protection. If just one door does not perform as specified, many lives could be put at risk, and as such it is critical that we do all we can to make sure our fire doors are ready to do their job.

We can truly see the wisdom in this new code requirement for annual inspections.  While in the beginning we may have chafed or balked at the thought of this new requirement, our compliance rates are showing that we needed to do better.

I hope these examples help highlight that an effective inspection really requires three components:  1. Thorough knowledge of the code and how it applies to your facility, 2. Thorough knowledge of proper installation and application of hardware on rated doors and frames, and 3. The ability to effectively communicate what the deficiencies are and what possible solutions there may be.  If you find that your facility could use help with inspections, find one of the many DHI trained and certified FDAI’s (Fire & Egress Door Assembly Inspector).  Their experience and knowledge will be an invaluable resource for you.

-Mark Waller, FDAI I Managing Director of AEGIS

Dr. Door, Videos | November 28, 2018

Shop With AEGIS!

Now you can buy your very own AEGIS fire door clearance gauge from Dr. Door! Click on SHOP and add yours to the CART. Follow us on IG and watch for coupon codes.

Fire Safety, Videos | November 19, 2018

The 13 Criteria of a Fire Door Inspection

What does a fire door inspection include? Watch this short video to learn about the 13 criteria of a fire door inspection.


News, Videos | September 28, 2018

A Code Update that’s a Boost to Building Owners!

A Code Update that Provides a Boost to Building Owners.

Doors are a major concern for building owners and facility managers. Ongoing maintenance of doors and architectural hardware represents a significant cost margin to building owners and nowhere is this truer than for healthcare facility and engineering managers where building footprints are vast – often in excess of 1 million square feet or more. Maintaining all doors in large facilities is always a challenge, but of even higher concern for healthcare engineers is fire and smoke barrier management, wherein door maintenance is a critical component. This point is not lost on a highly accomplished architect, Amanda Adams AIA, who has spent much of her career in significant restoration projects – she has noted first- hand how important fire and smoke door assemblies become in sustaining code compliance, providing a safe and healthy environment for building occupants and in achieving her overall architectural vision for a space. Ms. Adams highlighted this point to us at AEGIS, wherein she states,

“The foremost requirement of architecture is shelter. This ranks above aesthetics and creative efforts. All building occupants – users, visitors, tenants, residents – expect a building to provide shelter from the elements. At times, emergency situations arise that cause a building to offer shelter or protection from internal threats (often this is a fire threat)….whether that be protect in place or provide a safe exiting scenario. Passive life safety systems hold top priority in life safety; active systems increase safety and provide additional time. Properly functioning fire doors are a critical basic component to the passive system. A door must fit properly in its frame. Closing hardware must work properly. Positive latching hardware completes the barrier.”

Amanda Adams, Architect

The added strain on fiscal responsibilities for healthcare facilities to “do more with less” heightens theneed to challenge installers to do the work right the first time – it is often noted on our annual inspections of fire and smoke door assemblies that the ongoing challenges to maintenance stem from improper installation (i.e., improperly plumbed door frame and jamb, incorrect or insufficient hardware, incorrect door or glazing type, etc.).

According to the Door Security and Safety Foundation, although doors only represent 2 percent of a typical construction budget, more than 30 percent of punch-list items are on average door-related. It is therefore the opinion of many within the industry that it is in the best interest of building owners to verify fire and smoke doors are installed properly from the outset – a determination that committee members of NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives also found imperative. In its most current published editions (2016 and 2019), NFPA 80 prescribes in section 5.2.1 that “upon completion of the installation” these assemblies are to be inspected and tested.

Here at AEGIS we believe as well that a comprehensive survey of door installation during construction benefits the building designer and can dramatically decrease ongoing maintenance costs associated with fire and smoke door assemblies. We are here to help you implement this on your next project and can work with your design team through specification and installation through final punch-out.

What is Fire System Commissioning (FCx)

NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems delineates that the commissioning and
integrated testing process would include both active and passive components of fire protection systems. Commissioning is a procedure of verifying a quality process from design inception through development and construction and even extends through the life of the building by ongoing maintenance and operations. Passive fire protection systems, including fire and smoke rated door assemblies, serve as a primary component for most building life safety systems with varying degrees of complexity dependent as such things as occupancy and building geometry. Fire and smoke rated doors are often integrated with fire and life safety systems such as fire alarm, sprinkler, smoke control and emergency electrical systems, and it thus becomes imperative for the fire commissioning team (FCxT) to include qualified fire door commissioning agents (Cx) to be employed. Along with NFPA 3, NFPA also developed NFPA 4, Standard for the Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing to work in concert with the recommended practices of commissioning in NFPA 3 to accomplish this task.

AEGIS with its partnerships with engineers and architects, has the practical experience and expertise to support your commissioning team with passive fire protection system components.

– Justin B. Biller, P.E., CHFM, CLSS-HC, CFPS | AEGIS Technical Director

Ask The Code Weenie! | September 26, 2018

Do Corridor Doors Require Smoke Gasketing in Healthcare Occupancies?

Do corridor doors require smoke gasketing in healthcare occupancies (which are classified as Group I-2 under the International Building Code® (IBC)?

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 final question – refer to previous articles in the series for questions 1 and 2.

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 – do corridor doors require smoke gasketing in healthcare occupancies (which are classified as Group I-2 under the International Building Code (IBC), in general the following code excerpts from the model codes are included below:

the following code excerpts are considered:

Corridor Doors – NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2012

“* Construction of Corridor Walls. Corridor walls shall be permitted to terminate at the ceiling where the ceiling is constructed to limit the transfer of smoke. No fire resistance rating shall be required for corridor walls.* Corridor walls shall form a barrier to limit the transfer of smoke.”

“* Corridor Doors.* Doors protecting corridor openings shall be constructed to resist the passage of smoke, and the following also shall apply:

(1) Compliance with NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, shall not be required.

(2) A clearance between the bottom of the door and the floor covering not exceeding 1 in. (25 mm) shall be permitted for corridor doors.
(3) Doors to toilet rooms, bathrooms, shower rooms, sink closets, and similar auxiliary spaces that do not contain flammable or combustible material shall not be required to be constructed to resist the passage of smoke.”

As regards the application of NFPA 101 requirements for corridor walls and doors, it is important to recognize the distinction that this code makes from IBC, wherein it does not require corridor walls to be smoke partitions – note the explanatory annex language below specific to this issue:

“A. While a corridor wall is required to form a barrier to limit the transfer of smoke, such a barrier is not required to be either a smoke barrier or a smoke partition — two terms for which specific Code definitions and requirements apply.”

It is also important to note specifically, that NFPA 101 indicates that gasketing is NOT REQUIRED for corridor doors – note this explanatory language below:

“A. Gasketing of doors should not be necessary to achieve resistance to the passage of smoke if the door is relatively tight-fitting.”

Corridor Doors – International Building Code, 2012

“407.3 Corridor wall construction. Corridor walls shall be constructed as smoke partitions in accordance with Section 710.
407.3.1 Corridor doors. Corridor doors, other than those in a wall required to be rated by Section 509.4 or for the enclosure of a vertical opening or an exit, shall not have a required fire protection rating and shall not be required to be equipped with self-closing or automatic-closing devices, but shall provide an effective barrier to limit the transfer of smoke and shall be equipped with positive latching. Rollerlatches are not permitted. Other doors shall conform to Section 716.5.”

“710.5.2.2 Smoke and draft control doors. Where required elsewhere in the code, doors in smoke partitions shall meet the requirements for a smoke and draft control door assembly tested in accordance with UL 1784. The air leakage rate of the door assembly shall not exceed 3.0 cubic feet per minute per square foot (0.015424m3/(s • m2)) of door opening at 0.10 inch (24.9 Pa) of water for both the ambient temperature test and the elevated temperature exposure test. Installation of smoke doors shall be in accordance with NFPA 105.”


The IBC again is stricter in its application than NFPA 101 is for this requirement – note the ICC commentary for this section which clearly identifies corridor doors are to meet UL 1784:

“Only doors in smoke partitions that are required elsewhere in the code to be smoke and draft control doors must comply with section. Section 407.3.1 requires corridor doors in Group I-2 to ‘limit the transfer of smoke’; therefore, those doors must meet this section.”

As such, IBC does require corridor doors in I-2 occupancies to meet UL 1784. This results in the effect that life safety surveys involving the use of NFPA 101, 2012 cannot technically mandate the installation of smoke gasketing either for existing or new construction involving corridor 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

Read the rest here »

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