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Do Fire and Smoke Rated Doors Require Smoke Gasketing in Healthcare Occupancies?

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)?

IN SHORT:

While NFPA 80 nor NFPA 105 specifically state fire doors and smoke doors require smoke gasketing, the key is to check the applicable code or standard, (i.e., International Building Code), for a limitation on air infiltration, typically a reference to UL 1784, Air Leakage Tests of Door Assemblies, as the test standard, and this would only be required on doors contained within a smoke barrier not part of a cross-corridor assembly.  For fire doors and smoke doors in certain locations, the limit for air infiltration is 3 cfm per square foot or less as tested at a pressure of 0.10 inch of water (0.02 m3/(s · m2) or less as tested at a pressure of 0.02 kPa)—for most door sizes, this cannot be achieved without smoke gasketing. The requirements for smoke doors and fire doors depend on where they are used. As such, IBC only requires fire rated smoke barrier doors 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 smoke barrier doors.

 The same would not hold true for fire prevention inspections conducted under the International Fire Codeâ 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.

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 fire and smoke rated doors require smoke gasketing in healthcare occupancies which are classified as Group I-2 under the International Building Code, in general the following code excerpt from the model code adopted throughout most of the US – the International Cod Council’s International Building Code:

Smoke Barrier Doors – NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2012

“18.3.7.6* Doors in smoke barriers shall be substantial doors, such as 13⁄4 in. (44 mm) thick, solid-bonded wood-core doors, or shall be of construction that resists fire for a minimum of

20 minutes, and shall meet the following requirements…”

The exception is foremost there to recognize that a smoke barrier door in a health care occupancy (I-2 occupancy) facility is not a true fire door, since both self-closing and latching aren’t required, nor is a rating required (20 minute OR substantial door is all that is needed), per NFPA 101 section 18.3.7.6.   Smoke barrier doors are generally not rated and not completely smoke-tight, but have been proven to be effective as resisting the passage of smoke and are not required to meet the provisions of NFPA 105 for smoke doors. Note also commentary from the NFPA 101 handbook regarding this:

“Doors in smoke barriers are not generally required to have a fire protection rating, unless the applicable occupancy chapter requires the smoke barrier itself to have a fire resistance rating. Therefore, any door that resists the passage of smoke, even a hollow-core wood door or glass door, is acceptable, provided that it is tight-fitting, unless the door is required to be smoke leakage–rated as specified by 8.5.4.2. Stops at the head and sides of the door help resist the passage of smoke. Where a pair of doors is used, it is recommended (and required for cross-corridor door assemblies in new health care occupancies) that they open in opposite directions from each other so that rabbets, bevels, or astragals can be provided at the meeting edges without the use of coordinators.

Doors in smoke barriers, although not the equivalent of fire doors and not completely smoke tight, are effective in restricting the spread of smoke and reducing drafts, which might otherwise spread fire rapidly. Where an occupancy chapter requires the smoke barrier to have a fire resistance rating, a 20-minute fire protection–rated door assembly in a smoke partition should be accepted as a reasonable barrier. It has been shown through tests that the commonly used 1¾ in. (44 mm) thick solid-bonded wood-core door assembly can be expected to fail in fire tests in 22 minutes to 24 minutes, but it has performed well in actual fires when closed.31 The maximum clearance under the bottom of a new smoke barrier door is limited to ¾ in. (19 mm) as indicated in 8.5.4.1; this limit is new to the 2012 edition of the Code and is intended to be consistent with the clearance permitted by NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, for fire doors.”

NFPA 101 only requires doors in areas of refuge (accessible exit) to meet UL 1784 – it does not require smoke barrier doors to meet this prescriptive requirement; reference 8.2.2.4 below along with Handbook commentary:

8.2.2.4 Where door assemblies are required elsewhere in this Code to be smoke leakage–rated in accordance with 8.2.2.4, door assemblies shall comply with all of the following:

(1)They shall be tested in accordance with ANSI/UL 1784, Standard for Air Leakage Tests for Door Assemblies.

(2) The maximum air leakage rate of the door assembly shall be 3.0 ft3/min/ft2 (0.9 m3/min/m2) of door opening at 0.10 in. water column (25 N/m2) for both the ambient and elevated temperature tests.

(3) Door assemblies shall be installed in accordance with NFPA 105, Standard for Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives.

(4) Door assemblies shall be inspected in accordance with 7.2.1.15.”

“Minimum criteria for air leakage rates of door assemblies are specified by 8.2.2.4 to provide a smoke-tight assembly. However, the criteria in 8.2.2.4 are mandatory only when referenced by another section of the Code — such as in Chapters 12 through 42. New fire doors serving areas of refuge are required to meet the 8.2.2.4 air-leakage rate criteria (see 7.2.12.3.4.1). Also, new to the 2012 edition, doors that are required to meet 8.2.2.4 must be inspected at least annually in accordance with 7.2.1.15 as specified by 8.2.2.4(4).  NFPA 105, Standard for Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives, acknowledges that no nationally recognized test for the measurement of smoke leakage exists. However, NFPA 105 notes that ANSI/UL 1784, Standard for Air Leakage Tests of Door Assemblies, can be used to measure ambient and warm air leakage rates of door assemblies.

ANSI/UL 1784, which is also referenced in 8.2.2.4, should determine satisfactory performance if recognized design features are also taken into account, such as close-fitting assemblies, limited deflections, and the use of gasketing and sealing materials. The document then provides performance criteria for determining maximum air leakage rates expressed in air volume per time per area of door opening.”

Smoke Barrier Doors – International Building Code, 2012

Note under IBC, this exception applies only to cross-corridor doors.  There may be other   door openings in the smoke barrier that must comply with IBC 709.5 and 716.5.3.1 which specifically require the air leakage resistance per UL 1784.

709.5 Openings. Openings in a smoke barrier shall be protected in accordance with Section 716.

Exceptions:

  1. In Group I-2 and ambulatory care facilities, where doors are installed across corridors, a pair of opposite- swinging doors without a center mullion shall be installed having vision panels with fire-protection- rated glazing materials in fire-protection-rated frames, the area of which shall not exceed that tested. The doors shall be close fitting within operational tolerances, and shall not have undercuts in excess of 3/4-inch, louvers or grilles. The doors shall have head and jamb stops, astragals or rabbets at meeting edges and shall be automatic-closing by smoke detection in accordance with Section 716.5.9.3. Where permitted by the door manufacturer’s listing, positive-latching devices are not required.”

716.5.3.1 Smoke and draft control. Fire door assemblies shall also 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 (0.01524 m3/s • m2) of door opening at 0.10 inch (24.9 Pa) of water for both the ambient temperature and elevated temperature tests. Louvers shall be prohibited. Installation of smoke doors shall be in accordance with NFPA 105.

In this way, IBC appears to be more restrictive than NFPA 101 with regards to smoke barrier doors not forming a cross-corridor assembly, which is not written in the same way and does not contain the same requirement – note A.18.3.7.8 from NFPA 101 below for comparison:

“A.18.3.7.8 Smoke barriers might include walls having door openings other than cross-corridor doors. There is no restriction in the Code regarding which doors or how many doors form part of a smoke barrier. For example, doors from the corridor to individual rooms are permitted to form part of a smoke barrier. ….”

IBC also establishes specific requirements for listing and labeling requirements as well for doors meeting the requirements of UL 1784:

“716.5.7.3 Smoke and draft control door labeling requirements. Smoke and draft control doors complying with UL 1784 shall be labeled in accordance with Section 716.5.6.1 and shall show the letter “S” on the fire-rating label of the door. This marking shall indicate that the door and frame assembly are in compliance when listed or labeled gasketing is also installed.”

Conclusion

So, while NFPA 80 nor NFPA 105 specifically state fire doors and smoke doors require smoke gasketing, the key is to check the applicable code or standard, (i.e., International Building Code), for a limitation on air infiltration, typically a reference to UL 1784, Air Leakage Tests of Door Assemblies, as the test standard, and this would only be required on doors contained within a smoke barrier not part of a cross-corridor assembly.  For fire doors and smoke doors in certain locations, the limit for air infiltration is 3 cfm per square foot or less as tested at a pressure of 0.10 inch of water (0.02 m3/(s · m2) or less as tested at a pressure of 0.02 kPa)—for most door sizes, this cannot be achieved without smoke gasketing. The requirements for smoke doors and fire doors depend on where they are used. As such, IBC only requires fire rated smoke barrier doors 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 smoke barrier doors.

 The same would not hold true for fire prevention inspections conducted under the International Fire Codeâ 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


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