Fire doors are a necessity for any commercial building, even if they are seldom or never used — which, of course, is a good thing. For the most part, the fire door is designated as such, with a warning not to go through it or an alarm will sound. However, in an emergency, if you’ve got a crowd of people in your restaurant, store or other public establishment, you want to be sure these doors are always functional..

But fire doors also have another use. Even if you don’t regularly serve the public, fire doors can be the means by which flames or smoke are kept from spreading all over your commercial facility or business. A fire door can improve your emergency safety plan, as well as minimize property damage and your costs. They also serve as the escape exit for you and your employees should a fire break out.

Commercial Building Codes Require Fire Doors

Fire doors are a smart idea, but they are also in general a commercial building requirement. Local, state and national building codes state fire doors as a building standard. Building codes require fire doors in certain areas of a building to help slow the spread of fire and smoke. The specific requirements for fire doors vary depending on the location and type of building, as well as the local building code. The National Fire Protection Association 80 code details safety standards for fire doors. Fire doors are rated in minutes, meaning a rating of 60 means the door should keep smoke and fire out for at least 60 minutes.

Just like regular commercial doors, fire doors vary in design, composition but also have fire ratings. This rating is determined by testing the door in a controlled fire test. The lower the temperature rise rating, the better the door’s performance in a fire. Generally, commercial fire door ratings are 20-minute, 45-minute, and 90-minute. When selecting and installing new doors, keep the fire rating requirements in mind. The label should feature this information, as should the door frame in which the door will be mounted.

Fire doors, like elevators, must be inspected annually following a professional installation. In addition, business owners should be mindful about maintaining good fire door protocol. This can be achieved by not propping fire doors open (it defeats their purpose), and not blocking or locking the doors. You should test the self-closing door hardware monthly to ensure it’s functioning the way it should – after you’ve disarmed the alarms, of course.

These are a different kind of security door, but a security door nonetheless. You should treat them with the same importance of the reinforced doors that protect your building from people. This security door protects your people from the building. Fire doors will deteriorate over time and will need to be replaced to comply with codes. Building owners who do not do so might be found negligent if a fire does occur.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Fire-Secure Door

So then, just as every business decision has more than just a point-and-choose solution, so, too do fire-rated doors for commercial and industrial facilities. These are the main things to have in mind when deciding on your fire door installation:

  • What’s the size of the door? Can personnel see it from far away in the smoke?
  • Where is the door located in reference to the room? Is this the best place for it?
  • What fire rating do you want/require? This will depend on your business, your location, and how quickly your building can be completely evacuated in case of a fire.
  • What’s your budget? If your budget is limited, this is one area where you definitely want to weigh function over design.

When you have the commercial contractors come to install your new fire doors, set up a maintenance plan with them. Whether you’d like to delegate those duties to your facilities maintenance crew or hire the garage door company to do it instead, they’ll have the best advice on the safest way to proceed.