Fire doors are an important part of your business’s fire protection system, as they can help stop or slow the spread of flames, heat, and smoke from one area of a building to another. Different types of fire doors include:
- Rolling steel doors
- Horizontal sliding doors
- Vertical sliding doors
- Swinging doors
Whatever doors your facility uses, it’s important to use them properly and perform inspections and general maintenance regularly. A door that malfunctions, whether as a result of human or technical error, can increase the risk of spreading fires and potentially lead to property damage and injuries. Here are a few common reasons why fire doors do not work as intended and ways to correct them:
- Doors are propped open: Keep doors closed at all times. For doors in heavy-traffic areas, install automatic closing devices so employees do not need to remember to close them. Never use wedges, door stops, ropes, or wires to prop doors open, as these temporary solutions can compromise the effectiveness of a properly operating door.
- Doors are obstructed: Maintain clear surrounding areas so doors can close completely. Boxes, carts, inventory, and equipment stored nearby can prevent doors from closing and exacerbate the spread of a fire if they ignite. Store items at least six feet away from a door’s opened and closed positions. Construct guards, post signs, or paint lines to indicate which areas must remain clear.
- Doors are worn or broken: Inspect doors regularly and repair and replace damaged parts immediately. Hinges, catches, binders, hangers, cables, and rollers are all subject to wear. Also check for missing latches, improper counterbalance, inadequate lubrication, or dry rot (in older doors with wooden cores). Any of these issues can cause a fire door malfunction.
Maintenance and Inspection Practices
Testing, inspections, and regular maintenance are essential to help ensure your fire doors are in good working condition. Use the following guidelines to help maintain your fire doors and safeguard your facility:
- Conduct testing annually, along with your fire and smoke detectors, to confirm fire doors close automatically and work properly. More frequent testing may be needed if doors are in critical locations or subject to unusual conditions. Refer to manufacturer instructions on the correct way to test your specific fire doors.
- Inspect each fire door to confirm that:
- The door is free of holes, breaks, or other signs of excessive wear and tear.
- No door parts are broken or missing.
- The door assembly follows manufacturer guidelines and has not been modified.
- Moving parts such as guides, bearings, hinges, latches, and pulleys are well lubricated.
- The door’s automatic closure device is working properly. For example, check that magnets or fusible links, which enable doors to close when activated, are clean, not painted, in the proper location, and in good condition.
- The listing label (which includes the door’s make, model and serial numbers, and rating), is visible and includes the approved testing lab.
- Consult your door’s manufacturer for additional inspection information, as instructions vary depending on your fire door type. For example, for rolling steel doors, check spring tension, guides, and gears. For swinging doors, check latches and counterbalance or door closure hardware.
Train employees on how to use your facilities’ fire doors and conduct regular (daily, if needed) inspections. Inspection training should include information on corrective actions to take if adjustments are needed. Also encourage employees to promptly report damage so you can make necessary repairs. A fire can cripple your business, causing financial strain, business interruption, and loss of inventory. By regularly maintaining and inspecting your fire doors, you can help keep them operating properly and minimize damage to your business in the event of a fire.