Fire Doors, Life Safety, and Hardware: Avoiding code confusion

‘Stairwell reentry’ refers to the code requirements that allow a building occupant to leave a stairwell during a fi re emergency and fi nd another exit. If stairwell doors do not allow for re-entry and a stairwell becomes impassible, it can jeopardize lives.
‘Stairwell reentry’ refers to the code requirements that allow a building occupant to leave a stairwell during a fire emergency and find another exit. If stairwell doors do not allow for re-entry and a stairwell becomes impassible, it can jeopardize lives.

Per 7.2.1.5.7.1, stair enclosure doors shall be permitted to be equipped with hardware that prevents re-entry to the interior of the building provided the following criteria are met:

  • at least two floors have access;
  • there are not more than four floors between cross-over floors;
  • re-entry is permitted at the top or next to top floor;
  • cross-over floors are marked; and
  • each stair door indicates the location of the nearest cross-over floor.

Per 7.2.1.5.8, if a stair enclosure allows access to a roof, the door must remain locked or allow re-entry to the stair.

Per 7.2.1.5.9.1, the releasing mechanism for any latch or locking device will be located not below 865 mm (34 in.) and not more than 1220 mm (48 in.) above the finished floor.

Per 7.2.1.5.9.2, the releasing mechanism for any latching or locking device will open in one operation (except in residential occupancy—7.2.1.5.9.3).

Per 7.2.1.5.10, where pairs of doors are required in a means of egress, both doors must release by one of the following methods:

  • both leaves must be active when exit devices are used; or
  • self-latching flush bolts on the in-active leaf of non-exit doors.

Per 7.2.1.5.11, no device shall be installed on doors where exit devices are required that restrict or prevent opening the door for the purposes of egress (except as permitted by 7.2.1.6–Special Locking Arrangements).

7.2.1.6.1–Delayed-Egress Locks
Magnetic delay locks or delay-egress exit devices are used in many jurisdictions and are permitted under the 2010 NBC, but not the 2006 OBC. When permitted, delayed mag-locks or delayed-egress exit devices must be connected to the building fire alarm system to release on activation of the alarm or when there is a power interruption. A fire alarm pull station must be installed beside the door, and the door cannot automatically reset after the alarm is turned off. The door must have signage to advise occupants of the delay and the delay cannot be more that 15 seconds (30 seconds in certain approved conditions).

7.2.1.7−Panic Hardware (exit) and Fire Exit Hardware (cUL exit)
Per 7.2.1.7.1, where a door is required to be equipped with panic hardware or fire exit hardware (100 occupants or more) on assembly, educational, and daycare occupancies, the device must meet the following criteria:

  • actuating portion of a push-pad or cross bar will cover not less than half the width of the door;
  • will be mounted not below 865 mm (34 in.) and not more than 1220 mm (48 in.) above the finished floor; and
  • be constructed to release with not more than 66 N (15 lbf) in the direction of egress.
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6 comments on “Fire Doors, Life Safety, and Hardware: Avoiding code confusion”

  1. This is a concise review of some of the issues I see and deal with everyday.
    I would like it to be mandatory for all construction site Supervisor to be trained by an industry expert on NFPA – 80.
    As well if construction companies would accept responsibility to have all fire doors inspected and a written report provided, by an industry credentialed professional, prior to occupancy it would rectify issues prior to them becoming a problem.

    1. Yes, fire doors are to remain closed at all times unless a mechanical hold-open device is installed, and it is activated and released by the fire alarm. This would be tested and reported yearly by a fire alarm technician/fire door inspector. Otherwise, anything manually holding the door ie: wedge, kick down door holder, is not acceptable.

  2. In Ontario, are there rules for condominiums regarding residents’ unit doors? Specifically, I want to know the rules for installing a peep hole. Is it allowed? Can I have more than one? Where is the rule written?

  3. So many mind blowing stupidly written rules about doors.
    You all talk about fire door and safety and one motion latch release and yet you have round knobs on your fire and condo doors. Imagine someone running away from fire with child in hands and trying to open your very “safe”door….. What a joke of rules and regulations.

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