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

Importance of the door hardware consultant
Regardless of the quality and craftsmanship of the door hardware being specified, if it is not properly incorporated into a building, the full value goes unrealized. Hardware consultants are well-versed on local and national building codes, the unique needs of various types of facilities, and access control and egress requirements—all the things needed to specify door hardware solutions.

In addition to recommendations, good hardware consultants communicate any issues or areas of concern and work to identify the best solutions. They provide customized solutions that are both esthetically and functionally appropriate.

Hardware consultants also prepare a complete hardware specification, hardware sets, and numerical door index. The consultant should:

  • provide product catalogue cuts and riser diagrams/electrical elevations;
  • assist with product substitution requests, application and product questions/requests for information (RFIs), and the value engineering process;
  • review and comment on hardware submittals;
  • offer certified training on building codes, open architecture, electronic access control, vertical market topics, and mechanical hardware;
  • consult on necessary building codes to ensure fire, life-safety, and accessibility requirements are met;
  • review building programming, product options, and potential conflicts with security issues; and
  • conduct jobsite reviews, pre-installation meetings, and post-installation inspections.

This level of before-project planning will help ensure the building passes its door inspection at the end of the project.

1 The codes discussed in the remainder of this article meet the present needs for building in Ontario. Every other province from Prince Edward Island to Québec to British Columbia could have changes to these and other codes as well. Additionally, while the code development process typically takes years, people frequently fail to follow the process so they are caught unaware once the new code is adopted. In other words, one should not blindly use the information below to quickly spec out the next project. Having a door consultant check out the latest codes is critical. (back to top)

DrewAlan D. McMurtrie, DAHC, is the national specifications manager for Allegion Canada. He is a certified distinguished architectural hardware consultant. McMurtrie is a member of the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI), specifying architectural hardware for design professionals with 28 years of experience in the total openings industry. He can be contacted via e-mail at

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  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?

    1. Iris. Yes a peephole or door viewer is allowed as long as hole diameter does not exceed the maximum of 3/4” or 19mm as stated in NFPA 80

  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.

  4. Can I change a passage door handle to a privacy on a fire rated door? This is for a residential unit in a 3 storey building.

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