As buildings re-open, fire door and opening protectives ITM is critical to occupant safety
During the pandemic, many ITM programs were put on the back burner as facilities worked to keep building occupants safe from the virus, which included implementing social distancing strategies, meeting the demand for hand sanitizer, and more frequent cleaning, among other new requirements. As buildings begin to transition back to normal operations, it’s a critical time to re-examine and revamp fire door and opening protectives ITM programs to ensure adequate levels of occupant safety, including compliance with NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. NFPA 80 requires that fire doors and other opening protectives such as shutters and windows are operable at all times. Operability of these systems includes opening, closing and latching. Fire doors must be kept closed and latched or arranged to provide automatic closing during the time of a fire. In addition, blocking or wedging of doors in the open position is prohibited, as it violates the required operation and closing feature of the door. These requirements are particularly important to consider as buildings begin to re-open while continuing efforts to keep people safe from the coronavirus. In the beginning of 2020, when the threat of COVID-19 was growing but buildings hadn’t shut down yet, there were reports of doors being propped open so that people wouldn’t have to touch them. As occupancies begin to open, it’s conceivable that these types of scenarios may occur once again. This is a serious concern, as interfering with fire door operation can have grave consequences during a fire. In addition, allowing fire doors to be held open runs a risk of this becoming an accepted practice in the building for any number of situations. Building residents and staff should be taught code-compliant solutions and not get into a habit of overriding fire safe practices. Anything that could prevent the door from closing and latching properly during an emergency condition such as propping the door open with objects, taping the latch, using wood wedges or kick-down door stops, or overriding the closing device, is a violation of the standards. If they are to be effective, fire doors must be not only closed but also held closed. Building fires are capable of generating pressures sufficient to force fire doors open if they are not held closed with enough latching force, thereby rendering the doors incapable of protecting the opening in which they are installed and potentially allowing the fire to spread to an adjacent space and beyond the compartment of origin. To learn more about what’s required to ensure adequate levels of safety around fire doors and opening protectives, sign up to attend “Re-Vamping Your Fire Door and Opening Protectives ITM Program” on Tuesday, June 22, 4-5pm EST. Hosted by Shawn Mahoney and Jen Sisco of NFPA, this session is part of “Keeping Your Informed: The Big Wide World of Building and Life Safety”, a full-day program covering a wide range of issues, challenges, and opportunities facing today’s building and life safety professionals and practitioners. Register by June 18 using the code BLS125 and receive a free, full-day pass for a friend.