Rolling fire door

How is a rolling fire door inspection different than a swinging door?

So, you are used to inspecting swinging fire doors per NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives as required by NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® and are comfortable with those requirements, but you have come across a rolling fire door. Let’s take a few minutes to review some unique aspects to inspecting a rolling fire door.

Rolling steel fire doors come in various sizes and can be used for different applications. The term rolling steel fire door as used by most manufacturers refers to a product that is intended for use in relatively larger openings. Such products generally utilize larger slat designs and more substantial guides for securing the assembly to the wall. Many manufacturers use the term counter fire door in reference to products that are typically designed for use on smaller openings such as counters. Their construction is similar to the product that is manufactured as a rolling steel fire door except that the assemblies typically use smaller slat designs and formed steel sections for guides. NFPA 80 does not differentiate between these products.

NFPA 80 requires that door openings and their surrounding areas be kept clear of anything that could obstruct or interfere with the free operation of the door. This is something that is very important to pay attention to with rolling fire doors because it is very easy for someone to unknowingly place furniture under a rolling fire door that would obstruct it from closing, which would render the entire assembly useless. Because of this, operators of a facility should be trained to know the areas where they cannot place items that could interfere with the rolling fire door.

Just as with swinging fire doors, rolling fire doors are required to be inspected, tested, and maintained in accordance with NFPA 80, which includes an annual inspection. During this inspection, the rolling door needs to be drop-tested twice. The first drop is done to ensure that the assembly is in proper operation and fully closes, the second drop is to ensure that the entire assembly including the automatic closing device was reset correctly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you check any fusible links, release devices, and any other moveable parts to ensure that they are not painted or coated with materials that could interfere with the operation of the assembly.

Some of the items that need to be inspected are similar to those for a swinging fire door, such as:

  • the label
  • ·open holes, breaks or damage
  • modifications
  • missing or broken parts
  • auxiliary hardware that can interfere with the operation of the door,

In addition, there are other items that need to be checked on a rolling fire door. The first is to make sure that the curtain, barrel, and guides are aligned, level, plumb, and true, this is necessary to ensuring that all the components of the assembly work together properly. Next you will need to ensure that all the expansion clearances outlined in the manufacturers listing are maintained. This is different than a swinging fire door because NFPA 80 does not provide those clearances, they need to be provided from the manufacturer and should be located in the listing.

Mechanisms that are utilized for the automatic operation of the rolling fire door such as smoke detectors or fusible links need to be inspected to ensure that they are operational. If the rolling fire door relies on the fire alarm for operation, it may be required to initiate a fire alarm and confirm that it operates in accordance with the fire alarm input/output matrix. One additional difference between a swinging fire door inspection and a rolling fire door inspection is that you will need to confirm that the rolling fire door has an average closing speed of not less than 6 in./sec (152 mm/sec) or more than 24 in./sec (610 mm/sec), which means you will need to measure the total length the door must close and record the amount of time it takes to close in order to calculate the average time.

Clearly, there are some differences with inspecting a rolling fire door as compared to a swinging fire door. As a result, I recommend taking a look at chapter 5 in NFPA 80 to find all of the specific requirements before performing an inspection.

Let me know in the comments if you have had any experience with inspecting rolling fire doors. Are there any other things that you pay attention to or have come across?

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Shawn Mahoney
Technical Services Engineer with a masters degree and PE in fire protection supporting subjects throughout the association

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