Have you ever looked at a door and wondered how it would fare in a fire? All doors are not made the same. With that being said, how do fire-rated doors work?
What Is A Fire-Rated Door?
A fire-rated door has been given a fire-resistance rating. The rating gauges how much fire intensity the door will be able to handle and for roughly how long. This is usually combined with other safety measures that comprise a passive fire protection system.
These systems are implemented to slow the spread of smoke and flames between different rooms of a burning building. All fire-rated doors must be installed with the appropriate fire-resistant accessories. This includes the frame along with the hardware used to install the door.
How Do Fire-Rated Doors Operate?
When a fire breaks out in a building, you want to be protected until you can reach a safe location. This is where fire-rated doors come into play. A fire-rated door works as a flame deterrent. The material of the door allows the door to take more punishment from the fire, giving anyone in the building more time to reach safety.
Fires can be unpredictable. Having the means to contain a fire’s destruction in a specific area while not allowing it to spread as quickly is crucial to a safe departure from the building for all parties involved.
What Is A Fire-Rated Door Made From?
A fire-rated door can be constructed from different materials. The most common materials used to produce fire-rated doors are steel, fiberglass, fire-rated glass, and wood. These materials can be stand-alone materials for the fire-rated doors or act in tandem with multiple of these materials. Here is a look at the benefits that each material brings to a fire-rated door:
- Steel Fire-Rated Doors- When you need the most time possible, steel is the go-to for a fire-rated door. Rolling steel fire doors come with a 3-hour fire rating, and steel is the only material able to deliver that amount of time in a fire-rated door.
- Fiberglass Fire-Rated Doors- They have high heat resistance. This allows fiberglass fire-rated doors to withstand high temperatures caused by fires without causing the door to melt or warp.
- Fire-Rated Glass Doors- Fire-rated glass, or fire-resistant glass, is specially designed to withstand higher temperatures for extended periods. They are used to slow the spread of the fire in an emergency scenario. There are different types of fire-rated glass, but they all are designed with safety in mind.
- Wood Fire-Rated Doors- They are specifically designed to resist a raging fire for an amount of time that slows the expansion of fire from one area to the next.
What Makes A Fire Door Different From A Normal Door?
All doors provide us with a certain level of safety and security. The difference is that safety is related to the structure of the door. An average door is not built to withstand the intense heat of a fire for prolonged periods. Fire-rated doors are also designed to keep fires from continuing their path of destruction beyond the threshold of said fire-rated door.
The doors built with a fire rating are specifically designed with safety in mind first. The style is secondary when constructing a fire-rated door instead of the flashier decor of a typical door.
Fire-rated doors, such as rolling steel fire doors, have an added benefit as they can shut down independently during a fire. This allows sections of a building to be closed off from the fire. This allows time for the engulfed area to be extinguished.
When Does A Door Need To Be Fire-Rated?
According to the International Building Code (IBC), a fire-rated door is needed where large crowds are confined in a building. Fire-rated doors are typically installed in hallways and stairways in buildings so that a fire won’t spread to other areas. A regular door would not give the protection needed in the case of an emergency, so a fire door is installed to help prevent further damage.
The genius behind a fire-rated door is often overlooked. These doors are sometimes literally not even seen by an average person. But they are always there waiting for the moment they are called upon to save the day. The next time you see a door in your local place of business, know that it may be the door that saves a life.