Fire Doors 101
Testing, Certification, and Beyond
29 September 2020
Fire doors play an important part in the fire safety of a commercial building. They help reduce the spread of fire and smoke to allow for safe exit during a fire. To help reduce risk and avoid tragedy, fire doors are tested and certified to industry standards, a practice that dates back over 80 years. To comply with these requirements, it is important to understand the testing and certification process and how it impacts product development
In North America, fire doors are tested to several standards, depending on product type. These include:
- UL10B (R2020) –Neutral Pressure
- NFPA 252 (2017) –Positive or Neutral Pressure
- CAN/ULC S104 (2015) -Neutral Pressure
- UL 10C (2016) – Positive Pressure
- The IBC (International Building Code) references: UL 10B, UL 10C and NFPA 252
- The NBC (National Building Code of Canada) references: CAN/ULCS104
Prior to testing products to these standards there are several items to consider: furnace temperature increase over time, neutral vs. positive pressure, and how the fire exposed side of the door will be impacted and exposed to cooling/erosion effects of the hose stream following the conclusion of the fire endurance portion of the test.
Acceptance criteria varies from general requirements to those for hardware, and include:
- Door remains latched and has no through openings
- No sustained flaming shall occur on the unexposed surface of the door assembly, with some exceptions depending on the standard
- Less than 1 times the thickness of the door (fire resistance) and less than 1-1/2 times the thickness of the door (hose stream) -(UL 10B / UL 10C), less than 1 times the thickness of the door (CAN/ULC S104). Applicable to perimeter and leaves of a pair.
- Meeting edge separation on pairs not greater than 3/8 inch (without an astragal).
- When hardware is evaluated for use on fire doors, it shall hold the door closed and the latch bolt shall remain projected and intact after the test. (The hardware is not required to be operable after the test.)
- Please be aware, CAN/ULC S104 has specific requirements for testing hardware that are above and beyond what is noted in the other North American fire door test standards!
Certain product considerations can help mitigate risk during testing. For example, material selection for a product (i.e. steel, aluminum, wood, composite, etc.) can play an important role in fire door safety depending on the end-use application and the fire resistance duration a client is looking to achieve (i.e. 20 minutes, 90 minutes, etc.) The use of intumescent materials and edge construction must also be considered, especially for positive pressure applications and combustible/consumable door construction. The primary function of these materials is to aid in filling in gaps by expanding; however, too much intumescent can potentially be harmful to the overall fire resistance performance of the door assembly. Other important considerations when it comes to mapping out a test plan for fire doors are latching configurations and hardware, framing and installation/anchoring.
Certification illustrates that product samples have been formally tested by an accredited third party and meet or exceed the criteria of the standard(s). It also ensures proper quality control and adherence to specific manufacturing guidelines through ongoing surveillance, inspections, and follow-up services. For certification to be considered valid, listed fire doors, frames, and components must be installed according to NFPA 80. This standard also defines minimum label requirements for these products. If a door or frame is missing valid labelling in the field, a field inspection with the possibility of field labeling can be done onsite to ensure compliance and keep a project on schedule.
Learn more about testing and certifying fire doors, including insights on common field issues and specifics on the Intertek process by downloading our webinar recording.
Technical Manager, Openings
Justin Hendricks has extensive experience in fire resistance testing and code compliance, primarily in regard to openings related building products both to North American and European test standards. His primary focus is on fire doors and other opening protectives and he serves on several industry committees. His other areas of expertise include manufacturing facility auditing and inspections, quality control program development, all facets of third-party product certification programs.