Monday, July 1, 2013

How To Conduct NFPA 80 Inspections

One of my first large projects in my new position was to ensure that the facility was compliant with all egress and fire door inspection requirements.  Having personally conducted inspections of all 200 doors on the facility, I became intimately familiar with the requirements of NFPA 101:7 and NFPA 80.
Recent editions of NFPA 101 require that egress and fire doors be inspected annually.
NFPA 101:
Where required by Chapters 11 through 43, door assemblies for which the door leaf is required to swing in the direction of egress travel shall be inspected an tested not less than annually in accordance with throught

NFPA 101:
Fire-rated door assemblies shall be inspected and tested in accordance with NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.
NFPA 80 clearly outlines how these annual inspections are to be conducted and what components
must be inspected.

80:5.2.41 clearly states that fire doors must be inspected annually. Some occupancy types require more frequent inspections (NFPA 409 requires monthly visual inspections, for example).  Although there are several fire door inspection agencies, organizations, and certification courses around, NFPA 80 does not require a special certification, it merely states a person "with knowledge and understanding of the operating components of the type of assembly being subject to testing".  It is also not the AHJ's job to conduct the fire door inspection, it is on the building owner to have the inspections conducted and a record available for the AHJ.

One of the most important considerations is to ensure that the inspections (and any deficiencies) are clearly documented, and all required components are thoroughly inspected.  One of the best forms for this is available for free from, it is a single checklist (each door on the facility should have its own inspection sheet), that thoroughly lists all inspection criteria.

NFPA 80 Inspection Form

Another important form to have available is an inventory sheet of all facility doors, here is a simple one that I created for use on our facility (feel free to steal):

Egress/Fire Door Inventory Sheet

Inspection records are required to have the following information:

(1)  Date of inspection
(2)  Name of facility

(3)  Address of facility
(4)  Name of person(s) performing inspections and testing
(5)  Company name and address of inspecting company
(6)  Signature of inspector of record
(7)  Individual record of each inspected and tested fire door assembly
(8)  Opening identifier and location of each inspected and tested fire door assembly
(9)  Type and description of each inspected and tested fire door assembly
(10)  Verification of visual inspection and functional operation
(11)  Listing of deficiencies

Doors should be inspected from both sides to ensure compliance. Inspections should denote the following deficiencies (NFPA 80:
(1)  Labels are clearly visible and legible.
(2)  No open holes or breaks exist in surfaces of either the door or frame.

(3)  Glazing, vision light frames, and glazing beads are intact and securely fastened in place, if so equipped.
(4)  The door, frame, hinges, hardware, and noncombustible threshold are secured, aligned, and in working order with no visible signs of damage.
(5)  No parts are missing or broken.
(6)  Door clearances do not exceed clearances allowed.

(7)  The self-closing device is operational; that is, the active door completely closes when operated from the full open position.

(8)  If a coordinator is installed, the inactive leaf closes before the active leaf.
(9)  Latching hardware operates and secures the door when it is in the closed position.

(10)  Auxiliary hardware items that interfere or prohibit operation are not installed on the door or frame.

(11)  No field modifications to the door assembly have been performed that void the label.
(12)  Meeting edge protection, gasketing and edge seals, where required, are inspected to verify their presence and integrity.
(13)  Any signage is properly affixed to the door (per NFPA 80:4.1.4).

Fire doors must not exceed allowable clearances between the door and the frame, the door and the sill, or between two doors.  The required maximum clearances are as follows:
  •  the clearance under the bottom of the door must not exceed 3/4"
    • if bottom of door is more than 38" AFF clearance cannot exceed 3/8"
  • clearance at top of a steel door or between pairs of doors must be 1/8-1/16"
    • wood doors must not exceed 1/8"
There are several useful tools for checking these clearances quickly and reliably (much better than using a tape measure and "eyeballing" it).  I personally use, and recommend, this one from

All inspection records are to be kept for 3 years. 

The most important part of any inspection program is, not just documenting deficiencies, but ensuring that they are corrected.  It is only when these fire doors are properly installed and maintained that they can effectively accomplish their intended purpose.

Further reading: