Friday, September 28, 2018

Benefits of Fire Door Commissioning

This guest post is provided by our #FireDoorSafetyWeek partner, Aegis Fire Barrier Consultants, and is written by, Justin B. Biller, P.E., CHFM, CLSS-HC, CFPS | AEGIS Technical Director.



Doors are a major concern for building owners and facility managers. Ongoing maintenance of doors and architectural hardware represents a significant cost margin to building owners. Nowhere, is this more true than for healthcare facility and engineering managers where building footprints are vast - often in excess of 1 million square feet or more. Maintaining all doors in large facilities is always a challenge, but of even higher concern for healthcare engineers is fire and smoke barrier management, wherein door maintenance is a critical component. This point is not lost on a highly accomplished architect, Amanda Adams AIA, who has spent much of her career in significant restoration projects – she has noted first- hand how important fire and smoke door assemblies become in sustaining code compliance, providing a safe and healthy environment for building occupants, and in achieving her overall architectural vision for a space. Ms. Adams highlighted this point to us at AEGIS, wherein she states,


“the foremost requirement of architecture is shelter. This ranks above aesthetics and creative efforts. All building occupants - users, visitors, tenants, residents - expect a building to provide shelter from the elements. At times, emergency situations arise that cause a building to offer shelter or protection from internal threats (often this is a fire threat)....whether that be protect in place or provide a safe exiting scenario. Passive life safety systems hold top priority in life safety; active systems increase safety and provide additional time. Properly functioning fire doors are a critical basic component to the passive system. A door must fit properly in its frame. Closing hardware must work properly. Positive latching hardware completes the barrier.”

The added strain on fiscal responsibilities for healthcare facilities to “do more with less” heightens the need to challenge installers to do the work right the first time – it is often noted on annual inspections of fire and smoke door assemblies that the ongoing challenges to maintenance stem from improper installation (i.e., improperly plumbed door frame and jamb, incorrect or insufficient hardware, incorrect door or glazing type, etc.).
According to the Door Security and Safety Foundation, although doors only represent 2% of a typical construction budget, on average more than 30% of punch-list items are door-related. It is, therefore, the opinion of many within the industry that it is in the best interest of building owners to verify fire and smoke doors are installed properly from the outset – a determination that committee members of NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives also found imperative. In its most current published editions (2016 and 2019), NFPA 80 prescribes in section 5.2.1 that “upon completion of the installation” these assemblies are to be inspected and tested.
Here at AEGIS we believe as well that a comprehensive survey of door installation during construction benefits the building designer and can dramatically decrease ongoing maintenance costs associated with fire and smoke door assemblies. We are here to help you implement this on your next project and can work with your design team through specification and installation through final punch-out.
What is Fire System Commissioning (FCx)
NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems delineates that the commissioning and integrated testing process would include both, active and passive components of fire protection systems. Commissioning is a procedure of verifying a quality process from design inception through development and construction and extends through the life of the building by ongoing maintenance and operations. Passive fire protection systems, including fire and smoke rated door assemblies, serve as a primary component for most building life safety systems with varying degrees of complexity (based on factors such as occupancy and building geometry). Fire and smoke rated doors are often integrated with fire and life safety systems such as fire alarm, sprinkler, smoke control, and emergency electrical systems, thus it becomes imperative for the fire commissioning team (FCxT) to include qualified fire door commissioning agents (Cx) to be employed. Along with NFPA 3, NFPA also developed NFPA 4, Standard for the Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing to work in concert with the recommended practices of commissioning, outlined in NFPA 3, to accomplish this task.
AEGIS with its partnerships with engineers and architects, has the practical experience and expertise to support your commissioning team with passive fire protection system components.