Fire Door Gap Size Allowances - Am I protected?

For me, it’s that time of year again, annual facility fire door inspections.  I already know that the majority of these doors are going to fail, primarily due to door gap size allowances being exceeded. Current codes, NFPA 80, requires a maximum door gap allowance of ⅛” around the top and vertical perimeters of a fire rated door.  They allow up to ¾” door gap allowance at the bottom perimeter of the door. 

As I walk through the facility with my tablet and door gap gauge, I have to be prepared for the litany of questions that I will inevitably receive from facility managers. The primary question being, “How do I know that gap measurement is sufficient?”

In March of 2018, the NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation published a report to answer the question of how did the gap size allowances come to be, and are the current gap allowances the best practice. The study included a literature review of more than 100 published documents and media, and computer modeling.  This report, Influence of Gap Sizes around Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware on Fire and Smoke Development, can be viewed in its entirety.

This study and report made some of the following conclusions:

“From this information a great deal of information and data was collected that directly reveals that the gap sizes around swinging doors have a significant effect on the fire development.”

“A significant amount of work was done to trace the historic record of the prescriptive gaps sizes included in NFPA 80. It was revealed that the first inclusion of these gaps sizes was added in 1959. Initially, requirements were based on the mounting of doors; however, in 1967 the requirements switched to being based on the door construction. There is no evidence to suggest that this was done from a fire performance perspective, however the test reports from that time period indicate that the prescriptive gap sizes are in the vicinity of what was found during full scale testing.”

Aegis Fire Door Gap Gauge

Innovating Our Industry [Seven Survival Skills]

Innovator. An innovator is defined as a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products. these are individuals who blaze a trail into a new territory. Innovation is necessary for our survival - as a people, and as an industry.

In his book Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, Tony Wagner provides a clear argument for the changes that are needed in our educational system (and to some extent, our parenting styles) to create innovative people. Without innovation, we will cease to develop and exist. In his previous book, Tony identified seven survival skills that people need to possess and foster in others in order for us to continue to thrive.  These skills are also what is needed within our industry of fire protection, life safety, and codes and standards development, to enable its continued growth and impact.
  1. Critical thinking and problem solving.
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence.
  3. Agility and adaptability.
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship.
  5. Accessing and analyzing information.
  6. Effective oral and written communication.
  7. Curiosity and imagination.
Tony adds to this list, “perseverance, a willingness to experiment, take calculated risks, and tolerate failure, and the capacity for “design thinking”.

The U.S. Army understands the importance and urgency to create innovative thinkers and leaders. In 2015 the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command released a “Learning Conceptpaper that identified three components that would contribute to a more competitive learning model.  These three actions can be implemented within our industries to enhance innovative thinking and growth.

  1. Convert most classroom experiences into collaborative problem-solving events led by facilitators (vs. instructors) who engage learners to think and understand the relevance and context of what they learn.
  2. Tailor learning to the individual learner’s experience and competence level based on the results of a pre-test and/or assessment.
  3. Dramatically reduce or eliminate instructor-led slide presentation lectures and begin using a blended learning approach that incorporates virtual and constructive simulations, gaming technology, or other technology-delivered instruction.
How can we foster these traits within our organizations and personnel? What tools are you using to encourage and create innovation with your company, organization, or industry at large?