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  Program 5

FDHRC1B - Fire Door Hardware and Related Codes

DHI CEP Program #10-1115



Part 1 - The Complete Opening

Part 2 - Hardware Components

Part 3 - Standards


<< Glossary of Terms >>


Part 1 - The Complete Opening

Since the early 1900s, the system of building regulations in the United States was based on building codes developed by three regional code groups:

  • Building Officials Code Administrators International (BOCA) covered the
    East Coast and throughout the Midwest
  • Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) oversaw the Southeast
  • International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) covered the West Coast
    and across most of the Midwest

By the early 1990s it became obvious that the country needed a single set of national building codes. In 1994, the nation's three code groups decided to combine their efforts and formed the International Code Council (ICC) to develop codes that would have no regional limitations.

After extensive research and development, the first edition of the International Building Code (IBC) was published in 2000. A large portion of the IBC deals with fire prevention. It differs from the related International Fire Code (IFC) in that the IBC addresses fire prevention in regards to construction and design, while the fire code addresses fire prevention in regards to the operation of a completed and occupied building.

The code book (2000 edition) totals over 700 pages, including chapters on:

  • Building occupancy classifications
  • Building heights and areas
  • Interior finishes
  • Foundation, wall and roof construction
  • Fire protection systems (sprinkler system requirements and design)
  • Materials used in construction
  • Elevators and escalators
  • Already existing structures
  • Means of egress

Means of Egress
The phrase "means of egress" refers to the ability to exit a structure, primarily in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Specifically, a means of egress is broken into three parts:

  • The path of travel to an exit
  • The exit itself
  • The exit discharge (the path to a safe area outside)

Codes pertaining to means of egress address the number of exits required for a structure based on its intended occupancy use and the number of people who could be in the place at one time. It also deals with special needs, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons where evacuating people may have special requirements. In some instances, requirements are based on possible hazards where flammable or toxic chemicals will be in use.

Developed by the National Fire Protection Association is referenced for installation and maintenance of fire rated openings. All fire-rated assemblies must be self-closing and self-latching. In certain situations, some codes are exempt from latching. However, whenever the codes call for rated assemblies, then latching is required.

Five basic requirements:

  1. Labeled fire frame
  2. Labeled fire door
  3. Approved closer
  4. Approved latching device with proper latch bolt length
  5. Steel bearing type hinges

How ratings are determined?
The location of the wall in the building and prevailing building code establish the wall's fire rating. In general, doors carry three quarters of the rating of the surrounding wall. For example, a 3-hour fire door would be used in a 4-hour wall. Building codes determine the rating of the wall to be used.

Door Classifications
Following are the hourly fire rating designations for 3-hour and 1-1/2 hour applications that apply to interior openings:

Class "A" 3-hour: Openings in walls separating buildings or dividing a single building into designated fire areas

Class "B" 1-1/2 hour: Openings in walls through a building (i.e., stairwells, elevator shafts and boiler rooms)

Class "C" 3/4-hour: Openings in walls of corridors or room partitions

Class "D" 1-1/2 hour: Openings in exterior walls subject to severe fire exposure from the outside

Class "E" 3/4-hour: Openings in exterior walls subject to moderate to light fire exposure from the outside

1/3-hour (20 minutes): Openings used in walls between living quarters and corridors where smoke control is of primary concern, and have a "no class" (letter) designation.


Upon submission, results of your evaluation will be displayed with the correct answers shown in red.

  1. The _______ addresses fire prevention in regards to construction and design?

  2. Codes pertaining to means of egress address?
    Number of exits.
    Special needs.
    Possible hazards.
    All of the above.

  3. NFPA 80 is referenced for installation and maintenance of fire rated openings?

  4. In general, doors carry _______ of the rating of the surrounding wall?
    One quarter.
    Three quarters.