With the most active period of Hurricane Season approaching, I like to touch on the importance of hurricane rated doors. It’s easy to throw in fire-rated doors when we talk about this topic, so that’s what I’m doing—it’s one big smorgasbord of hurricane rated and fire-rated door knowledge.
When it comes to hardware, one of the necessities is its ability to stand up against particular elements such as fire, the wind, and rain. (Did anyone else think I was going to say Earth, Wind and Fire? That’s what I typed first in case you were wondering.) It’s an even more important quality when it comes to your exterior doors and hardware. Because of this, fire-rated and hurricane rated doors and hardware are a big hit in states with extreme weather.
Hurricane Rated Doors
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you’re no doubt familiar with hurricane rated doors, especially if you’re a facility owner. Because facility owners are in charge of making sure you have all of the right door and hardware equipment, they are familiar with the Florida Building Commission and their code requirements.
In light of the damage that Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina left behind in Florida and Louisiana, code officials cracked down on the specifics for buildings located in high wind areas. Created by the Florida Legislature, the Florida Building Commission drafted a statewide building code to prevent damage from hurricanes and forceful winds.
For hurricane rated doors, wind-force is a huge factor, based on how much the door, frame, and the hardware can withstand. The rating is measured by pounds of pressure per inch, or “PI” if you’re down with the hurricane-rating lingo. Location plays a part in what PI a door is required to have. If a facility is inland, it may need a door with a PI of 60 while one closer to the coast requires one much higher.
Wind speeds of at least 74 mph must be sustained over a fixed period to be considered a hurricane, but that doesn’t mean you’re automatically safe if the wind speeds around you don’t reach that number. Winds with much less speed have been known to cause extensive damage, and this is why you see hurricane rated doors in land-locked areas.
The wind is the primary player with hurricane rated doors, but you can’t forget the debris the wind picks up during a storm. Branches and other large objects are around spell bad news for you if your door isn’t up to the challenge.
Consider all factors when considering a hurricane rated door for your facility.
The primary purpose of any fire-rated door is to keep fire and smoke from spreading throughout your facility. Most people believe a fire-rated door is only made to hold up against the heat caused by fire, but that isn’t the case. Smoke is also a factor that comes into play.
There are many requirements for a door to pass through a fire-rated door. One, there can’t be any gaps or holes in or around the door because this helps keep smoke from making its way through the door. If you want to patch an existing door, think again. A patched door in not consider fire-rated.
Fire-rated doors also must be self-latching. Over time, a latch can wear down and cause it to slide in and out easier than intended. Your door needs to be completely self-latching to pass inspection and qualify as a fire-rated door. If you have to replace the latching device, just make sure you do so with a latching device that is also fire-labeled.
Take into account labels when considering a fire-rated door. All hardware on the door has to be fire-labeled to qualify as a fire-rated door.
Finally, fire-rated doors need to close on their own without help from outside material or sources, which means they need to close on their own. If you have to push the door closed, it isn’t a fire-rated.
It’s essential to remember it’s possible to negate the fire-rating of your door. If any holes manage to wear through on your door, there goes your fire-rating. That seems fairly obvious. But, did you know if you accidentally paint over the fire-label, the fire-rating is out of the door? You also can’t have any missing or broken parts and no field modifications that would void the door’s fire label are ever permitted.
There are modifications you can make to fire-rated doors but make sure you aren’t accidentally negating the door’s fire-rating without knowing. If you’re unsure of a modification, you can speak to your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), and they’ll be able to help you out with any questions you may have.
If you have questions about hurricane and fire-rated doors, feel free to call us anytime. We are more than happy to help you out!
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