If you’ve ever remodeled, you may have wondered which doors in your house or commercial building need to be fire doors. Let’s take a look at what fire doors actually are, then how they come into play in commercial buildings and in residential homes.
What is a fire door?
The purpose of a fire door is really to prevent the spread of smoke from one part of the structure to another. It’s not truly to stop a fire. It turns out that many more deaths are caused by smoke inhalation than from the fire itself.
If you look at a fire door closely—usually at the bottom or top—there’s a round part that is the electromagnet. It’s run by electricity to hold that door open. When fire is detected and the electromagnets turn off, the door closes automatically.
Fire doors are rated anywhere from 20 minutes to up to four hours. So that gives you more time to get your family or other people to safety. That being said, they’re tested under very controlled circumstances, and the manufacturers have disclaimers that say that. So those times can be shortened tremendously depending on variables like heat and intensity of the fire.
Aesthetically, you can have very pleasing doors as fire doors. Since the key is the electromagnets built into the gaskets and the framing, they can even be glass sometimes. In fact, sometimes the parts to make a door a fire door can even be purchased separately.
Commercial fire doors
Often commercial buildings like schools, churches, movie theaters, and stores are required by code to have multiple fire doors. It’s not a door to the outside like the main entry or the fire escape doors.
Since the point of a fire door is to prevent the spread of smoke from one part of the structure to another, you can see how it wouldn’t make sense to have those doors open to the outside. That’s not helping prevent the spread of smoke to another part of the structure.
Residential fire doors
Generally, fire doors in homes are only required between the garage and the rest of the house. Often combustible items like gasoline, paint, and even your car itself are stored in the garage. That’s why the fire door is required there.
Sometimes people get confused about car ports. A car port—by definition in the code—has to have three open sides. So if you’ve closed off any other sides, it becomes a garage. At that point the fire door requirement comes into play.
Of course, if you’re hiring a professional to help you with your remodeling, they should know what the code requires. Better safe than sorry! Be sure to get expert advise specific to your situation.