Fire-Rated garage doors are required for certain types of industry, and in some kinds of retail and institutional buildings. These steel roll-up doors close and latch automatically in case there is a fire or other alarmed event. In addition, fire-rated doors feature a failsafe system where specially designed links melt to allow the door to close if the ambient temperature reaches a certain benchmark, even if the alarm hasn’t been triggered.
What Features Does your Fire-Rated Door Need?
That ultimately depends upon your business and building type, level of occupancy, and municipal regulations. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has a set of standards, which form the basis on which most municipalities base their regulations, so it is a good baseline. First and foremost, in order to be fire-rated, a door must be tested and listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), or another certification standard accepted by your state and municipality. Here are some features and characteristics you should consider:
Be sure the fire-rated door you are considering is “listed” or “approved” by an accepted agency. The fire-rating required for your door is based on the fire-rating for the wall you’re installing it in. The fire rating is based on the “weakest link” in the assembly being tested. For example, if the door itself tests at 3 hours, but the hardware tests at 2 hours, that’s a 2-hour system. Regulations on door frames vary widely, so it’s important to check on the specific requirements for your location and application.
Regardless of what other equipment your door may have to connect it to an alarm system and closing motor, it should have a failsafe. This consists of a fusible link which melts at a given temperature, and allows the door to close safely by using a governor, to prevent it from simply crashing down. For buildings with an ambient temperature of less than 100F, UL recommends a fusible link that melts at 165F. For buildings with ambient temperature above 100F, the fusible link should separate at 212F.
If your door uses an electric opener, you can choose a model that connects to your alarm system. When an alarm or smoke alarm is triggered, the door will be lowered automatically, even if the power is out. Current systems often use a battery backup or Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which trigger door closure in the event of a power outage, as well. These systems often include a feature which delays closure by a preselected number of seconds (typically 10-60 seconds), in case of a momentary power interruption.
Some applications call for windows, either for aesthetic or functional reasons, in a fire-rated door. Fire-rated lites are available with ratings up to 4 hours, just like doors. The frames and glazing of these lites are also specially designed and tested to withstand whatever the lite itself is rated for.
Get Professional Help From the Start
Installing or replacing a fire-rated door is a critical matter of safety and compliance. You simply can’t afford to go wrong on this one, and you need the expertise of a professional who knows the regulations for your area. Call The Garage Door Man for expert advice on the specific requirements for installing a fire-rated garage door in your location and situation.