A fire rated door is a very heavy door made of materials like metal or gypsum. Its main purpose is to hold back smoke and to contain fire. The term fire rated means that the door, when installed properly, is not supposed to combust during a certain time period in the average fire. Time ratings vary and some standard ratings include 20-90 minute doors. Depending upon area small companies or government agencies may determine fire ratings.
Certain buildings or remodeling jobs might require a fire rated door. They are often installed in public buildings, in office buildings and in places like dormitories. Another frequent use of these doors is in exit stairwells. Sometimes a residence may require a fire rated door, but this is less common. Doors for the home can be found, but if they are not installed and used correctly they won’t be effective.
One thing that renders a fire door ineffective is propping it open. If the door is not shut, it can’t hold back smoke or contain fire. In large buildings there are several ways to deal with this. Doors may have an automatic shut mode if fire is detected. This way people can keep the doors open most of the time. Other doors simply need to be kept shut and many automatically close after they’ve been opened.
Many of these doors are solid, but some have a window, which can be covered with fine mesh. In order for the door to still be considered fire rated, any glass or other transparent materials used have to be rated too. Often, the doors are installed in what are called rated walls, which have also been tested for their ability to contain fire and not combust within a certain time period.
Each fire rated door must be installed within certain specifications and requires specific door hardware and sealants to maintain the fire rating. Usually, contractors skilled in this area perform the installation. If a person is installing a door at home, they should rigidly adhere to all instruction that will maintain the fire rating, and/or have a professional do the work.
Many people wonder how much they should trust a fire rated door. This is a difficult question. People shouldn’t assume the door will keep out all smoke, and they should still follow safety protocol for exiting a building. Keep low, remain calm, and proceed in an orderly fashion toward an exit. Exit stairwells in buildings generally are considered the safest exit means because they are usually built behind fire rated walls and fire doors.
It wouldn’t make sense to trust the door will keep fire out completely and make people behind it totally safe. Time rating usually isn’t known and amount of time the fire has been burning is hard to determine too. People in a fire should not trust that a fire rated door would be sufficient protection within a building during a fire. Leaving the building in a safe manner is always better than hiding behind a door.