Fire Door Protection Ratings May Be Less Than the Rating For the Wall Assembly

by Sean O'Hara on January 12, 2009

There is a common assumption that a wall with a certain fire rating will require a door with an equal rating. While the door will generally need to be rated it oftentimes requires a lower rating. These are the numbers from the 2006 International Building Code.

First, exterior walls always allow reduced ratings in doors. Both 3 hour walls and 2 hour walls require a 90 minute door. A 1 hour exterior wall requires a 45 minute door.

Where you have a fire barrier with a 1 hour rating at a shaft, exit enclosure or exit passageway you will need a 1 hour door. For other fire barriers it is reduced to a 45 minute door.

Where you have a fire barrier with required rating over 1 hour the need for reduction varies. Both a 4 hour wall and a 3 hour wall require a 3 hour door. Both a 2 hour wall and a 90 minute wall require a 90 minute door. In the 3 hour wall they will allow you to use a pair of 90 minute doors, but only in that once instance.

A 1 hour smoke barrier requires a 20 minute door.

Fire partitions that are corridor walls allow reductions. For either a 1 hour wall or a 30 minute wall you’ll need a 20 minute door. With any other fire partitions a 1 hour wall requires a 45 minute door and a 30 minute wall needs a 20 minute door.

In summary, it is actually a very confusing chart, so feel free to check back when you are putting together your door schedule.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie Gal July 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Thanks for the good advice for contractors. We will use this information to help some customers that inquire about fire ratings and door protection required.

Sean O'Hara January 11, 2010 at 11:07 pm

James, the code that would cover a renovation of an apartment building will be the code adopted in the municipality that you are working in.

The amount of modification that you will need to do meet modern building codes will depend on the extent of the renovation. At one extreme if you don’t renovate, then you won’t have to do anything to meet codes and on the other end of the spectrum if you totally gut it and revise the units then you’ll need to bring all the components up to code.

Now, that being said, if the condition is truly hazardous (rather than just up to an older code) then you really should fix the hazard to protect both the owner and the tenants. The property owner is responsible for keeping the building up to fire code.

If you’d like to go into greater specifics, feel free to call or email us and we can go into detail.

james green January 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I need to have the texas or national law that directs to renovations and firewalls in apartment buildings.It is not clear to me do I need to bring the building to code if the firewalls are not up to todays standards.Can a life safety hazard be grandfathered?

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