Swinging Fire Door Inspections

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Swinging Fire Door Inspections have quickly become one of the many required fire safety inspections on a facility manager’s list that they have come to dread. Not only are these annual inspections required by Authority Having Jurisdiction’s such as the Joint Commission, CMS they are also required by local and state fire marshals. Strict reporting requirements outlined by the National Fire Protection’s Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives have made these inspections, among other things, a thorn in the facility manager’s side. As a third-party dedicated to solving fire safety pain points, I spend a lot of time investigating how I can help facilities folks like you manage your day to day tasks easier and mark things off of your to do list so you can move on to bigger things.

Our Top 5 Reasons Why Fire Door Inspections are a Pain

Let’s talk about why swinging fire door inspections are such a pain. I’ve even taken the first step to make a top 5 list. If I haven’t hit the nail on the head here, let me know. I bet, together, we can make this list a hefty one.

  1. Annual inspections are expensive – Can we talk about the resources that go into annual swinging fire door inspections for a minute? The cost to maintain these doors drain a significant chunk of your already tightened annual facility maintenance budget. Whether you choose to employ a contractor to perform the inspections for you or you decide to have your staff complete the inspections in-house, the amount of money being spent for the inspections is a significant bite out of your budget. On average, a facility spends around $35 dollars a door each year to inspect a swinging fire door. A hospital, for instance, has around one fire door per square foot. If you’re a 200 bed hospital, you’re talking around $7,000 a year to perform the fire door inspection – and we haven’t even talked about repairs, which is my next point.
  2. Fire door repairs are so expensive. So you’ve completed your door inspection, what now? Now you have to make sure the door is repaired and up to code. Based on our sister company’s experience performing fire door inspections in countless facilities over the years, we have found that roughly 75% of fire doors “fail” – meaning they don’t pass NFPA 80’s 11 points of inspection. So now you’re $7000 in on the inspection but have to find money in your budget for the repairs. Replacing busted or broken fire door hardware, gasketing, astragals and door closers is expensive and often times requires a speciality contractor to replace them. The longer you go in between inspections and ongoing maintenance, the more expensive those doors are going to be to repair.
  3. All of your doors fail inspection. OK, so many not all of your doors fail the inspection, but it sure seems like it. It feels even more frustrating when the doors fail for reasons that you know won’t inhibit their operation during the event of a fire – like a missing fire rated label. By now as facility safety professionals, we want our facilities safe. It’s crucial to the overall fire protection system in the facility to have reliable fire doors that perform their job to help compartmentalize a fire during a catastrophic event. But let’s face it – some of the reasons a fire door fails ultimately have nothing to do with how it performs, which leads me to number four on our list.
  4. Having to replace fire rated labels – Over the years, fire rated labels can be painted over, torn off or damaged. NFPA specifically has a requirements that door labels remain legible throughout the duration of the door. These labels are there to mark that the openings of a fire door and frame and that they have been tested and passed according to the required standards. Missing that ever-important label? It will cost you thousands to have them replaced.
  5. Reporting – The recording keeping aspect of swinging fire door inspections in itself is a big obstacle for many facilities. Having to keep track of traditional paper inspection records across multiple buildings and locations is a huge feat and you’re expected to keep the inspection reports available on the ready. If a fire marshal pops in to do a random spot check of your facility, you could be in big trouble if you aren’t able to easily track down the reports.

Why Fire Door Inspections Are So Important

Now that we’ve been reminded why these inspections tend to make your lives a bit difficult, let’s talk about why they are so important. And I can’t emphasize that enough – fire door inspections are so important to the safety and well being of your building’s occupants. Fire doors play a critical role in a building’s overall fire protection strategy. Fire loss can be, and often is, one of a facility’s greatest threats. Loss of life, property damage and the financial risk associated with damage from catastrophic fires are impending dangers no matter what type of facility it is that you manage. Fire protection is a critical component of any facility or safety manager’s job – adding risk mitigation to your long list of duties each day. By now, we all know that fires can strike just about any workplace at any time. The financial and emotional effects can be felt by an organization like yours long after the fire is put out. But as with anything in a building, improper maintenance and operation can render useless any fire-rated door and leave your facility open to an even greater risk.

In the event that a fire occurs on the property you manage, having measures in place to slow the spread of the flames and minimize potential damages is crucial. Fire doors are specifically designed to withstand the extreme heat of a fire for a period of time, temporarily blocking flames, smoke and toxic gases from traveling from one area of a building to another. We all know that time is of the essence and how quickly fire can spread – a functioning fire door can give the building’s occupants enough time to safely escape. The key here is that they must be routinely inspected and adequately maintained to find any faults that might keep them from serving their purpose. NFPA has created a very specific inspection requirement that ensures that each and every component of the fire door is inspected each year. Having eyes consistently on your doors will ensure they will work when they are needed.

While it may be a bit of a hassle to keep up with the inspections, take chunks out of your budget and be a rather big thorn in your side each year, we can assure you, the problems you would face should a fire break out in your facility is much much greater. These important facility assets are top of mind to your authority having jurisdiction for a reason because, quite simply, fire doors save lives.

Oh, and by the way, Safenetix has solutions to help make swinging fire door inspections a little easier each year. From training and certifications to software to manage the reporting side of things, we have you covered. Ask us how!

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