Dec 27

Fire Rated Doors

I am sure that many of you have heard complaints about fire rated door requirements.  Especially when it’s holding up a project.

Recently, a project that my distributor was working on was held up due to a missing label on a fire rated hollow metal door.  The result was a rush to remedy the situation in order not to delay receiving a COO, which we all know would be a nightmare.  The owners and contractor couldn’t understand why we just couldn’t slap a label on the door.  We have to follow specific procedures that exist to save lives.

End users consistently balk at the price of fire rated wood doors.  I once had an in depth argument with the pastor of a church who felt it was OK to cut corners by installing non-rated doors, where labeled doors were called for while renovating his church.

For the most part, it seems that fire safety codes and requirements are viewed more as a burden than a life saving strategy.

But then you hear of such tragedies as the recent fire at the AMRI hospital in Kolkata, where over ninety people lost their lives.  Apparently, it was known that the hospital was ill prepared to fight fire.  But, as of August 29th of this year, they received a no-objection certificate.  It appears this tragedy could have been avoided if simple local safety rules had been followed. The hospital should have had to comply with those requirements before continuing to function.

Coincidentally, the AMRI fire occurred almost fifty years to the day after the Hartford Connecticut Hospital’s deadly fire.  A fire started in the Hartford hospital when someone carelessly tossed a smoldering cigarette in the trash chute that serviced all 13 floors of the hospital.  The fire spread when a fire-ball shot up and blew the ninth floor chute door open.  Flaws in the ceiling tiles and wall paneling aided the rapid spread of the fire.

Sixteen people died that day.  “Any room that had the door closed, the people lived.” Dr. David Crombie, an intern at the time of the fire, told the Hartford Courant.  “Anyone with it open, died.”

That fire prompted many new fire safety standards in hospital across the nation. The National Fire Protection Association updated its hospital safety procedures and building codes.  We deal with these procedures still today.  Since 1961, no U.S. Hospital has experienced such a devastating fire.

It is disheartening that such tragedies have to happen before we know what needs fixing.  But, what is more disheartening is the desire to cheat those requirements when we already know what the consequences could be.



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