Fire Rating Agencies and Best Practices When Using Fire Resistant Doors and Windows
The National Fire Protection Association is the agency that inspects fire ratings annually on commercial properties, while the Underwriters Laboratory is the agency that decides whether any given door models meet fire resistance ratings acceptable within the U.S. in several categories listed, for example, “UL 30” (30 minutes of fire resistance). While the idea is to keep doors manufactured for the endurance of fire closed at all times, this is not always practiced: if you have gone the distance to install a fire rated door in your home, get into the habit of keeping it closed — especially during summer, or when you have the fireplace or stove going for any length of time.
The same is true for fire rated windows: while windows generally stay closed and are less likely to be opened and closed with the frequency doors are, it’s critical to remember: if a fire rated window isn’t shut, it cannot do its job.
With both fire rated windows and doors, remember to install in conjunction with fire rated frames, jambs, or any other portion of any entry to the structure or its internal rooms. Fire rated casing for doors and windows will make these fire rated entryways into your home or office genuinely resistant to fire-spreading.
Different Levels of Fire Rated Doors and How to Know What You Need for Your Structure
Fire rated doors have permanently affixed labels indicating the level of fire resistance that particular door (and its frame, if they were sold as a set, which is generally the case) has. This is known as UL, which stands for “Underwriters Laboratory.” Various UL labels reveal for how many minutes the door can withstand fire, and for how many square feet it will keep fire in (or out, depending on your perspective). For example, one of the most common fire ratings is UL 45 MIN; this fire rated door (Category C) can stave off smoke and flames for 45 minutes for a space with no more than 1296 square inches of glass.
ETO Doors carries a fire rated door catalog of roughly 60 competitively priced doors, including interior and exterior, with and without glass, available in a variety of wood types, including Douglas fir, knotty alder, and mahogany, as well as fiberglass fire rated doors for residential and commercial needs. Within this selection are doors with ratings that vary from UL 20 MIN up to UL 90 MIN, and for garage doors, we bring a fire rating up to UL 180 MIN (3 hours) — the highest UL-rating. Our most popular sellers are UL 20 MIN and UL 60 MIN fire rated doors, available with or without glass laminate panes, panels, or fixtures. For everyday use, these two option are the most common, as higher UL ratings are only needed for the types of spaces where goods are stored, and where the primary concern is loss of inventory, not the loss of life; because homes and busy offices are occupied by people who can sense a fire within these timeframes and safely escape. When this isn’t the case, as with a vacation home, a warehouse, or facilities where occupants aren’t capable of getting out (pet shelters, where animals may be left over a long weekend, for example) fire rated doors with higher resistance are recommended.