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fire door in commercial building

What is a Fire Door Inspection & Why do We Need It?

Fire doors often go underappreciated and overlooked until a real fire emergency occurs. So when a fire happens people often scatter in panic without understanding how to use fire doors effectively, therefore compromising their ability to find safe evacuation routes. 

Fire doors are vital components for many commercial buildings in the United States. These doors are made from fireproof materials and specially designed to compartmentalize fires, helping to contain them and provide safe evacuation routes for workers and guests. They are made of fire-rated door frames and self-closing devices, so when you exit they automatically close behind you and prevent fire from catching up.

However, like many other parts of a building, fire doors can also wear and tear throughout time. That is why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, particularly NFPA 80, makes it compulsory for businesses to have their fire doors inspected at least once a year.

What is a fire door inspection?

A fire door inspection is a type of fire safety assessment done by qualified technicians for fire doors in commercial buildings. It is part of routine maintenance for homes and commercial buildings required under NFPA 80 to ensure the safety of people in an event of a fire. NFPA 80 is the standard that regulates fire doors and other opening protectives. It covers all materials and devices used to protect ingress and egress in walls, floors, and ceilings against fire exposure.

The standard can be dated back to its inception in 1916 by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Back then, the standard only focused on wooden fire doors but as fire doors evolved over the years, it now covers different types of fire doors and opening protectives. It aims to enhance fire safety in buildings and homes by ensuring proper installation, maintenance, and inspection of fire doors.

The importance of adherence to NFPA 80 cannot be overstated. In 2020 alone, the NFPA has recorded approximately 1, 291, 500 fire incidents in the United States which caused thousands of civilian lives and $14.8 billion in property damage.  Adherence to NFPA is crucial for building owners and property managers as it ensures protection against the rapid spread of fire and offers a vital line of defense in protecting both lives and properties.

Fire Door Inspection Requirements

So are fire door inspections a legal requirement? Fire doors are highly regulated by the government in the United States. The installation of fire doors can help save many lives in the event of fire so all commercial buildings all over the United States are mandated to ensure their fire doors are working properly. 

NFPA 80 recommends that fire doors must be inspected annually while certain high-traffic buildings with specific fire safety requirements may require more frequent inspections. Any businesses that are non-compliant with this regulation may face hefty penalties. 


The following are some things you can expect during a fire door inspection:

  • Fire door inspections should be performed by qualified individuals who have undergone comprehensive training in fire door installation and maintenance
  • Inspector will visually inspect each fire door for signs of damage
  • Fire doors may undergo operational testing to ensure self-closing mechanisms are still working properly
  • Inspectors will check the gaps between the door and frame to ensure they meet the standard clearance
  • Inspectors will take note of the issues during the testing so they can be addressed

Fire door inspection requirements

How Often Should Fire Doors Be Inspected?

Fire doors should be inspected every year as required under NFT 80. If a fire door fails the test, it means it did not meet the required standards and might not perform as expected. Consequently, owners would have to replace them within a specific time period to maintain fire safety in the commercial setting. 

For instance, a fire door might have a 60-minute fire rating indicating it can resist fire for an hour which can buy time for people to vacate the building. If the door burns less than 60 minutes after the operational fire testing, it means it is substandard. 


The following are some instances in which fire doors will fail the test:

  • Failure to provide adequate fire resistance after fire penetrates the surface
  • During fire testing, fire is able to penetrate through the surface albeit high fire-resistant rating
  • Smoke leaks through the gaps around the door or seals are not working properly
  • Glass breaks easily during the fire test, which signifies a failure to maintain the integrity
  • The fire door doesn’t close automatically during the testing


How Much Does A Fire Door Inspection Cost?

 The cost of fire door inspection can depend on several factors such as the size of your building and the number of fire doors that need to be inspected. Taller buildings with more than 50 fire doors can cost more than smaller buildings.

On average, a basic fire door inspection for a small to medium-sized building can cost anywhere from $200 to $800. Large buildings with a higher number of fire doors can cost more than $1,500 or more. 

It’s worth noting that several fire door inspection companies will have different rules in computing the final fee and may also offer packages. It is good to find a qualified inspector to perform the fire door test.

Who Can Inspect Fire Doors?

The NFPA 80 mandates that a person must first be certified and possess the necessary qualifications to be able to conduct door inspections. Moreover, a person performing fire door inspection must be trained with relevant fire safety standards under NFT 80. He must also have a deep understanding of fire door components, fire ratings, and safety requirements. It is important for businesses to maintain compliance with regulations, helping to enhance fire safety measures and protect people inside the building in case of a fire emergency.

Why do we need to check on a fire door?

Checking a fire door is crucial in ensuring your home or business is fire-ready. Moreover, fire safety in homes is as important as fire safety in commercial buildings. Regular inspection helps identify any issues with your fire door’s seals, functionality, and hardware. When you prioritize fire door maintenance and inspection, you can significantly enhance the overall fire safety in your home or business and provide valuable protection for occupants.

It is also worth noting that the quality of fire door materials also matter during installation and for its longevity. If you are looking for the best fire-rated doors feel free to browse through the wide selection of hardware for homes and commercial buildings at Grand Valley Lock Shop or request a free quote.


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