Smoke Guard Service Pathways: NFPA 80 and 105

Smoke and fire safety is always a primary concern for anyone involved in the building process. Architects, builders and building owners must all consider the rules and requirements for safety systems, which often vary depending on the property and how it’s being used.

For over 125 years, NFPA codes and standards have been used to help protect buildings and occupants from the potentially devastating effects of smoke and fire. The NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 codes are two of the most popular codes used for smoke protection solutions.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Bob Sullivan, NFPA’s Southwest Regional Director, to learn more about these two important codes and how to ensure smoke and fire safety products are adhering to them.

What Is the NFPA?

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Established in 1896, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global, self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.

Today, the NFPA has created more than 350 codes and standards that help minimize the risks and effects of fire by creating internationally accepted criteria for building, processing, design, service and installation.

The codes and standards are written by separate technical committees that are composed of experienced professionals, and final approval is granted by a Standards Council to ensure the integrity of each code. Typically, these codes and standards are updated every three to five years.

NFPA 80 – Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives

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Originating in 1897, NFPA 80 is one of the oldest codes in existence. Although it has been modified several times over the years, this standard regulates the installation and maintenance of assemblies and devices used to protect openings in walls, floors and ceilings against the spread of fire and smoke within, into or out of buildings.

According to Bob Sullivan, the most common issue seen with adhering to NFPA 80 is objects intentionally being placed to block fire doors, especially in warehouses.

Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Doors

The following guidelines are for fire doors, fire shutters, fire windows and opening protectives. (This does not include fire dampers, fabric fire safety curtains and fire protective curtain assemblies, which will be covered later).

  • Doors, shutters and windows shall be operable at all times; and kept clear of anything that could obstruct/interfere with them.
  • Replacements shall meet all requirements for fire protection and be installed in the same way as new installations.
  • Periodic inspection and testing shall be performed no less than annually and shall include all provisions of Section 5.2.3.

Because there are several types of doors and openings, testing and record keeping may not look the same for each application, and each door and opening needs its own individual report. Also, be sure descriptions in each record match how doors and openings are described elsewhere for easy reference.

It’s especially important to have all documentation captured in the right way for the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction, or Fire Marshall) to clearly see everything is up to code. “The more documentation you have on hand, the better. Find out what the AHJ in your area wants to see in your recordkeeping and make sure you have it on hand,” says Bob.

It is also helpful to keep the AHJ updated on the progress and timeline of any changes that need to be made. This helps create more understanding between you and the AHJ and lets them know you are actively working on solutions.

For complete information about inspection, testing and maintenance, refer to Chapter 5 of NFPA 80. There are some supplementary annex sections for inspection and testing that are useful to know, especially if the AHJ has chosen to adopt those extra standards. There are also separate requirements for testing and documentation for several other types of doors.

This information can also be found in Chapter 5:

  • Swinging fire doors
  • Horizontally or vertically sliding doors; rolling doors
  • Rolling steel fire doors

Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Dampers

The following are guidelines for fire dampers, including radiation dampers and combined fire and smoke dampers. These ratings are established based on the NFPA 90A Standard for the Installation of Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems. In the instance of combined fire and smoke dampers, requirements detailed in NFPA 105 also need to be met, which we will review next.

  • Each damper shall be tested and inspected one year after acceptance testing.
  • The test and inspection frequency shall then be every four years, except in buildings containing a hospital, where the frequency shall be every six years.
  • Testing, documentation and maintenance requirements follow similar patterns as those for fire doors.

For complete information about inspection, testing and maintenance, refer to Chapter 5 of NFPA 80.

NFPA 105 – Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Open Protectives

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First published in 1985, NFPA 105 outlines the minimum requirements for smoke door assemblies for use in providing safety to life and protection of property from smoke. NFPA 105 is based on the acknowledgment that smoke is the principal killer in destructive fires.

Historically, fire doors have been permitted to have such clearances and deflections as would permit the passage of relatively great quantities of smoke. They slowed the spread of fire but needed improvement to protect against the passage of smoke, which prompted the creation of this standard.

This standard describes how to restrict the movement of smoke through door assemblies to maintain a tenable environment. This standard also details the installation, maintenance and testing of smoke door assemblies.

Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Smoke Door Assemblies

As mentioned earlier, this code also refers to requirements found in NFPA 80. Fire and smoke-rated door assemblies also need to be tested in accordance with both NFPA 105 and NFPA 80.

  • All functional tests shall be conducted after the building’s mechanical ventilation system has been balanced and is operating.
  • All functional tests shall be conducted after the closing mechanism has been adjusted for the applicable maximum allowable opening force.
  • Similar testing, maintenance and documentation requirements as those listed for NFPA 80 – check the standard for specific requirements and any differences from NFPA 80.

NFPA 105 also contains additional information about the following protectives:

  • Smoke Dampers (see also NFPA 80) – Chapter 7
  • Smoke-Protective Curtain Assemblies – Chapter 8
  • Smoke-Protective Curtain Assemblies for Hoistways – Chapter 9

How To Look Up NFPA Standards

”Depending on the building, codes can work together hand-in-hand,” says Bob. “It’s often common for one NFPA standard to refer to other NFPA standards within their description.” This is why it’s important to know how to look up and reference codes on the NFPA website.

You do not have to be an NFPA member to access the website, and it’s free to access each standard. However, you must be a member or an AHJ to use the Ask A Technical Question feature.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to look up codes. This method can be used to find any code listed on the site:

1. On the NFPA homepage, hover your mouse over the Codes & Standards tab to access a drop-down menu.

2. Click on List of NFPA Codes & Standards

3. Once on the Codes & Standards page, you can locate a code two ways:

  • Type the code number or name in the Search bar.
  • Scroll through the Codes & Standards listed below the Search bar until you find the code you’re looking for.

4. Your search will then bring up the Document Information Page, which will provide the latest information and updates about the standard, as well as information about the technical committee, news or related products and training.

5. By clicking Free Access and selecting the edition you want to see, you will be asked to Log In or Create a Profile. It’s free to create a profile.

6. Once you are signed in, you will need to agree to the NFPA Terms and Conditions and will then get full access to the code you are searching for.

NFPA LiNK™

The NFPA also has a new subscription service available that provides quick, digital access to NFPA codes and standards. With subscriptions starting at $9.99 a month, NFPA LiNK utilizes dynamic search functionality, bookmarking and the ability to share and collaborate with others to save time. There is a one-time 14-day free trial available for LiNK.

NFPA Training Resources

The NFPA has several training resources available online, including classes on NFPA 80. Online courses are provided in a variety of ways, including pre-recorded, “learn at your own pace” training or live instruction.

Click here to see the training classes available, which include:

  • ITM for Fire and Life Safety Online Training
  • NFPA 80 (2016) Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Requirements for Swinging Fire Doors Online Training
  • NFPA 80 (2016) Balancing Safety and Security with Fire Doors, Dampers and Door Locking
  • Online Training Series (Divided into modules)
  • Swinging Fire Door Inspection Online Training

Make Sure Your Building Is Up to Code

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NFPA requirements are necessary not only to meet code requirements but also to ensure your building, equipment and personnel are protected in the event of a fire. Smoke can often do just as much, if not more damage than fire. By utilizing smoke curtains in conjunction with other mitigation systems, you can help protect your building and your assets.

The most effective way to ensure that you are meeting NFPA requirements is to have a specialist visit the site to help visualize your building and its needs. Smoke Guard offers afull range of products to give your building the best coverage and peace of mind. Contact the smoke and fire containment specialists at Smoke Guard today.