Best Practices for Thresholds, Weatherstripping, and Fire Safety by Dan White

This article appears in the June issue of the DHI Security + Safety Magazine and is reprinted here with their permission.

An array of products installed in commercial buildings affect life safety, many of which require a UL listing. While not the largest or most glamorous materials, thresholds, weatherstripping, and gasketing products serve as barriers to fire and smoke inhalation, and while small in size, they are some of the biggest contributors to preserving life.

What is the UL Label?
Underwriters Laboratories, LLC (UL) has been around for more than 125 years and is known across multiple industries as a leader in global safety. Their simple mission, “Working for a safer world since 1894,” is at the core of everything they do. According to their website, “We conscientiously advance safety science through careful research and investigation, applying our efforts to prevent or reduce loss of life and property and to promote safe living and working environments for all people.”[1]

UL certifications can be found on hundreds of building material products, including door assemblies. “Our fire safety team evaluates a wide range of products for fire resistance and performance, including door frames, locks, closers, hinges, and other door accessories,” notes the UL website.[2]

UL as It Applies to Fire Door Inspections
NFPA 80: Standards for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives covers the installation, care, and maintenance of many types of fires doors and opening protectives. Specifically, this code requires that all fire door assemblies be inspected and tested annually. The inspector will check the door for a number of items pertaining to functionality and fire safety, as well as for the UL label – signifying the product has passed the UL10C testing standard.

What’s important to note is that for certain door opening components, the UL label is not required to be on the product. For kick plates mounted below 16”, thresholds and weatherstripping, the UL rating is instead on the packaging. Therefore, during an inspection, because a visible UL label is not on these products as they are on doorframes, wood doors, door closers or latches, this can trigger a request for additional documentation to ensure UL ratings. The building owner is wise to have this documentation on file so the fire inspector can easily review and compare the installation to the standard.

However, even though the UL10C test standard was originally created through collaboration with UL, any accredited Third Party Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) can perform the UL10C test and apply a label. Case in point, some manufacturers use Intertek as their listing agency; therefore, products may be labeled by UL and Intertek (ETL)

Smoke & Fire Testing
The job of weatherstripping and thresholds is two part. The obvious job – and the one that most people think about – is that it blocks drafts, dirt and provides a sound barrier. The second job – the one many in our industry would argue is the more important one – is its job is to prevent smoke and fire from traveling from one compartment to the next, as smoke inhalation is the main cause of death in a fire. The job of these products, in short, is to save lives.

Inspectors test several areas of infiltration on an opening, such as temperature, sound, water (in hurricane-prone states), smoke and fire. Let’s take a closer look at the testing for smoke and fire infiltration.

Thresholds
“When it comes to fire, thresholds are not required unless it is a pressurized compartment, such as a stairwell in a high-rise building,” explains Brian Clarke, AHC, CDT Director, Architectural Specifications for Hager Companies. The NFPA standard allows for ¾” clearance at the bottom of a fire or smoke door as long as it is not a pressurized compartment.

Thresholds are tested to the UL10C – the Standard for Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assembly. “During a fire, the ultimate goal is that the door is able to stay closed and that the fire stays on one side of the door,” explains Mark McRae, Director of Engineering for Hager Companies. In basic terms, the UL10C test looks at the materials used in the door assembly and whether or not they sustain a flame for five seconds or less – which the standard allows.

In the case of fire and smoke testing, the door assembly must meet UL10C and UL1784 – the Standard for Safety Air Leakage and Door Assembly.

“When it comes to smoke, seals are tested by how much smoke penetrates in the first 20 minutes,” notes Brian. “Unfortunately, after 20 minutes, a person will die from smoke inhalation.”

An example of press-on weather strip that would be tested in the Smoke and Draft Test/Category H – a test for smoke that does not involve fire. This product controls the smoke from going from one side of the door to the other.

“In the case of thresholds, too many people don’t give them a lot of thought. Besides ensuring that dirt and debris stay on the outside, they are also a critical component to life safety in the event of a fire,” notes Ginny Powell, Product Marketing Specialist for Hager Companies.

Weatherstripping & Gasketing Products
Doors and frames may be “fire rated” for a set amount of time, from 20 minutes up to 180 minutes, but it is important to note that at the end of the test, the product will not be intact. Weatherstripping is a silicone, neoprene or vinyl insert housed in aluminum. It may be fire-rated for 90 minutes, but the product will not be there after a fire test. It will melt. What is key to the test is that it does not impede the door or the frame passing the test.

There are three different categories of weatherstripping – all of which relate back to what happens to the weatherstripping during a fire: Fire Test | Category J: These products do not contribute to flaming during a fire. Examples are gaskets used for sound, draft control or automatic door bottoms.

  • Fire Test | Category J: These products do not contribute to flaming during fire. Examples are gaskets used for sound, draft control or automatic door bottoms.
  • Smoke and Draft Test | Category H: This is a separate, second test for smoke that does not involve fire. These products control the smoke from going from one side of the door to the other.
  • Fire Test| Category G: This product is a gasket with an edge-sealing system, usually manufactured with intumescent materials, meaning this material will swell to many times its original size during a fire and help contain the spread of fire by sealing the edges of the door.

New and existing fire doors are classified/labeled by one of the following designation systems: hourly rating, alphabetical rating or a combination of both (as the chart illustrates). The manufacturer’s specifications will detail the fire rating and best uses.

Installation
Following the manufacturer’s instructions is just as crucial to maintain the integrity of the seal as is the product itself. “Some specs require a continuous seam all the way around the opening, so the installer needs to be careful not to cut or notch the seal, as those will create gaps,” says Brian.

For example, in an aluminum-extruded smoke seal, the product needs to either be wide enough to allow for the surface-supplied hardware to be attached or brackets must be supplied to mount over the seal so the surface mounted hardware can mount to it. In either case, the template needs to be adjusted for the products that have surface mounted components. “One of the most common mistakes we see made is not adjusting for this when ordering doors,” says Brian. “The door cannot be modified out in the field because it is fire rated, and their answer is to just cut the seal. When you do this, the seal is now going to fail inspection.”

A UL listed meeting stile astragal used to seal a gap

A Door Isn’t Just a Door
Throughout the door and hardware industry, we are known to say that a door isn’t just a door. It’s about the life and safety of people. It is definitely the case when it comes to smoke and fire. When you have the right products on the opening, something as simple as a gasket can make all the difference between life or death.

Press-On Weatherstripping Best Practices:

[1] Source: https://www.ul.com/aboutul/

[2] Source: https://industries.ul.com/building-materials/doors

Dan White is a product development manager
and can be reached at [email protected]

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The Lowdown on Low-Energy Power Operators by Gordon Holmes

This article appears in the February issue of the DHI Security + Safety Magazine and is reprinted here with their permission.

Specifying door hardware can sometimes feel like a juggling act. Securing the building is often the first thought when considering door hardware. Determining who will have access to what areas and when can be confounding. On top of building and user requirements specifiers must also consider ADA laws, fire and life safety codes that dictate the types of hardware and how they are installed. Depending on the door opening several codes can interplay, and the door hardware must comply with every code and law.

Low-energy power operators have been designed with a few of these specific requirements in mind in order to provide easier accessibility through doorways. Functioning on the same principle as a door closer that controls the opening and closing of a door, “low-energy” refers only to the speed at which the door opens and closes. Low energy operators require a “knowing act. To open the door a person would need to push a button or pull on a handle, which engages control over the door.

The 2013 Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) Standard ANSI/BHMA A156.19 – American National Standard for Power Assist and Low Energy Power Operator Doors define a “knowing act” as follows:

“Consciously initiating the powered opening of a low-energy power door using acceptable methods including: wall or jamb-mounted contact switches such as push plates; fixed non-contact switches; the action of manual opening (pushing or pulling) a door; and controlled access devices such as keypads, card readers, and key switches.”

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Fifty Years

We’re lucky here at Hager. We have several colleagues that have had long careers at Hager and generously share their knowledge and wisdom mentoring employees with less experience. Dave Lewis is one such person.

Dave celebrated fifty years with Hager last year, and today he officially retires.  The good news is he isn’t going far. Dave will be working part-time with our local sales agency, Horizon Marketing Group.

Here are a few photos of Dave throughout the years.

Dave Lewis & Rusty Hager

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A message from Josh Hager, President and COO of Hager Companies

In this time of gratitude, we thank you. It has been our pleasure to work alongside you, and we sincerely appreciate our many collaborative customer relationships and the opportunity to serve the channel.

Over the past year, we have made a tremendous effort to bring more value to our customers, by investing in significant production line enhancements in our Montgomery, AL facility, including the installation of an anodizing line and a new machining center to support our Roton continuous hinge production. We have also installed state-of-the-art automated pinning and keying equipment in the lock department. The value of these investments will allow for greater efficiencies, greater quality, and shorter production times, resulting in more value for our customers.

In addition, we continue to introduce new products across 12 categories and remain focused on improvements to further support our channel partners. Our introduction of HS4 Access Controls powered by Salto Systems allows Hager to incorporate our mechanical locking products into an industry-leading electronic access control platform. Our partners will expand their business while maintaining a relationship with one brand that provides a complete product solution to virtually any project. Our focus on devising a world-class access control system that is simple to use, extremely efficient without complex or expensive wiring and cost-effective. This provides a perfect fit for Hager and the value that we try, every day, to bring to the industry and our valued partners.

It remains our goal to be a singular brand that brings a complete line of quality door hardware solutions to the marketplace, building stability, value, and support throughout the process. You can count on Hager to be your one point of contact with one purchase order for all your hardware needs.

In 2018, we will continue to stand alongside our contract hardware distributors and wholesale partners to fully recognize and respect the value of the channel. We are dedicated to the relationships we have fostered over the last 168 years, and we will continue to strive to be your number one source within the industry.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Josh Hager
President and COO
Hager Companies

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Project Profile: Community Education Building, Wilmington Delaware

In its second year, the Great Oaks Charter School is part of a collection of schools that includes Academia Antonia Alonso School and Kuumba Academy. The building was originally a bank, operating as MBNA then Bank of America. It was donated in 2012 by Bank of America to the Longwood Foundation to start the Community Education Building (CEB).

Owner:                                     Community Education Building

Architect:                                  Homsey Architects, Inc.

General Contractor:                 Wohlsen Construction

Distributor:                               Premier Door, Frame and Hardware

Hager Sales Rep. Agency:      Hardware Specialty Group

 

Hager Company Hardware in CBE School in Wilmington DE Oct 2015 credit photograph by Eric Crossan 302-378-1700

 

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Find Hager in MasterSpecs

Helping customers, architects and specification writers save time and produce accurate specs is a priority at Hager Companies.  Currently our specifications can be found at ARCAT and BSD SpecLink.

We are pleased to announce we have also added Product MasterSpec as a specification resource for Hager specs.  Covering over 1700 sections in their comprehensive library, MasterSpec specifications are able to be customized and include images along with reference standards.

“It is an additional tool to increase Hager’s overall service to the design community” says John Cohrs, AHC, CDC, CCPR, Director of Specifications for Hager.

Cohrs also noted: “with an in-house team of specifications writers and architectural representatives we are ready to assist you with complimentary Architectural Hardware Consulting (AHC) services to help you navigate the spec process.  Utilizing ARCAT, BSD SpecLink and Product Master Specs allows a 24/7/365 resource for the design community.”

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your specifications needs give John a call at 314-633-2823 or email [email protected]

 

 

 

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A Guest Post by Jill Gile – Importance of Technology

Jill Gile works as an Architectural Specifications Representative with the Commencement Bay Architectural Group NW who just launched their new website. She writes about technology and the door and hardware industry.
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Importance of Technology

Door hardware is an “old-school” business. There have been a few technological advances over the years, and electrified hardware is a big leap forward, but the industry as a whole is pretty low tech. Sales reps still rely on face-to-face contact with their clients. Buying hardware for an entire project is still done with purchase orders and paperwork.

As a result, the hardware business is a little behind the curve on the internet, especially social networking. Some reps are on LinkedIn (but many of them aren’t actually linking up with anyone). A few sales agencies have websites, but they aren’t much more than a home page with a logo. Many manufacturers websites aren’t much better.

As a newcomer to the business, I was surprised at first. When trying to connect with new colleagues or clients, I often hit a wall on the internet – the names were out there, but there was no way to connect. Websites would have an “under construction” logo that was clearly from 1995. LinkedIn requests would go unanswered. Researching information would lead to rabbit holes returning to the same website with a PDF that wouldn’t download.

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Project Profile: Fireweed Center, Anchorage Alaska

We were excited to be part of this innovative building project located in Anchorage, Alaska. As you can imagine any building constructed in one of the coldest areas in the United States would be a challenge.  Automated intelligent windows that transition to control light and heat and vacuum insulated panels spandrels for increased thermal performance were just a few ways Fireweed Center met and exceeded those challenges.

Project Name:              Fireweed Center
Owner:                           CIRI
Architect:                       RIM Architects
General Contractor:    Davis Constructors & Engineers
Distributor:                    Summit Windows & Doors
Sales Agency:              Commencement Bay Architectural Group, LLC
Hager Products:          Full Hager Package

 

IMG_20150901_090040845

IMG_20150901_090115560

IMG_20150901_110933815Hager 4500 Series Exit Device

IMG_20150901_111046354Hager 3800 Series Mortise Lock and 190S Series Protection Plate

IMG_20150901_111420342Hager 3800 Series Mortise Lock

 

You can read more about this project on Fireweed Center’s website here. Thanks to Paul Patino, of Commencement Bay Architectural Group, for sharing this project and photos.  If you would like information on these or other Hager products please contact your local representative or call our Customer Service Department at 800-255-3590.

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1st Annual CONSTRUCT Young Professionals / Student Day

There has been a lot of recent discussion on the sparsity of young professionals in the AEC community. This is evident when looking at the attendance of the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI) and Construction Specification Institute (CSI) monthly meetings and annual trade shows. We need to encourage more young professionals to enter the many fields offered in the architectural, engineering & construction industries.

Cindy Barrand with Informa, who presents the CONSTRUCT show in conjunction with the CSI Annual Convention, decided to do something about it. She created a special package for young professionals (max 35 years of age) and students that offered education, a full day specifically designed for them, networking events and a few social occasions, spanning 4 days of the convention all for a reduced price.

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