Fire-Rated Openings with Electronic Access Control and Low-Energy Power Operators

This article appears in this month’s issue of the DHI Door Security + Safety Magazine and was reprinted here with their permission.

Balancing the need to protect property and keep lives safe while still meeting code requirements.

The mission of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) is “[being] devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards,” and NFPA does this, in part, with its 300 codes and standards.

As door and hardware industry professionals, it’s our duty to understand the NFPA code requirements to help architects, owners, and general contractors make smart choices about the types of hardware used throughout their buildings to not only meet codes, but also to keep property and lives safe from harm.

Fire-rated doors are required in numerous locations throughout a commercial building, and they are used as part of a passive fire protection system to reduce the spread of fire and smoke between different wings (or compartments) of the structure. It is a critical aspect for allowing people time to safely exit a building.

Electronic access control devices have become a sought-out request of customers looking for convenience and security, yet the openings have become more multifaceted to specify, as the products have become more complex. In addition, the NFPA codes change every three years meaning requirements may change.

The steps to properly specifying a building for your customer are first, understand whether the opening needs to be fail-safe or fail-secure and second, to know which hardware meets the fail-safe/fail-secure fire code requirements.

Fail-safe: This is a term used to describe an electric lock that has a mechanical state of being locked and requires power to unlock it. This type of device unlocks when power is removed. In this scenario, when power is interrupted, fails, or the fire signal is activated, the doors automatically unlock allowing people to safely transfer from one side of the compartment to the other (i.e., exit the building).

Fail-secure: This is a term used to describe an electric lock that has a mechanical state of being unlocked and requires power to lock it. This type of device locks when power is removed. When the fire signal is activated and/or the power is removed, the door stays in a secured position from the key side while still allowing free egress.

UL as It Applies to Fire Rating

The second key element to properly specifying fire-rated openings is to understand which hardware meets the fail-safe/fail-secure fire code requirements. This begins with the testing facility ratings, which are commonly referred to as “UL Ratings” in our industry as defined by Underwriters Laboratories, LLC (UL), one of the most recognized testing facilities. Any accredited Third Party Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) can perform the UL10C test – the test pertaining to functionality and fire safety.

NFPA80 is the code that pertains to fire-rated openings. NFPA80 (2015 Edition) states in part, “Power operated fire doors shall be equipped with a releasing device that shall automatically disconnect the power operator at the time of fire, allowing a self-closing or automatic device to close and latch the door regardless of power failure or manual operation.”

This means that any fire-door that is equipped with an auto-operator must be connected to a fire alarm, but keep in mind, not all auto-operators are UL-rated for fire. Some are only UL-rated for electrical. When specifying a building, it is important to know which door hardware is specifically rated for fire and which is not.

Building Walk-Through with Applications

Ideally, the process of specifying the building involves meeting with the architect to understand how the building will function. Sheryl Simon, CSI, CDT, senior architectural specifications consultant with Hager Companies, notes that “walking around the project on paper” with the architect is the best way to understand the project – what the owners want. “Otherwise, we are just making assumptions.”

Let’s look at a simple, 10-openings-or-less commercial office space, where the owner wants electronic access control on all openings. One way to accomplish this request is below.

Entry Door

The front doors will be fitted with electric latch retraction devices, which electro-mechanically control your door. There are two types: solenoid driven and motorized.

  • The solenoid latch retraction devices retract the latch but do not retract the push-pad. They also consume more power and often require a manufacturer-specific power supply.
  • The motorized latch retraction devices retract the latch and the push-pad. They consume less power and do not require a manufacturer-specific power supply. They are often the ideal choice for buildings where noise is a consideration, such as schools, hospitals and assisted living facilities.

In the case of fitting this office building with the right type of electronic access control device, the locks on the entry door will be fail-secure and non-fire-rated. As noted earlier in this article, when power is lost to fail-secure locking devices, the doors remain in a locked position but permits free egress and allow people to safely exit the building.  A Knox Box holding a master key to the building is mounted on the exterior of the building, so emergency services such as the fire department can gain access through the entry doors.

Computer Room

For security reasons, the owner has expressed that he wants this door locked at all times. The space also requires a fire-rated door to protect the equipment. In this situation, electronic access control can provide access to only a few individuals and the lock will be fail-secure in the form of either an electric strike with a storeroom lock set or an electrified lock set. That way, in the event of fire, the door will stay in the locked position – protecting the equipment in the room.

Office Door

The electronic access control can be either battery-operated or hardwired, depending on the owner’s preference. Most will choose battery-powered for the lower installation costs. In this scenario, the lockset will be fail-secure allowing people to safely exit the room in the event of a fire but leaving the door in a secured position. The door’s fire rating will help dictate which electronic access control is installed, as some are rated for 45 minutes while others are rated for 90 minutes.

Low-Energy ADA-Compliant Operators

Another consideration is compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires any public or private building to provide accessibility to everyone. Some examples include hotels, restaurants, mixed-use buildings, private schools and sports stadiums.

Installed above the door, a low-energy power operator behaves similar to a door closer as it controls the opening and closing of a door. Referring to the speed at which the door opens and closes, a “low-energy” power operator requires a “knowing act”.

Low-energy power operators allow access in and out of buildings, but they can also be installed on the interior of buildings in conjunction with fire doors. A good example is a hospital or school where a pair of doors connect to another wing of the building.

“Whether or not it’s a fire door, the low-energy operator is going to act the same way. It’s going to open when the actuator is pushed under normal conditions, but in the event of a fire alarm, the door needs to close and latch, preventing the door from opening and containing the spread of fire and smoke,” says Gordon Holmes, product manager for Hager Companies.

These two actions with the same opening contradict each other, and those who don’t understand the door and hardware industry can easily be confused by this.

“Most buildings are going to have a fire door located in them, and the distributor or installer(s) have to know how that works,” says Gordon. “The easiest way to explain it is by separating the two actions. In everyday use, there has to be a knowing act, so you push that plate and the door opens. When the fire alarm goes off, those openings have to be secured and shut.”

The door and hardware industry is on the forefront of making our buildings more secure environments to live, work, and play. The rapid development and lower cost threshold of technology is driving the implementation of electronic access control in our schools, hospitals, hotels, high-rise apartment buildings, nursing care facilities, and more.

As professionals in this ever-advancing industry, it’s our responsibility to provide customers with the best product choices while matching their security needs and meeting codes requirements.



Brian Clarke, DHT, AHC, DHC, CFDAI, CTD, CSI
is director of the Architectural Specifications Department and Technical Support at Hager Companies. Email: [email protected]

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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]

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Understanding Today’s Access Control Solutions

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

Electronic access control systems offer an effective way to control and manage access for facilities large and small. From retail and office space to education, government, healthcare, and multifamily complexes, today’s systems are versatile enough to not only meet current needs but also have the ability to expand in the future – giving you and your clients the peace of mind of knowing they are making a sound investment.

Electronic access control technology delivers value beyond security and safety by also providing valuable business intelligence – allowing you to monitor who is entering and leaving your facilities, time and duration of visits, traffic flow and more.

TYPES OF ACCESS CONTROL TECHNOLOGY
Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all answer doesn’t work with today’s designs, access control technology is a diverse solution to secure any new or existing facility. Here’s an overview of three types of electronic access control solutions.

Stand-Alone Access Control
With stand-alone access control technology, all the decisions are made at the lock, by the lock. A stand-alone lock needs to be told what access to be given, so if a company wants to add – or delete – a user, they must physically go to the lock to reprogram it using a handheld device.

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Team Member Profile – Sheryl Simon, CSI, CDT – Manager, Architectural Specification Consultants

Sheryl Simon has been with Hager Companies for 13 years and was recently promoted to Manager, Architectural Specifications Consultants. We sat down with Sheryl to ask her a few questions.

Sheryl Simon at one of the many CSI STL events she volunteers for. Sheryl currently is 2nd VP for the chapter. Photo credit: George Everding

Childhood AmbitionI was always interested in design. (I’m not sure if it’s an ambition or an obsession.) Even as a young child I was always re-arranging the furniture. My parents never knew what to expect when they came home. 

First JobWorking at a very busy ice cream stand. The lines seemed to never end but it was fun interacting with all the customers. 

What led you to the hardware industry: I married into it and very quickly became a hardware geek. 

Proudest professional momentWhen I passed my CDT. It is a very difficult exam and required a lot of studying. 

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Friday Fun

At Hager, we are passionate about door hardware. It’s one of the reasons we added locks, exit devices, and door controls to our product line several years ago.  Last year we partnered with Salto Systems to create our Hager powered by Salto electronic access control line. Our goal is to provide our customers with the products, service, knowledge, and partnership to elevate the value they bring to the channel.

Yet, we can’t forget our history so today we are going to throw it back a few decades with a light-hearted post.

These cartoons were created from the “inspired pens of America’s most famous cartoonists” – Tom Henderson, Virgil Partch, Lichty, Irwin Caplan, and Larry Reynolds in 1952 for our “Everything Hinges on Hager” campaign.  Let us know if any resonate with you!

Monday was Labor Day which marked the official end of summer, but there is still time to get out and enjoy the sun (make sure to lather up with sunscreen!).

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Product Announcements

We’ve had a busy first quarter and we wanted to share our most recent product announcements in case you missed any!

January 8, 2018 – 3300 Series Grade 3
We added the 3300 Series Grade 3 tubular leverset to our lock line. Offered in four functions – passage, privacy, entry and single dummy, along with five finishes: US3, US10B, US15, US26, US26D. It’s field reversible with a thru-bolt design for ease of installation. This Grade 3 lock provides a perfect solution for multi-family and assisted living facilities when suiting with Grade 1 and Grade 2 products.

 

 

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Case Studies

We are constantly asking our sales representatives for projects that we can use in case studies and project profiles.  With blogs and social media now part of mainstream reading, content marketing has become imperative in order to share your brand and message.

We asked Tess Wittler, an experienced construction marketing professional, to share why case studies are important for our, and your, business and how it isn’t as daunting as one may think to write one. This article was published in November’s issue of the DHI Doors + Hardware Magazine and reprinted with their permission.
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The Framework for Writing a Compelling Case Study by Tess Wittler

Does hearing the phrase, “We need a case study written on [blank]” make you cringe? If you are like many other architects, engineers and building material manufacturers I’ve worked with, you would rather pluck out every single nose hair one by one than write a case study. For ages, writing a case study in this industry seemed daunting and tiring, and when it was finished, it seemed as if you’d spent all this energy to create a dry, boring marketing piece that would rarely be used.

Not so! Content marketing has transformed how we look at our marketing materials, including case studies. In fact, according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Trends – North America study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs, 82 percent of those responding said they use case studies as one of their content marketing tactics – second only to social media content (other than blogs).

Yes, despite so many in the building industry recognizing that they need to invest more in their content marketing efforts, many still aren’t – and their lack of energy toward this effort is precisely the opportunity that can catapult your organization ahead of the rest. Case studies are one of the key components to making this happen.

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Project Profile: International Training Center (Phase V)

Project Profile:             International Training Center (Phase V)

Client:                            United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America

Architect:                       Carlile Coatsworth Architects

General Contractor:     Penta Building Group

Distributor:                    Hallgren – Las Vegas

Installers:                       American Door Installation

Door Openings:            200

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) maintains its International Training Center (ITC) in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the completion of Phase V this campus consists of nearly a million square feet. At the core of this facility are the training areas that will keep union carpenters skills up to date with emerging technology.

Phase V comprises a 223,000 square feet building which houses 30 classrooms, a working shop, ballrooms and a museum/lobby area. There are over two dozen custom display cases dispersed throughout the lobby full of historic UBC artifacts. More …

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Project Profile – Ballpark Village

Baseball season is in swing and in St. Louis that means a sea of red will be worn from now until October.  We had the distinct honor of being part of the construction team on the new Ballpark Village located next to Busch Stadium that opened last fall.

Architect:                              Design Collective, Inc.
Developer:                           The Cordish Companies
General Contractor:           The Paric Corporation
Distributor:                           H&G/Schultz Door

As soon as the project was announced our specification team offered their services. Using all grade one commercial hardware due to the high use and abuse the door openings will receive the architect specifically liked our Roton 1200-600XHD continuous geared hinges with a round cover channel.
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Door Hardware Submittals

Door hardware is approximately 1% of a total construction project and yet it is definitely one of the most challenging.

The definition of a door hardware submittal is a collection of documents that contain all the pertinent information to complete a project. This compilation is based on the project manual, drawings and field conditions.

It is imperative the door hardware schedule is correct as the general contractor and several sub-contractors, ie. painters, masons, framers & electricians, use the schedule to help in their field of work. Once the project has been completed the owner/end user can use the hardware schedule for maintenance and upkeep. More …

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