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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Cheering on the St. Louis Blues!

It’s not every day the hometown hockey team plays well enough to be in the Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, it’s the St. Louis Blues first time since 1970 and considering they were in last place on January 3rd, the town and Hager Companies is going wild.

Our team is excited to continue to cheer the Blues on in their quest for the Stanley Cup, and we showed that enthusiasm this week with a Spirit contest judged today by some extraordinary people.

If you’ve been following the Blues you’ve probably seen Laila Anderson cheering them on. Laila is a huge Blues fan and had the chance to meet Colton Parayko, one of her favorite players, at an event held at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Laila is fighting HLH, a systemic inflammatory disease. Her battle, at just 11 years of age, inspired Parayko and the two developed a friendship since that first meeting.

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DHI Leadership Development Xperience (LDX)

This week’s blog post was written by Doug Laflamme with Smoot Associates, our sales representatives in the Massachusets, New Hampshire area about his experience at the DHI Leadership Development Xperience.

A month ago, I had the chance to attend the DHI Leadership Development Xperience held at DHI headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia.  At the time I was not sure what to expect, but I thought it would be a good experience for me being so new to the industry.  Thankfully my place of work is very supportive of DHI and allowed me to take the time to go (Thanks Bill).

Photo courtesy of DHI

The conference was filled with things I expected such as helpful insight on the future of DHI, new credentials and resources, and group brainstorming sessions.  LDX also opened our minds to things I was not expecting, things like how we can increase members in our chapter and where we as members could take the new DHI. LDX was full of ideas, and activities to help us think outside the box when it comes to how our chapters could be run, as well as videos, plans and collaborative thinking about leadership, things that make a great leader and how to become one of those leaders.  It also taught us that there is no right or wrong way to run our chapter and its ok to run our chapters differently than it has been run in the past.

Perhaps the most important and overlooked portion of the conference that I did not realize before I went on this trip is all the great people I would be able to meet and the relationships with those people I was able to build.  It was great to meet people in our industry from other parts of the country, put faces to names, as well learn a little more about the people I interact with through emails so often.  I also got to spend some time with my chapters DHI President Jim White and get to know him better as well.  This was the part of LDX that was most important to me.  I believe the relationships we build in this industry to invaluable.

Photo courtesy of DHI

The DHI Leadership Development Xperience was a truly great experience that left us invigorated with new ideas and fresh wind in our sails ready to take back to our local chapter.  I would recommend the DHI Leadership conference to anyone who has the opportunity to attend.

Thanks, Doug for sharing your experience! Hager Companies has had a corporate membership with DHI for decades and our President and COO, Josh Hager, currently sits on the Board of Governors.

 

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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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Tiny Houses

Affordable housing is drifting further out of reach, especially for people who have had to face many challenges. Enter Dianne Marshak with Social Justice 4 All. Social Justice 4 All, a group of Catholics and other Christians from West St. Louis County, had been looking for a project to help people who were homeless transition off the streets.  This coming after a trip to Chicago where Dianne encountered several people who were homeless and was moved to do something to help.

Social Justice 4 All learned about the Solomon Project, a 12-year-old project to provide affordable housing in north St. Louis, from the North Grand Neighborhood Services (NGNS). During a panel discussion on homelessness, it was suggested that tiny homes could help people transition out of homelessness. As the discussion continued a teacher from Rockwood Summit High School (website) volunteered his students to build the houses. The Tiny Houses Project was born and a commitment of three tiny homes, measuring 14′ x 26′, was made.

Hager’s involvement began when a former employee now retired, reached out with an appeal for a donation of the door hardware for the exterior doors on each tiny home.  The Hager family, without hesitation, said yes. With Johnston Hager, VP of Residential Sales and National Accounts, as Hager’s point person our internal residential customer service expert, Angelia McGraw, worked with Dianne to make sure the door hardware fit the preps on the doors that the students at Rockwood Summit High School had built.

Today, there are two tiny houses on permanent foundations in the City of St. Louis. Interiors are being worked on and both homes are expected to be ready for occupancy later this year. Once both of these homes are ready for new residents the third tiny house will be built on site.

Hager Companies was honored to participate in this worthwhile project. For more information, or if you’d like to get involved, check out Social Justice 4 All’s website here.

We were touched when Dianne Marshak came by the office to present Johnston with a plaque thanking Hager Companies for the door hardware donation. The plaque was made by the students at Rockwood Summit High School, which made it exceptionally special. We were happy to play a part, along with many other companies and individuals, in providing tiny homes for people who just need a hand.

Dianne Marshak with Social Justice 4 All and Johnston Hager

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Concave vs. Convex Wall Stops

Wall and floor stops are inexpensive products that, when installed correctly, can help prevent damage to a wall, lockset or door. If a door is forcefully pushed open, a stop is meant to protect the wall from being gouged by the door or lockset, and it will also protect the door hardware from being damaged by a quick meeting with the wall.

 

Wall and floor stops come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can be mounted on the wall or on the floor behind the door.  For this post, we are going to focus on concave and convex wall stops.

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Safe Schools Week October 21-27, 2018

Every week is safe schools week in our book, but in1984 the National School Safety Center (NSSC) designated a special week to recognize the successes of quintessential school, district, state, and national programs.

Per the NSSC website, the goal of this campaign is to “motivate key education and law enforcement policymakers, as well as students, parents and community residents, to vigorously advocate school safety. School safety includes keeping campuses free from crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance.”

Doors, with the correct hardware, play an essential role in providing safety and security to students, teachers, and personnel. Have you ever thought about how many doors you walk through when you enter a school? Was there an open gate when you entered the campus? Was the building’s perimeter door unlocked, so you were able to walk right in? How many doors did you pass before you reached the office?  Recently constructed schools are designed to direct the flow of visitors to help control access to the campus. Often, older schools were built to be more accessible, allowing opportunities for non-authorized people to enter freely, without having visitors check-in.

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Electronic Access Controls on Historic Buildings: Hager Companies Headquarters

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

Historic buildings pose a unique security challenge. By their very nature they are outdated – from the original materials to antique hardware, they exist to showcase just how different things used to be. However, progress has often happened for a reason, and one of the leading reasons is security.

Antique door hardware may have been built to last, manufactured from heavy-duty metals, but modern security issues require more than physical strength. Access credentials, controlled entry, and electronic logging are all emerging as security necessities. Fortunately, electronic access control systems are built to seamlessly and almost invisibly integrate into projects, including historic buildings where authenticity is paramount.

There are several access control systems that feature scalable parts that integrate wirelessly into a central control system with queriable reports, but when the time came to upgrade the Hager headquarters, the obvious choice was HS4, Hager powered by Salto, the security system recently rolled out by Hager Companies.

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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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