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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Classroom Barricade Devices

Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous news articles from across the country referencing school security initiatives and several discussed the use of classroom barricade devices. As a door hardware manufacturer, this is concerning because these types of devices often do not meet life safety or fire codes requiring free egress, fire protection, or ADA accessibility.

In March of this year, the Bremen Public School District, located in Indiana, developed a new school safety initiative plan. Several levels of security are being added, including upgrading their card access system. Unfortunately, in the article that reported these upgrades, it stated “the safety plan also includes the addition of a classroom barricade device. The devices are magnetic and slide onto the back piece of the door to barricade the door and keep intruders from entering a classroom if they break the lock. The devices are already being distributed to classrooms.”¹

In 2018, the State of Indiana released a School Safety Recommendations document which specifically included verbiage on classroom door hardware.

Under Recommendation #11
“Replace classroom door hardware to ensure fire and building code compliance. The door must lock from the inside and not restrict exiting or egress from the classroom or building. This could reduce the number of non-compliant tactics being used (such as magnets) to allow easier re-entry access by students during class time.”²

Another recent news article described how a former lecturer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began to discuss procedures to be followed in the event of an active shooter situation. However, before the lecturer began speaking, he noticed that the classroom doors did not have locks on the inside of the doors.

Concerned, the lecturer did reach out to the University’s Facilities Service advising them of this safety concern and suggestions on how to fix it, including the use of deadbolts. The article went on to share that the concerns were forward to the UNL’s Police Department’s Assistant Chief of Police, who in turn, did reply that deadbolts were not a viable solution as “fire code prohibits the use of deadbolts in classroom spaces.”³ Listening to officials who understand building and life safety codes is vital in having code-compliant hardware.

The 2018 edition of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes in Chapter 15 for Existing Education Occupancies:

15.2.2.4 Classroom Door Locking to Prevent Unwanted Entry
Classroom doors shall be permitted to be locked to prevent unwanted entry provided that the locking means is approved and all the following conditions are met:

  1. The locking means shall be capable of being engaged without opening the door.
  2. The unlocking and unlatching from the classroom side of the door can be accomplished without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort.
  3. The releasing mechanism for unlocking and unlatching shall be located at a height not less than 34 in. *865 mm) and not exceeding 48 in. (1220 mm) above the finished floor.
  4. Locks, if remotely engaged, shall be unlockable from the classroom side of the door without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort.
  5. The door shall be capable of being unlocked and opened from outside the room with the necessary key or other credentials.
  6. The locking means shall not modify the door closer, panic hardware, or fire exit hardware.
  7. Modifications to the fire door assemblies, including door hardware, shall be in accordance with NFPA 80.
  8. The emergency action plan, required by 15.7.1, shall address the use of the locking and unlocking means from within and outside the room.
  9. Staff shall be drilled in the engagement and release of the locking means, from within and outside the room, as part of the emergency egress drills required by 15.7.2.

The Bremen School District disregarded NFPA Life Safety Code and their own state’s recommendations. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s assistant police chief was correct in noting deadbolts would not meet code, however the article didn’t share any further information whether solutions were provided for locking the interior side of the classroom doors.

In Massachusetts, a lawsuit was recently filed by the Lenox Public School District (near Boston) against the town of Lenox, the Massachusetts Building Code Appeals Board, and the local building inspector for requiring the school to remove the barricades devices they purchased as they do not meet Life Safety or Fire codes.

With the advent of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, information and misinformation are difficult to categorize or research. Many educators and the public may not understand the challenges classroom barricade devices present.

Selecting proper security for emergency egress, while meeting building codes can be challenging. It is important to remember that building codes are in place for a reason. The NFPA gathered statistics on school fires with 10 or more deaths. The last major school fire happened in 1958 in Chicago, IL, where ninety students and three nuns lost their lives during a fire at the Our Lady of the Angels School. We all can agree that keeping our children safe is our number one priority.

After each major incident, we learn how to better improve buildings to keep people safer. Following the Columbine tragedy that happened 20 years ago on April 20th, a new lock function was introduced called the intruder classroom function, that allows mechanical control of the outside lever via a key from either the interior and exterior side of the door. A standard classroom function lock is controlled by a key in the outside cylinder, which locks or unlocks the outside lever. The intruder classroom function allows a person to lock the door with a key from inside the room rather than stepping out into the hallway. Today, there are many more code-compliant options available.

The Door Security + Safety Foundation has gathered many resources for how to combine safety and security on their Lock Don’t Block website. These include articles, white papers, and other documents from organizations such as Safe and Sound Schools, Pass – Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, The School Superintendent Association, and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, among others.

The advancement of technology has introduced several electronic access control solutions. Online locks no longer need to be hardwired making installation easier and less expensive. Obviously, we feel our HS4 electronic hardware solution is the best, but our hope is to educate school districts, parents, and facility maintenance personnel that there is cost-effective code-compliant hardware available. We do not feel barricade devices are an acceptable solution for school security, due to possible unintended consequences.  We can help you design a safe school security system that meets building and life safety codes.

For more information on our HS4 Hager powered by Salto Electronic Access Control Solutions please contact your local sales representative or email [email protected] .

¹ Indiana District Develops School Safety Initiative Plan 
² 2018 Indiana School Safety Recommendations
³ The Gray Area of Classroom Locks

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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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Latch Protectors

Being a door hardware manufacturer we are passionate about security. Keeping a door shut and locked plays an important role in keeping people safe. When you hear “security” you may be envisioning a lot of different equipment like cameras, card readers, and maybe even grilles over doors and windows. Hager offers several levels of door hardware security options, but depending on your facility some simple, first steps, may be a better choice.

In the photos below you’ll notice a metal plate that runs vertically along the seam of the pair of doors, by the lockset. This metal plate is called a latch protector and they are available in a wide range of sizes, finishes, and shapes so they can be installed or retrofitted to most locks on both single and pairs of doors.

While we don’t recommend this application, we appreciate the effort of the building owner to resolve a security issue on an existing pair of doors.

This piece of hardware is designed to deter forced entry through door prying, kick-ins, and other actions to gain unauthorized access. Latch protectors provide simple protection from break-ins that is easy to install and is a low-cost first step in a line of defense.  Door openings where latch protectors may be useful include exterior entry, storage, equipment, or any opening where you need a little extra bit of security.

For more information about our latch protection products or any of our many other security products please contact your local sales representative or our customer service department at 800-255-3590.

 

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New Accessories for the Roton® Continuous Geared Hinge Product Line

In keeping with our promise to provide products that enhance the safety and security of our customers, Hager Companies announces the new TIPIT® and the newly designed Hospital Tip for our Roton® Continuous Hinge product line.

TIPIT®
This product was designed specifically with safety in mind. When door openings are fitted with the patented TIPIT® in conjunction with our Roton Continuous Geared Hinge, this combination provides a safe environment while meeting institutional requirements for preventing objects from being hung from the top of the hinge.

Made from durable, high-tech polymer the TIPIT® securely fastens to the door frame header using the included #10 TORX® SST security screws. Offered in two models, Concealed and Full Surface and two finished, Gray and Black. Suitable for both retrofit and new construction applications in the following vertical markets: Hospitals, Correctional facilities, Schools, Rehabilitation centers, and other institutions.

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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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Fuzzy Credentials

A sales representative was in a customer’s office recently with our 34K Series Standalone lock. The customer was reviewing the brochure when he noted one of the additional features was a “fuzzy credential entry available” and asked what it was.

It’s a good question and the answer may help dispell the image that just popped into your head from hearing the term fuzzy credential.

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DHI ConNextions 2018 – Booth 319

Next week, several members of the Hager Family and team members will head to Baltimore for the annual DHI ConNextions show.

For the Hager team, this show is all about connecting with our customers.  We want to hear what’s new in their lives and businesses; collaborate our efforts in order to grow their sales; and, of course, showcase our new products. In the last year, we’ve released the following products:

We will also have demonstrations with our HS4 Electronic Access Control products including the newest communication platform BLUEnet. We are especially excited by BLUEnet’s ability to provide a real-time (within 4 seconds) lock communication, keeping people safer in an active shooter situation.

 

If you’d like to attend the show but haven’t purchased a pass yet, we have complimentary VIP Exhibit Hall Passes available. Just click on this link and in the Promo Code box type hagevip.

We look forward to seeing you!


 

 

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School Security and Safety since Columbine

18 years ago the Columbine school shooting shook the world with images of students filing out of school buildings in single file with hands raised, SWAT teams surrounding the school, and the stark terror on the faces of the students and teachers. For the security and safety community, it renewed efforts to keep our most cherished citizens safe.

School security has increased tremendously since the Columbine tragedy. A direct result was the introduction of the classroom security function. In order to secure a traditional classroom function lock, a person had to step out into the hallway from the classroom and use a key to secure the door opening. With the introduction of the classroom security function, the lock is able to be secured from the interior of the room.

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Access Control: Door Hardware and Code Compliance by Brian Clarke DHT, AHC, CDT, CSI

This article was published in the DHI, Door Security + Safety Magazine in January 2018 issue

Keeping occupants safe is a common goal for facility managers and property owners. As the number of break-ins, active shooter incidents and other violent encounters continue to grow, controlling who enters a building has become more vital than ever before.

For healthcare, education and office buildings, standard door and key configurations do not always provide the type of security necessary. This is leading decision-makers to look at more sophisticated access control solutions. The electronic access control market has become more refined in recent years and it is important to know what is available and what may fit the needs of a given facility. Furthermore, the type of hardware chosen must be code-compliant, making proper selection even more important.

In high use buildings, such as a school or office building, access control must allow for a door opening to have free means of egress, during an emergency, along with fire protection and meet accessibility requirements. The International Building Code (IBC) defines an accessible means of egress as a “continued and unobstructed way of egress travel from any point in a building or facility that provides an accessible route to an area of refuge, a horizontal exit or a public way.”

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