Written by Tom Volkmann – Senior FDAI Inspector and Building Products Consultant at LaForce, Inc. Tom has been at LaForce for 10 years and has been a certified fire and egress door inspector since 2009.
Q1. What makes LaForce inspectors qualified?
The NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, 2010 Edition, states:
Qualified Person: A person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, professional standing, or skill, and, who, by knowledge, training, and experience, has demonstrated the ability to deal with the subject matter, the work, or the project.
Additionally, functional testing is required:
Functional testing of fire door and window assemblies shall be performed by individuals with knowledge and understanding of the operating components of the type of door being subject to testing.
While many of the employees of LaForce meet or exceed this requirement, LaForce is uniquely positioned to provide four FDAI and/or IQP certified personnel who have earned this professional certification in regional markets that we service. Certified inspectors are in the following locations: Green Bay, Milwaukee/Madison/Chicago, Detroit, and Cincinnati. We also have the ability to schedule inspections in other markets. Certification, knowledge and understanding, market presence, plus significant inspection experience are just some of what really separates LaForce from the rest.
Q2. How often do I need to have my facility’s openings inspected, and why?
Fire door assemblies shall be inspected and tested not less than annually, and a written record of the inspection shall be signed and kept for inspection by the AHJ.
Fire doors, shutters, and windows are of no value unless they are properly maintained and closed or are able to close at the time of fire. A periodic inspection and maintenance program should be implemented and should be the responsibility of the property management.
Many of the operating components are especially subject to wear, making the need for periodic inspection and maintenance most effective in ensuring their proper function. Many factors will influence the frequency of inspections. However, the more vulnerable the occupants of the particular occupancy are, will increase the importance of the assembly and should be taken in to consideration when determining whether the minimum requirement is followed, or if more frequent inspections/maintenance should be considered. Occupancy and hazard level are the ultimate determining factor in how often an inspection is required. Additionally, the age of the facility, history of incidence, volume of opening use, etc. are other important factors to consider when determining frequency and/or level of detail for inspections and reporting.
Q3. What does an inspection entail?
Fire door assemblies shall be visually inspected from both sides to assess the overall condition of door assembly.
As a minimum, the following items shall be verified (please see NFPA 80, 2010 Edition, for the list).
This is the required list of items to be looked at and recorded per NFPA 80. However, LaForce’s certified inspectors can do an even more detailed and thorough inspection, with reports specifically tailored to the property management’s requirements or desires – from a basic by-opening field sheet report to a much more formal report listing opening components, photos of non-compliance items with annotations, up-to-and-including a formal listing of recommendations for corrections. Because there are so many options, it is best to contact your LaForce Sales Representative for more details.
Q4. How long will an inspection take?
The time necessary to do an inspection, and to ultimately complete the reporting process, is dependent upon many factors: number of openings, complexity of opening hardware and function, accessibility to openings, functional testing of electrified/automatic openings, owner requirements for reporting (level of detail), physical location of facility, current volume of scheduled inspections, ability of owner to provide detailed plans and at least one person with knowledge and access of facility openings, etc. Again, the best method for determining the answer to this question is to contact your LaForce Sales Representative.
Q5. How do I schedule a fire inspection?
Contact your LaForce Sales Representative to discuss the many options, regardless of market or office. Inspections are offered for both existing and new construction openings; the latter of which is a great way to provide the property owner with the peace of mind that their new openings are compliant prior to taking occupancy and helping installers understand compliance requirements. We may even be able to provide a sample report of a sampling of openings to better assist in the inspection decision-making process.
Q6. Where can I find additional information?
The National Fire Protection Association contains information on the latest codes and standards, as well as news and information related to fire, electrical and related hazards. Additionally, this blog has covered this topic in the past: Top 10 Fire Door Code Violations, Be Prepared for a Fire Emergency, and 5 Reasons to have an Annual LaForce Inspection. You can also follow LaForce on Google+, LinkedIN, Facebook, Pinterest (see: Safety and Family), and YouTube.