Code Alert! Door Coordinators, Overlapping Astragals, and Vertical Rod Fire Exit Hardware

Code Alert 2 Door Coordinators, Overlapping Astragals, & Vertical Rod Fire Exit Hardware

This week, we explore two common issues related to door hardware that should be known to building owners and maintenance managers. If you find that your doors have either of these problems, please contact your door, frame, and hardware professional prior to removing or replacing any hardware. To remain code-compliant, the solution may be more complicated than a simple repair! 

Coordinators are installed on pairs of doors when both door leaves are self-closing and one door must close before the other to ensure latching. However, in these pictures, there are two problems that prevent the doors from functioning properly. These two issues violate current codes and standards.

The first issue is a malfunctioning coordinator. As seen in the bottom picture, instead of allowing the inactive leaf to close completely, this coordinator is keeping the inactive leaf propped open. This not only prevents the inactive door from closing and latching, it also interferes with the active door’s ability to close and latch, thus violating NFPA 80 paragraphs 6.1.4 &

6.1.4 Operation of Doors. All swinging doors shall be closed and latched at the time of fire. Self-closing doors shall swing easily and freely and shall be equipped with a closing device to cause the door to close and latch each time it is opened.

The second issue is the rigid overlapping astragal on a pair of doors with vertical rod exit devices on each leaf, as shown in the top picture. According to NFPA 80 paragraph, this astragal is a problem because it prevents one door from opening before the other. (Note: Whether or not the doors are fire rated, the use of a rigid overlapping astragal and two vertical rod exit devices is also a violation of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.) Doors swinging in pairs, where located within a means of egress, shall not be equipped with astragals that inhibit the free use of either leaf.

With these violations, the building owner could have liability issues as the occupants of the building are not safe and the owner may acquire fines from the AHJ for malfunctioning or non-compliant hardware applications.

Special thanks to Kristi Dietz, LaForce’s Engineering Training Manager, for writing this blog! If you are wondering about any of the terminology used, please reference our Door, Frame, and Hardware Glossary.

This blog was originally published on 6/25/2013 and was updated on 11/03/2016. 

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