Despite the provisions for fire protection specified in our fire safety codes, walls with openings have inherently less fire resistance than unpierced walls. Fire doors are designed to protect an opening under normal conditions of use, including that they be normally closed and clear of materials on both sides. When the opening is not used and combustible material is piled against the door, window or shutter, the same designated level of protection cannot be expected. Combustible material should be kept well away from openings. This is but one example of why some building operators develop a fire safety strategy, which includes the designation of safe egress routes, inspection of the construction of barriers to fire and smoke, and reviewing the adequacy of fire-resistance ratings to which the entire structure was designed and built. Often overlooked, the day-to-day concepts of operability and functionality are also very important for developing and maintaining a continuous level of fire safety within a building. Once fire safety systems are installed, it is often taken for granted that they will always work as designed, ignoring the requirement for regular testing and maintenance. The approved fire safety plan does outline the maintenance checks and inspections that must be performed to ensure the integrity of fire barriers within buildings.
For the most part, fire doors for the protection of openings depend on the use of components that have been listed or labeled according to their fire protection ratings. These components include fire doors and frames, latching devices, swinging and sliding hardware, and closing devices that provide self-closure or are automatically closed at the time of a fire. The effectiveness of the entire assembly as a fire barrier could be compromised if any component is omitted or substituted with one of substandard quality. Fire exit hardware labelled as meeting the requirements for life safety and fire protection is available for all fire doors, which are required to bear a marking indicating the same level of protection. New and existing fire doors are normally classified and labeled with either an hourly rating designation or alphabetical letter designation. Labels are affixed as the standard practice indicating the duration of the fire test exposure known as the fire protection rating. Fire and life safety planning is a critical component of any building. The planning approach depends on the type(s) of building for which the fire plan and the equipment were designed. In developing an effective fire plan, one must consider a building’s construction. Whether for concrete or steel-reinforced structures, and for various numbers of floor, it is imperative to assess hazards in the building when creating the evacuation procedures to be outlined in the fire safety plan. It is critical that the building operator review their fire safety plan as often as necessary, but at intervals not greater than 12 months, to ensure that it accounts for changes in the use and other characteristics of the building as stated in the code. Some types of updates to the fire safety plan will warrant a re-submission for approval, including changes to responsibilities, procedures, structure or layout of the building. The fire safety plan must always include a stamp of approval with date and/or letter of review to ensure compliance with the fire safety code.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.