Are Doors required to latch.

joebell

Senior Member
Location
New Hampshire
The company I work for provides quarterly testing of Fire alarm systems. In talking with our tech that handles this responsibility a question came up regarding doors that release on alarm, i.e. doors held open by magnets. Most if not all these doors are equipped with latching mechanism's but some do not engage the latch when released. Is this acceptable and if not what if any code would govern this?

My initial thought would be to contact UL but I'm not sure if that would provide the answer.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Placerville, CA, USA
Occupation
Retired PV System Designer
To me, the critical question would be whether the door can fulfill its role as a smoke and fire barrier without being latched.
For example, if there could be enough air pressure difference to force the door open against just the closer spring that would be a fail.
 

69gp

Senior Member
Location
MA
The company I work for provides quarterly testing of Fire alarm systems. In talking with our tech that handles this responsibility a question came up regarding doors that release on alarm, i.e. doors held open by magnets. Most if not all these doors are equipped with latching mechanism's but some do not engage the latch when released. Is this acceptable and if not what if any code would govern this?

My initial thought would be to contact UL but I'm not sure if that would provide the answer.

Ask the AHJ in your case the fire department. They can tell you what they want and what they will accept.
 

Upnorth

Member
Location
NH
Self-latching requirement from NFPA? 1 Fire Code and IBC

Self-latching requirement from NFPA? 1 Fire Code and IBC

Ask the AHJ in your case the fire department. They can tell you what they want and what they will accept.
Although it's not all "electrical", we see some alarm companies offering to do the annual "fire-door" inspection and test, since they're going to be testing the automatic closers (and smoke detectors) anyway, which are electrical.

The doors you're seeing might be fire doors or smoke barriers. Not all smoke barriers are required to latch. Fire doors are typically required to be self-closing and self-latching, e.g., under NFPA 1 Fire Code (2009), citing NFPA 80 Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.

A fire door is intended to endure intense heat, followed by positive air pressure and the force of a hose stream, without unlatching itself. This is called "positive latching".

Also, NFPA 80 (2010), section 6.4.1.4 requires that the "closing mechanisms shall be adjusted to overcome the resistance of the latch mechanism so that positive latching is achieved on each door operation."

Similarly, under ICC IBC (2000, the latest I could quickly access):
714.2.7.1 Latch required. Unless otherwise specifically permitted, single fire doors and both leaves of pairs of side-hinged swinging fire doors shall be provided with an active latch bolt that will secure the door when it is closed.

Your local regulations may vary, and your building/fire AHJs may approve "equivalent safety" in existing buildings. I'm relatively new at this inspection stuff, so I tend to hug the code, but remain open to alternative explanations.
 
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