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28 states have passed laws that require annual fire door inspections. It is unfortunate that the many facilities that have to comply don’t have the available personnel to inspect the fire exits. The cities and townships who  do their own inspection also have a personnel shortage for this task.

As a responsible landlord, building owner, business owner or lessee you should not only adhere to the new laws but feel compelled to protect the occupants of your buildings.

The doors play a significant role in fire safety. Mainly to allow occupants to exit the building without hesitation or any form of stoppage.

Before you start securing your doors with multiple locks and other devices or putting an object in the path of exit, think about life safety.

Fire doors have labels on them. Don’t take them off or cover them up with paint etc.

When hiring a person to install any door hardware makes sure they know that the door is fire rated and the hardware that the technician will be using is also fire rated. Must be matched fire rating. If door is a 1 hour rating but the lock is 20 minutes you have an issue.

I will admit as a Locksmith that I have trouble finding the fire rating on most door hardware.

The NFPA National Fire Protection Association, in 2009 made some code revisions to NFPA 80, standard a part of the code adopted by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.

Making door inspection “strictly required” is the verbiage used.

(Copied from the NFPA website. www.nfpa.org)

The killing fumes
Most fire deaths are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Often smoke incapacitates so quickly that people are overcome and can’t make it to an otherwise accessible exit. The synthetic materials commonplace in today’s homes produce especially dangerous substances. As a fire grows inside a building, it will often consume most of the available oxygen, slowing the burning process. This “incomplete combustion” results in toxic gases.

Smoke is made of components that can each be lethal in its own way: particles, Unburned, partially burned, and completely burned substances can be so small they penetrate the respiratory system’s protective filters, and lodge in the lungs. Some are actively toxic; others are irritating to the eyes and digestive system. vapors: Foglike droplets of liquid can poison if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Toxic gases: The most common, carbon monoxide (CO), can be deadly, even in small quantities, as it replaced oxygen in the bloodstream. Hydrogen cyanide results from the burning of plastics, such as PVC pipe, and interferes with cellular respiration. Phosgene is formed when household products, such as vinyl materials, are burned. At low levels, phosgene can cause itchy eyes and a sore throat; at higher levels it can cause pulmonary edema and death.

In addition to producing smoke, fire can incapacitate or kill by reducing oxygen levels, either by consuming the oxygen, or by displacing it with other gases. Heat is also a respiratory hazard, as superheated gases burn the respiratory tract. When the air is hot enough, one breath can kill.

Fire in the United States
Every 20 seconds, a fire department reponds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Once a minute, a fire occurs in a structure. Although fire’s toll has declined steadily over the past two decades, fire continues to cause major losses.

When people fear death by fire, they typically imagine the cry of “fire!” in a place crowded with strangers, perhaps a movie theater or restaurant. But of the 10 deadliest fires through 1999, only two were in such settings: the Iroquois Theater in Chicago in 1903 (PDF, 4008 KB) and the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston in 1942 (PDF, 2.5 MB). Throughout history the big fires have more commonly engulfed cities or forests, or have involved steamships, airplanes, and industrial settings such as mines or chemical plans.

And those conflagrations have become less common. From 1900-1954, there were 44 fires with death tolls of 100 or more. But from 1955 to present, there have been just five:

  • a Southgate, KY, restaurant fire in 1977
  • the Oklahoma City office building bombing in 1995
  • the Florida in-flight fire in 1996
  • the World Trade Center attack in 2001
  • the Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island in 2003

Today, people who die in fires typically die in ones and twos, in their own homes and vehicles.

Michael J Karter Jr. wrote in the NFPA Fire Loss In The United States During 2010 written September 2011


U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,331,500 fires. These fires resulted

in 3,120 civilian fire fatalities, 17,720 civilian fire injuries and an estimated

$11,593,000,000 in direct property loss. There was a civilian fire death every 169

minutes and a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes in 2010. Home fires caused 2,640,

or 85%, of the civilian fire deaths. Fires accounted for five percent of the 28,205,000

total calls. Eight percent of the calls were false alarms; sixty-six percent of the calls

were for aid such as EMS.

482,000 structure fires occurred in the U.S. during 2010.

  • • Less than 1% increase from 2009
  • 2,755 civilian fire deaths
  • 15,420 civilian fire injuries
  • $9.7 billion in property damage
  • • One structure fire was reportedevery 65 seconds