I ran across a vendor called Fire Door Solutions, Inc. (www.firedoorsolutions.com) who has come up with a unique solution for those pesky penetrations in fire rated doors. On older fire doors, it is not uncommon for the facility to replace the automatic closure with a new device, but the mounting hole pattern on the new device does not always line up with the old one. NFPA 80 Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives (2010 edition), section 126.96.36.199 permits holes in doors to be filled with a steel bolt, or the same material that the door is made of. I quote the 2010 edition of NFPA 80 as that is the edition that healthcare organization will need to be in compliant with once the new 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code is adopted. Also, the 1999 edition of NFPA 80 does not address repairing holes in fire rated doors.
What I commonly see in the healthcare industry as I conduct inspections and surveys, is a maintenance person will take a standard steel bolt, nut and washers and insert them to fill the left-over holes in the door. While this meets the intent of the standard, it leaves a slightly unprofessional look to the door, to say the least. Fire Door Solutions has developed a thru-bolt that has flat heads on both ends, has both male and female threads, and screws into itself. Once installed it leaves a very clean look without the ‘tail end’ of the bolt extending through the door with washers and a nut. (See picture to the left, which is courtesy of Lori Greene)
Another product which Fire Door Solutions developed and markets is a firestop caulk to fill holes in fire rated doors. One might think that they could just use one of the many different firestop caulks available on the market today, and just squirt some of the ‘red stuff’ into the hole, and be good. Well, one would be wrong, as until recently, there was no firestop caulk available on the market with an approved listing from an independent testing laboratory for fire door repairs, according to Fire Door Solutions. They developed this firestop caulk, had it tested by a well-known independent testing laboratory and now have the only listed firestop caulk approved for use to fill holes in fire rated doors, up to 3/4 inch. According to their literature, the thru-bolts and firestop caulk are paint-able. I talked with their VP of Operations recently, and he told me the big problem with standard firestop caulk used to fill is it would not withstand the hose stream test that NFPA standards require. His new caulk passed those tests without difficulty.
Now, I’m not endorsing these products as I have never used them. But it seems to me that they could serve to solve frequent problems when changing out defective hardware on fire rated doors, rather than tossing the doors away and purchase new ones. Since operation funds are always tight for hospitals and nursing homes, this could go a long way to keep those operating budgets in check.