Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

Should All the Fire Doors Close on Any Fire Alarm?

By Douglas Krantz | Life-Safety

Should All the Fire Doors Close on Any Fire Alarm?

Should All the Fire Doors Close on Any Fire Alarm?

Greetings Douglas,

I work in a hotel and I am experiencing some issues with my door holders.

Every time there is an incident with a guest burning something and the alarms go off, I noticed that the doors by the elevator on the 2, 3, 4, and 5 do not shut (permanently energized).

But the doors in the first floor will close as it should be.

The SLC runs all the way from the FACP to the notifiers to each floor, and I tested one door holder by disconnecting the 120v on the relay. The door holder de-energized, meaning that the power is there, but something is preventing the notifier or SLC from cutting the voltage.

Thank you , and looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank You, BN

Several Questions

  • In the Original Design, is that the way the door holders were intended to operate?

  • Is the system changed, so the doors operate differently now than when the system was installed originally?

  • Has a component failed so there is a failure in the door closing system?

Original Design

The idea behind requiring that doors close its to compartmentalize smoke and fire. The doors close when fire or smoke is at the door, preventing the fire or smoke from going from one compartment in the building -fire zone- to another compartment in the building.

Where there's smoke or fire, the action of closing the door saves lives and reduces property damage.

It's the specific door, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Building Code (IBC), that has fire or smoke at it that is required to close. If there's a requirement to close more doors in the building when there's smoke, it's more of a local issue with the fire marshal, elevator inspector, insurance agent, and even the building owner. They're all AHJs (according to the NFPA), and they all can make this requirement.

If the door closing was designed the way it is now, and at the time the building was new, the door closing was certified to be operating correctly by the fire marshal and elevator inspector, that's the way it's supposed to work.

System Changed

The sequence of door closing was programmed into the fire alarm panel, and possibly the elevator capture control panel, at one time.

Being a program in the panels, the programming could have been changed after the building was built and originally certified. If the changes have been approved and certified by the fire marshal or elevator inspector, that's the way it's supposed to work.

But then again, if there were changes made without certification, you may wish to investigate further.

Failed Component

There's always a possibility that a device or component has failed. An example would be where the contacts on a control relay for the fire alarm panel have welded together, or where some contacts have burned out.

If something failed, you need service from a fire alarm service company.

Testing the Door Holders

About the only way to confirm that the door-closing system works properly is to have a fire alarm service company perform a full test of the fire alarm system.

Normally, a full test is performed once a year. When the test is performed again, make sure whoever is testing the system very carefully writes down exactly what causes each fire door to close. Make sure the writeup shows whether each door closes with any alarm, or does each door only close with smoke by the door.

Be careful, though. It may not be against the law in your area for you to perform these tests, but you should be aware of problems that can occur.

Setting into alarm the smoke detectors by the elevators can capture the elevator, making the elevator useless until a key is used to reset the elevator. Unless the elevator company has trained someone on site (like you) about the elevator capture, and also provided a reset key, I suggest you leave the idea of testing the fire doors by the elevators to the fire alarm company or the elevator company.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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