Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FIRE ACCESS DOORS – I am good at this subject, and this will be (sort of) short and (not so) sweet. Here we go!

Fire access door = a personnel door (minimum 3’-0” x 6’-8”) that is used to access an area of a building with high pile storage, typically in showrooms, warehouses or mercantile spaces.

High pile combustible storage = any low hazard or moderate hazard commodity over 12’-0”. (This essay excludes the consideration of Haz mat commodities, which are sometimes lower in both height and quantity)

image from:

A fire access door:
1. Isn’t necessarily an exit or means of egress FROM INSIDE the space, and doesn’t need to be ADA compliant.

2. Cannot be accessed by a ladder.

3. If doors are required, they need to be min. of 100’-0” on the exterior shell wall where there is a fire apparatus road. In other words, where there is paved lot, there needs to be a door.

4. Does not “excuse” the warehouse from exit doors. You need both. A fire access door can double as a means of egress but would have to be ADA compliant in this condition.

5. Generally required in areas over 12,000 sf if the aisle way between racks is 96” or greater.

6. Must have a knox box somewhere on the building for the fire department to get a key.
Here is a little aside…#6 is required, but I just chuckle at the imagery of a fire truck tearing ass into a parking lot to an industrial building, men pouring out of it in their fire suits grabbing axes and hoses. One guy gets out, calmly jogs to the knox box, types in the code and holds the key high over his head as he runs toward the closest access door and everyone files in.
( I have only heard) 9 out of 10 times it is a scene from a John Wayne movie where the doors get kicked in left and right or someone opts to” axe” a glass storefront. You have to love it.
(in case you ever wanted to know the procedure to kick in a door)

The fire access doors only have to be in the occupancy in which there is high pile storage. If you have a warehouse with racking and an office (business occupancy) in the same suite, the office doesn’t need to have doors every 100’-0”.

I hope this helps shed some light on fire doors. I have confidence that you will sleep better because of this blog entry. Either, you were so concerned with what the guidelines actually were, you can now “sleep easy”, or you decided to read through this all the way. Result: deep sleep. Have a wonderful day!

1 comment:

  1. i love that you can make fire access doors enjoyable.

    i've never had to design anything with a fire access door, but if i do, i know right who to come to.