Advantages of Installing Fire Rated Access Panels

Have you considered fire rated access panels for your building?

Fire is a double-edged sword because it’s beneficial and destructive. The heat it radiates has many uses essential for people’s survival in cold places and other applications. From the simple task of cooking food to its usefulness in producing various goods. However, despite its many uses, it poses a risk for many buildings.  

Fire hazards are an ever-present danger in many places due to the usefulness of fire and its essential function in our daily lives. Due to this risk, many buildings integrate countermeasures to deal with fire. One of the most typical methods of dealing with its effects is using fire-resistant elements in various structures and systems.  

Since a building’s system contains many sensitive parts, it will require special protection against fire. To delay it from wreaking havoc on these components, many owners and managers install fire-rated access doors and panels.

This way they can partition your commercial building and decrease the chance of fire spreading throughout your property.  

Fire door with sign

What Are Fire-Rated Access Panels  

The panel’s design allows it to meet strict building safety standards; fire-rated access panels are appropriate for installations in areas where fire safety is a concern. It can withstand fire and smoke for a specific time before it expires. 

The access door can hide HVAC components, electrical wiring, combustible materials, utility lines, and exhaust systems. It frequently comes with thick galvanized steel, smoke-proof gasket, and mineral wool insulation to function correctly.   

Uninsulated access panels are appropriate for wall applications only, whereas insulated access panels are suitable for wall and ceiling installations.  

The Benefits of Using a Fire-Rated Access Panel  

Fire-rated doors differ from other types of commercial doors. A properly fitted and maintained fire-rated door, coupled with the necessary frames and hardware, can help to slow or stop the advance of fire throughout your building. It safeguards your assets, personnel, and business.

Commercial fire-rated doors also prevent the spread of smoke and poisonous gases that fire produces when it burns.  

Smoke and hazardous gas can swiftly travel throughout your building, wreaking havoc on both things and people. Due to the peace of mind and high level of protection they provide, many enterprises prefer fire-rated commercial doors.

Due to their more robust design than conventional commercial doors, fire-rated doors also offer further protection to your establishment.  

Finally, fire-rated access doors are necessary for LEED certification of any building. The LEED accreditation compels businesses to be sustainable, cost-efficient, and reduce energy.  

Fire rated access panel

Options and Styles  

Each fire-resistant door has a fire rating that indicates how long it can endure the heat. The duration of the fire might range from twenty minutes to three hours.

The higher the heat/smoke resistance rating, the longer it will last. Consider the installation site when choosing a fire rating for your commercial door and aim to match the rating of adjacent walls.  

Typical Locations Where You Can Install Your Fire-Rated Access Panels  

When your commercial building’s construction already has an external firewall for security, and you need to disrupt the continuity of that barrier with an access door. You must always use a fire-rated door.

Entrances in your firewall degrade the fire barrier naturally but adding a fire-rated door preserves the best protection while enabling easy accessibility.  

Buildings hide HVAC, plumbing, electrical wiring, gas lines, and other dangerous components behind access doors to prevent unauthorized people from accessing them or exposing people to hazards. These fire-rated doors and panels must be able to protect these systems.   

Various ratings show how effectively they can resist fire, based on the fire’s intensity and the panel’s installation method. You can choose between outward and upward swinging ones and whether you want a manual or automatic latch opening.  

You should also examine the following six areas for fire-rated door placement. In some circumstances, the locations must meet building and safety standards:  

  • Openings to places that lead to halls or corridors.   
  • Entryways with exit signs and separate or divided buildings.   
  • Spaces to elevator shafts and stairwells.    
  • Entrances to potentially hazardous areas like boiler rooms and high-voltage areas.  
Fire rated door

Fire Rating Classifications  

Fire class ratings are a method of categorizing materials based on their potential to sustain and spread fire and the amount of smoke they create. It uses a flame spread index to determine the ratings. The flame spread score is a numerical measurement derived by observing how a material reacts throughout a ten-minute tunnel testing.   

Each fire rating class has a flame spread index range designated to it. It is essential to understand this rating to know the fire resistance of structural components to safeguard property from fire. The NFPA Code No. 101 recognizes these classes.  

Class A

This class involves solid materials such as wood, garbage, and textiles. These are the fires that we are most familiar with, and that is the easiest to put out because they come from typical combustible materials.  

Class B

Combustible substances such as gasoline, alcohol, fuel, or oil (not those used in cooking) are all under Class B fires. They are more problematic due to the volatility of the fuel source.  

Class C

Electrical components and equipment serve as fuel sources in Class C fires. Fires caused by improper wiring in buildings, appliances, and circuit breakers are all examples under this class.  

Class D

Fires involving metal fall under this class. Metal can catch fire on rare occasions. It’s primarily a concern in lab settings and some manufacturing and industrial processes.  

Class K

Fires from grease, fats, and cooking oils are under this class. It has similarities with class B, and often people mix them up. However, these combustible materials are an entirely different class. Usually, these fires begin whenever anyone leaves a skillet unattended.  A commercial exhaust canopy can be installed also to help with steam, smoke, and exhaust.

Circuit breaker box

Mounting Considerations  

How you mount your fire-rated access door will influence its fire rating. For instance, a 60-minute fire-rated access door installed on flammable timber studs might only last three hours in a non-flammable environment. It takes more time and is more expensive, ensuring excellent safety and security in a significant fire.  

Fire-Rated Access Door Latching Mechanisms  

An active latch bolt that can sustain the stress caused by fire is also necessary for fire-rated access doors and other components. Manual or automatic locking systems are available for access doors. Some establishments have a combination of automatic and manual latches on their doors.  

Automatic locking system on door

The Takeaway  

Keeping your building safe from fire is a serious concern. You need to understand what fire-rated access doors and other passive fire-resistance measures can do for your building. Work with an expert that you can trust because they’ll be able to give you valuable insights into choosing the best option for your property. 

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