Exit Doors – What You Don’t Know Can Be Dangerous

A recent experience with a set of exit doors motivated me to warn property managers of a very dangerous exposure that many might be facing without even realizing it.

As a fire and life safety professional, performing 40 year fire certification inspections is part of my services. I was on an inspection, walking through a 12 story, 149 unit building when I came across an exit door and tried to open it. Little did I know that I was going to get a little extra exercise that day. Suffice it to say that after a considerable amount of pushing and shoving, I got it open, but it took just about all of my strength.

Exit doors like this one don’t normally get a lot of use, unlike the doors that lead from a stairwell or other common area to the resident units. Over time, a combination of weather, age and lack of maintenance had been working towards sealing this door shut with rust.

Of course, this is a situation that could generate a code violation or possible even an automatic fine. More importantly, someone could find themselves trapped in an emergency. While I’m sure that there are people living in that building that are stronger than I am, there are surely those who are elderly or of a smaller stature that could find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation if they really needed to open that door.

On other inspections, I have found doors that wouldn’t close and others with faulty latches. Internal smoke and fire doors or partition doors may appear to be functional but until they are truly tested, you won’t know for sure.Regardless of the age of the building you manage, it is good common practice to verify the functionality and proper operation of all its doors. Make sure to check your exit doors leading out of your building or stairwells. This should become a regular part of your annual inspection process, making sure that even these commonly unused doors are fully functional.

If you manage buildings like this one, you understand the importance of safety and the need for this kind of extra care and precaution. If your building is approaching 40 years of age, you also know that a certified inspection will be required to meet standards in the building code. As well as being a certified Florida Fire Safety Inspector, I am one of a select few in the country with credentials as a NRTL Fire Protection Inspector, NICET Fire Systems Level IV, Lightning Protection Inspector and Electrical Alarm Contractor – Fire Alarm. When you need this kind of service, let me know if I can put my 25 years of experience in the field of fire protection systems to work for you.