Posts Tagged ‘maintenance’


Every fire resistant doorset installed in Australia must be installed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The current Australian Standard referred to in the BCA for Fire Resistant Doors is AS1905.1-2005 “Components for the protection of openings in fire resistant walls.

 While this article concentrates on the requirements of the fire door compliance tag, a fire door is a component of a complete doorset which includes the door leaf, or leaves, the frame (inclusive of the required frame compliance tag), hardware, seals, other attachments to the doorset (e.g. vision panels and air grilles) and the wall in which the doorset is installed including the fixing of the attachments to the door/s, the door/s to the frame and the frame to the wall.


This Blog Post is accompanied by a summary table of fire door compliance tag requirements in Australia. The table details all the relevant Australian Standards and the relevant clauses relating to fire door compliance tags. To view the table click here (sorry could not format it to fit on this Blog Post).


The fixing of a compliance tag to a fire resistant doorset has been a requirement from the initial fire door code (AS CA57, Part 1-1972) to the current time.

The door tag is an integral component of a fire-resistant doorset identifying the door and setting it apart from other doors such as solid core doors, hollow core doors and the like.

Considering this, it is clear why the compliance tag is so critical; it identifies the door as a fire-resistant door (being a component of a complete fire resistant doorset), and further gives a reference to the performance (i.e. the fire –resistant level) of the specific door.

The physical tag requirements have remained unchanged over the revisions of the relevant standards (aside from the imperial to metric changes which first appeared in the 1976 revision) but more often we are seeing tags provided by suppliers which are printed, not etched, embossed or stamped which can lead to issues in identification when tags are painted over.

Recessed or projected numbers and letters can be painted over and still be identifiable even if a solvent is used to clean the tag. This tiny little point is often missed by tag providers and this should be addressed by all who have the responsibility of manufacturing, supplying or installing compliance tags and is a clear requirement of the Standard and for good reason.

Building owners and managers should be aware of the importance of compliance tags to ensure trades such as painters are directed to treat compliance tags as they would locks and closers  and protect them prior to painting.

The fixing of the compliance tag to the door leaf is another issue. Adhesives while appropriate short term can degrade over time. This can lead to compliance tags becoming detached from the door.

Sticking a tag to a door leaf is a major contributing factor in compliance tags falling off doors and aside from the 1984 revision tags have had to be either mechanically or firmly affixed.

This small point is the bane of contention of building owners and managers who consistently see the wording “missing compliance tag, recommend new door”.

Industry providers are doing themselves an injustice in not doing these simple things to protect the end user from the premature replacement of their fire resistant doors.

The details on a compliance tag provide critical information which is used by inspectors (or should be used) to assess the fire resistant doorset during its serviceable life as it identifies the conditions by which the fire resistant doorset  was designed and should be assessed against.

These details have changed over the years so inspectors should be aware of the marking requirements for the relevant performance standard applicable to the doorset being inspected (see table above “Required Tag Details”).

If you have seen a tag in the field with the standard “AS1851” prominently displayed, this is not a compliance tag. This detail provides no assistance to the inspector of the fire-resistant doorset as it fails to provide any of the details required by AS1905.1.

Tag location is stated in general as approximate and where the placement of the tag on the hinge side of the door leaf could impact the performance of the doorset (i.e. perimeter door seals for example) there is comment to recommend the relocation of the tag to the face of the door on the top hinge side.

Who can tag a fire-resistant door has been defined since the Standard revision in 1990. In looking at the possibility of retagging a fire-resistant door which has lost its compliance tag, we must firstly satisfy ourselves that we are able to.

For doorsets manufactured and installed prior to 1990, the Standard provided no definition as to who could tag a fire-resistant doorsets and as such it would be reasonable to assume that doorsets of this era are able to be tagged by anyone who could satisfy the requirements of assessing the installation and making the determinations required by the relevant code at the time the doorset was manufactured and installed.

For doorsets installed between 1990 and 1997, the definition provided for who can tag a fire-resistant doorset was defined as “The Supplier”, defining the supplier as the sponsor of the test on the prototype fire-resistant doorset who certifies that the doorset, when installed, complies with the Standard. Considering this definition, to retag a doorset manufactured and installed during this time you would have to identify the core of the door to then identify the “Sponsor”. Additional to this would be your ability to identify the year of manufacture and installation.

For doorsets installed since 1997 the manufacturer or certifier has been defined as the allowing tagging entity. To tag a doorset manufactured and installed in this period you would have to be able to identify who the original manufacturer of the door was in order to seek their authorization to retag a fire-resistant doorset.

The issue of being able to retag a fire-resistant doorset is a hot topic with companies on both sides of the fence. The issue of “should you retag a fire door” is not discussed in this article and it is incumbent on individuals making claims of being able to retag fire-resistant doorsets that they can do so in accordance with the requirements of the Standards.

As with the physical requirements of a tag, documentation has been a requirement since 1972. The details of documents and the form in which they are provided has changed over revisions but in general, a “schedule of evidence” or “evidence of compliance with the code” has been required. An example of the documentation to be provided is given at the back of most Standard revisions.

A NOTE ON ASBESTOS

A common practice for identifying a fire-resistant doorset is to remove the lockset to expose the inner core of the door. By exposing the core an experienced individual may be able to identify the type of core and the potential manufacturer or sponsor/applicant.

If you do undertake this practice please be mindful that fire doors manufactured up until the early 1980’s were predominantly manufactured using asbestos as the core material. Removing the lockset can lead to exposure to asbestos fibres and should be avoided at all costs. If you suspect that a door may contain asbestos then it would be advised that the appropriate controls are put in place prior to removing the lockset to ensure exposed asbestos is contained.

Table below summarises State and Territory Acts and Regulations with respect to working with Asbestos.

State / Territory Act Regulations
QLD Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 2008
NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001
ACT Work Safety Act 2008 Work Safety Legislation Amendment Act 2009 Dangerous Substances (General) Regulations 2004
VIC Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
TAS Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 1998
SA Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (SafeWork SA) Amendment Act 2005 Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1995
WA Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996
NT Workplace Health and Safety Act 2007 Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 2008

(Source http://www.asbestosaustralia.com.au/ )

RFID Tags give identification to things. Once identified, the tag can be used for many different purposes.

Let’s look at an example.

  1. An RFID Tag is installed in a fire door for the purpose of identifying the fire door. The fire door is located on the toilet entry door in a commercial high rise building.
  2. The building has on site security guards who during the course of their day undertake patrols throughout the building.
  3. There are cleaners on sub contract at the building to ensure that the toilets are cleaned on a regular basis, the paper and soap is replaced and available and the toilets are cleaned.
  4. A building manager is also located at the building and regular performs audits of sub contractor performance such as fire service companies, security personnel and cleaners.

With the RFID Tag in the fire door we have not only an identification of a door but also the identification of a location.

The fire service technician can scan the RFID Tag and be displayed a maintenance routine for the fire door, a security guard can scan the same tag to confirm he has patrolled the specific location, the cleaner can scan the RFID Tag on entering the toilet area and then on exiting the toilet area showing how long they were cleaning the toilet area and the building manager could scan the same tag and obtain the details of the last inspection/patrol or attendance of sub contracted service providers. An alternative for the building manager is to see all this information which can be remotely fed back to a central data store so at any time they can assess the performance of the sub contracted service providers.

If we look at the situation at the moment, a fire service company may place a bar code or other identifier on the door, the security company may place a touch tag on the wall adjacent to the door, the cleaners have a piece of paper on the back of the door and the building manager needs to review all returned information such as event logs and service reports to know what has or has not been done or if the information is required sooner attempts to contact the sub contractor supervisor via phone or email to find out what is going on.

The other disadvantage as there is no common link between the different identifications such as the fire companies label, the security guards touch tag and the cleaners piece of paper. Reconciling all the information from various service providers can be nearly impossible.

If all services utilised the same common RFID Tag, the building manager would have a simple means to know precisely what occurred at a specific location or to a specific asset.

One of the benefits of this type of arrangement is minimising the unsightly marking of things and standardising the means of identification. If the building owner mandates the use of RFID Tags for identifying things within their building they can reuse the RFID Tag for other purposes such as those we have detailed in this example.

Another benefit is that a change in the service provider does not mean yet another numbering system and yet another unsightly label. Data from one service provider for an asset can be easily matched, via the RFID Tags unique ID, to the data provided by another service provider giving a more robust and clearer picture of the status quo.

This is by no means a comprehensive look at what can be achieved with RFID Technology and if you want to know more about the potential benefits of this technology contact me to discuss or leave your comments below.

In looking at the current Australian Standards, and having recently drafted an article on the history of fire door tags in Australia (to be possibly published in the Fire Protection Association of Australia publication “Fire Australia”), this question has been running over and over in my mind.

Some would say I need a life and I would tend to agree with you but never the less I intend to delve into this in a little greater detail.

If a tag is on the edge of a fire door, what does it mean to the average Joe public? Does it give them any assurance that the door is in fact a fire door? Would average Joe public know what the details on a tag mean or would they simply assume that it is a fire door regardless of what the tag stated?

My opinion and one which others may disagree with is that the tag on a fire door is not for average Joe public, it is for the Authorities and Service Companies who actually know what the details on the tag are supposed to mean, and what direction it provides in the ongoing maintenance and assessment of the particular fire door.

Without going into too much detail, the fire door tag provides the context, the picture of what kind of fire door it is, who made it, who tested it, what its performance level is etc.

If I walked up to the average person on the street and asked “what does AS1905.1 mean?” I am pretty sure I would receive a perplexed look and rightfully so. There is no reason why the average Joe needs to know this sort of information that is why there are professionals who provide the inspection and assessment of these assets, people who do know what these things are and more importantly what they mean and why they are so important.

Now if you agree with me so far then let’s take this a little further. The current Australian Standards require a metal tag of a certain size with certain information on it to be fitted to each fire door. The tag is generally fitted to the hinge side of the door approximately 1.5m from the finished floor level. Along comes the painter and 9 times out of 10 the tag is painted over negating any information provided as it is covered over and the tag installed was not made in accordance with the requirements of the Standard (i.e. embossed or recessed numbers and letters).

Tags also have the misfortune of falling off or being removed.

Painting a tag, tags falling off or tags being removed all have the same effect, it basically removes the information required to properly inspect, maintain and assess the fire door, the doors identity.

The question I asked myself some time ago was “Is there a better way to tag a fire door?” and the answer I came up with was a resounding yes. Technology has come a long way since the 1970’s when we saw tag requirements in an Australian Standard for fire doors (CA57.1-1972). Computers and technology in the 1970’s was vastly different to now. Where a computer may have taken up an entire floor of a building, now we can hold them in the palm of our hands. Things are just getting smaller and smaller and smarter and smarter.

One such advancement in technology has been the identification of things. We went from metal identification tags or simple labels to Bar Codes. This advancement enabled the beginning of the automation age with respect to data capture in which information could be attributed to an asset by reference to an identification method that could be read by a machine thus speeding up the process of data gathering and reporting.

While this provided some benefits, the fact that a visual line of sight was still required to enable reading of a barcode, many of the problems with metal tags still remained, namely requiring the visual identification of information to be read either by person or by machine. As with metal tags, bar codes could be rendered useless if painted over, scratched or dirty and could just as easily be removed or fall off.

The other down side to bar codes in asset identification is the ease in which they can be replicated. This ease of replication is not conducive to the identification of assets in which life safety is an issue. If an identification tag can be easily replicated then it fails on the basic level of integrity. For this reason it would not be reasonable to to replace the current method of tagging with bar codes as there is no improvement in relation to identification of the asset and no improvement in the ability to ensure life safety.

The technology I am currently heavily involved in the development of Radio Frequency Identification, in essence a bar code on steroids.

Unlike bar codes, RFID Tags do not require a line of sight i.e. you can paint right over the top of it or hide it within the asset and still be able to identify the asset by a unique identification number which is almost impossible to replicate.

The RFID tag is a tiny microchip with an integrated antenna which is read from, and written to via an RFID reader. The ability to not only read from but write to an RFID Tag gives an additional benefit which metal tags and bar codes could never provide, information about the asset at the asset.

Because we can have the tag out of sight or can paint over it, this allows the design of a housing which can be more secure and less susceptible to removal either on purpose or by accident. RFID tags are not bullet proof but they do provide a substantial number of benefits which metal tags or bar codes simply cannot match.

So in regards to improvements on the current tag specification in the Australian Standards, I see the following improvements;

  1. Can be painted over
  2. Through design can be almost impossibly to remove
  3. Can hold information about the asset at the asset
  4. Can be read from and written to

There is a down side however and that is that in order to read the RFID Tag you have to have a RFID reader and an application which allows you to obtain the details from the tag. This in essence restricts who can obtain the information, but if we consider who really needs to obtain the information then is this really an issue?

RFID Tag does cost more than a bar code or a metal tag, or at least they do at the moment, but if we look at the cost of replacing a door because the tag (i.e. a metal tag on the edge of the door as opposed to a RFID Tag fitted into the door in some manner) is missing then the initial cost of an RFID Tag vs a metal tag is quickly negated.

If my arguments at the start of this blog are correct, and a tag is really there for an authority or a service technician, then there is no real need for average Joe public to even know there is a tag there, simply because it really has no meaning for them.

The critical thing is to have the right information available to the right people (i.e. authorities and the service technicians) so inspection and assessments can be properly undertaken to ensure life safety is not compromised.

There could be an argument that you cannot force people to implement technology as this is an additional cost but are we doing ourselves an injustice by not at least considering this technology as an alternative to the existing tagging methods. Do we have to have one or the other or can we have both?

Closed systems where data is only able to be obtained if you pay a particular company a ridiculous amount of money can be counteracted by being smarter in the design of our Standards. Instead of mandating a certain type and size of an identification method why can we not have a specification of what information the tagging method needs to provide, who it needs to provide it to and further if this does take the form of electronic recording of information, specify how this data is to appear so it can be available to anyone authorised to obtain the information.

There is no reason why life safety cannot be assisted through advancements in technology. If we have a tag that is difficult if not impossible to remove then we have the essential details available at the door which guide how that door should be inspected and assessed and we further mitigate the possibility of having to replace the door just because of a missing identification tag.

I came across a very interesting term, “disruptive technology”. The term disruptive technologies (later amended to “disruptive innovation”) was coined by Clayton M. Christensen and introduced in his 1995 article Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave (Bower, Joseph L. & Christensen, Clayton M. (1995). “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave” Harvard Business Review, January–February 1995).

A simple example is the fax machine. Business used fax machines for years then along came email. Email was a disruptive technology as it nearly overnight, changed the way we communicate in the business environment. Who is to say that RFID technology is to metal tagging what email was to the fax machine?

Technology should not be put on the back burner because it is different to the current norms, it should be properly assessed and if found to provide additional benefits which enhance the current methods and improve life safety then I feel it is our obligation to outline the potential benefits that technology may be able to provide and seek acceptance of the technology as an alternative to the existing norms.

Not many of us ride a horse to work any more!

Passive Fire Protection

To better understand passive fire protection we need to firstly understand the concepts of “Compartmentalization” and “Flashover”.

Compartmentalization is the process of dividing large areas into smaller areas such as rooms within a level of a building. Each room may have a different function. You may have a plant room, an office space, a toilet area, and amenities area etc. In dividing large spaces into smaller areas we can then minimize the effects of one area on another area within the same space (e.g. two rooms on the one level of a building).

Flashover is the point at which there is the near simultaneous ignition of all combustible material in an enclosed area such as a room or the floor of a building (see the link at the end “Living Room Flashover). When certain materials are heated they release flammable gases. Flashover occurs when the majority of surfaces in a space are heated to the ignition temperature of the flammable gases. Flashover normally occurs at 500 °C (930 °F) for ordinary combustibles.[i]

If we look at a Time/Temperature curve[ii], you can see that for a fire to reach a temperature of 500 °C can take less than 10 minutes. From the “Living Room Flashover” video you can see that this occurs in the simulation in less than two minutes.

Passive fire protection measures ensure a building’s structure remains stable during fire, keep escape routes safe, limit the spread of fire, heat, and smoke from one compartment to another, so people have time to get out and fire officers have time to get in.[iii]

If we look at a room like a balloon, the objective of passive fire protection is to keep the air in the balloon for as long as possible. If we have a hole in the balloon the air escapes. If we have a hole in a compartment and there is a fire within the compartment, the fire can move from the compartment through the hole to an adjoining compartment and spread or alternatively the hole can provide additional oxygen to fuel the fire and accelerate the progression of the fire.

Plug up the holes, the obvious and the not so obvious

Passive fire protection is the process of “plugging up the holes”. For a room to be useful you have to be able to get in and out of it. For this to occur you have to create a hole in the wall into which you put a door so you can get into and out of the room.

Now we are in the room we need air so we run an air conditioning duct through the ceiling to the room. If we pump air into the room we have to allow air to leave the room so we leave a hole in the wall above the ceiling to allow the air to circulate through the room.

We want a drink so we go to the sink in the room and pour a glass of water. The pipes carrying the water and the waste from the sink go through the floor to the underside of the roof of the room below.

We plug our laptop into a power point. The cable for the power point runs through the wall and across the ceiling of a number of other rooms to the electrical distribution board.

So for our simple room we have a few holes which during normal activities are required to be there but in a fire can allow fire to spread quickly from one room to another if they are not adequately addressed;

  1. Doorway (Access and Egress Provisions)
  2. Air Conditioning Duct Work and Openings (Mechanical Services)
  3. Electrical Cabling through Walls and Ceilings (Electrical Services)
  4. Pipe Work through Floor Slabs (Hydraulic Services)

Passive fire protection is used to address these issues. The most obvious hole, the doorway, can be protected by the installation of a fire door with an automatic door closer so the door remains closed at all times and does not rely on people to close it.

The air condition supply ducts and return air ducts’/openings can be fitted with fire dampers which activate in a fire to close off the duct or opening and minimise the spread of fire and smoke. Fire dampers are not so obvious and are often installed incorrectly or not installed at all.

The walls can be fitted with fire resistant lining materials (such as fire rated wall sheeting) so a fire in the wall (possibly from electrical cabling) can be contained within the wall and not spread into the room. Fire rated pillows can also be installed in opening made through walls above the ceiling level to run cabling from one room to another.

Pipe work penetrating through the floor can be fitted with fire collars which act as a barrier around the pipe work to minimise the spread of fire through the floor into the ceiling of the room below.

The illustration below gives an idea about the various passive fire protection systems you may find in your facility.

Example of a fire and smoke compartment showing passive fire and smoke protection systems[iv]

 

 

Legend

  1. Fire and smoke barriers
  2. Structural fire-resistant elements–Beams, columns, trusses
  3. Fire-resistant doorsets
  4. Smoke doors
  5. Fire-resistant shutters
  6. Fire-resistant glazing
  7. Access panels and hatches
  8. Ducts and dampers
  9. Fire stopping of service penetration and control joints

Passive Fire Protection measures are intended to contain a fire in the fire compartment of origin, thus limiting the spread of fire and smoke for a limited period of time. This limited period of time is the time needed for people to safely evacuate the building. Fire protection is provided for life safety. Property and financial loss prevention is a by product of keeping people safe and having effective fire systems protecting our buildings.

Passive fire protection as with all fire protection systems and equipment should be installed, serviced and maintained regularly by trained, and where required, certified personnel.

To visualise the importance of passive fire protection the following photo[v] shows passive fire protection in action. The photo is an aerial photo of a brewery fire. You can clearly see how effective passive fire separation can be in protecting the lives of the people in the adjoining space and also the additional benefit of the protection of the structure of the adjoining space.

Looking for further information

The links below are provided purely for your convenience. They do not imply endorsement of or, association with any products, services, content, information or materials offered by or accessible to you at the target site.

http://www.pfpa.com.auPassive Fire Protection Alliance
http://www.nfpa.orgNational Fire Protection Association
http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/Institute for Research in Construction/NRC
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/682670/from_living_room_to_inferno_in_under_2_minutes/-Living Room Flashover Video
http://www.firetactics.com/FLASHOVER.htmRapid Fire Progress & Flashover related fire development
http://afscc.org/Alliance for Fire & Smoke Containment & Control
http://www.eapfp.com/European Association for Passive Fire Protection
http://pfpf.org/Passive Fire Protection Federation (PFPF)
http://www.l-com.com/multimedia/video_clips/video.aspx?ID=13100Videos showing flammability of cables based on jacket rating
http://www.fpaa.com.auFire Protection Association of Australia
https://rfidams.wordpress.comPeter Mole’s Blog Page

References
[i] NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, 2-106
[iv] Australian Standard 1851-2005 Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment (Page 163, Figure 17.1)
[v] Technical Guide TG-005 (Page 15), John Rakic
Disclaimer This article was written by Peter Mole General Manager at Taylors Doors and Frames and while every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. All copyright and trade marks accessible via the links in this article are owned by the respective website owners, or their licensors.

 

 

Maintenance of assets (and in particular fire services) is a function which if applied effectively can minimize or even negate the premature failure of equipment, loss of property and even loss of life.

All too often, building owners and managers make the assumption that by paying their monthly fee to a sub contractor that their assets such as fire services are being effectively maintained as and when required, but as we all know, there are a lot of unscrupulous operators out there who are providing anything but an effective inspection and maintenance service to their clients.

The building owner or manager assumes that the sub contractor providing the service is in good faith undertaking the duties as and when required and in the same way the service manager of the sub contracting company is assuming that his employee or sub contractor is in good faith undertaking the duties on site required of them as and when required. All in good faith but where is the proof?

Proof of attendance is, I feel, a critical issue in ensuring that any inspection or maintenance program is effective and something that is all too often taken for granted. Having the most advanced and well developed maintenance and inspection program is useless unless there are processes in place to make sure things are done as and when required.

We can’t afford to hire staff to look over the shoulder of the worker and nor should we be expected to, but failing this how can we be sure that what we are expecting to be done is in fact being done? Can we use technology to provide this assurance? Is technology economically feasible? What are the risks of not addressing the proof of attendance issue?


If you found this article useful or otherwise please provide comments or suggestions so I can improve on future posts.