Business Occupancy Corridor Doors
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Mar 12, 2021 1:00:00 AM
Q: If a lower level of a hospital is declared business occupancy, can their doors be propped open with books and wastebaskets? I think that the doors were rated when installed and now over built for the barrier. Is this a time when they should remove the label and potentially the closer after a risk assessment?
A: It is never acceptable to wedge or block a door open, but in the situation that you describe, maybe. Most surveyors will cite a corridor door that is wedged open as a deficiency even in the Business Occupancy, since it is so engrained in everyone not to do so in hospitals. But you do have a point that could be made to a surveyor, but don’t plan on winning that argument every time.
Section 38.3.6 of the 2012 Life Safety Code says corridors in new Business Occupancies must be separated from other areas by 1-hour fire-rated barriers unless one of the following applies:
- The exits are available from an open floor area plan (does not seem to apply in your case);
- Within a space occupied by a single tenant (this would likely apply in your case);
- In building protected throughout by a sprinkler system (you did not mention if the entire building is sprinklered).
So, from a new construction Business Occupancy viewpoint, it would seem acceptable to wedge corridor doors open since there is no requirement for 1-hour fire-rated corridor walls. However, if your situation does not apply to any of the three exceptions above, then you have a problem.
Section 39.3.6 says there are no requirements for corridors. This means for existing conditions Business Occupancy, you should have no problems wedging the corridor doors open since there are no requirements for corridor door.
Now, having said all that, sections 38/188.8.131.52 say storage rooms in Business Occupancy must be protected in accordance with section 184.108.40.206, which requires the room to be one of the following:
- Protected with 1-hour fire-rated construction;
- Protected with sprinklers;
- Protected with both if a severe hazard (unlikely in a hospital setting).
So, if any of the rooms are used for storage, then they must be either 1-hour fire-rated with a ¾-hour fire-rated self-closing door (and cannot be wedged open) or protected with sprinklers and in that case there are no requirements for a door to the room, so you would be able to wedge that door open.
But, tell your client to not count on the surveyor agreeing with what the LSC permits. They can and will cite an organization for wedging corridor doors open in Business Occupancies if they want to. It is their prerogative and according to section 220.127.116.11 of the 2012 LSC; they have that right.
If the door is fire-rated and is no longer needed to be fire-rated, then yes, removing the label is an appropriate action. You would not be able to wedge a fire-rated door open according to section 18.104.22.168 of NFPA 80-2010.