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Git 07-31-2008 06:46 PM

Fire Rated Door - Install window?
Attached garage with a 20 min rated, 6 panel, builder grade, solid core door leading into my house. The door leads into the laundry room area, which is does not have any windows and is usually very dark.

What I would like to to is to get some more light into the room during the day without having to turn on the lights - the switch is in a very inconvenient place. The garage doors have windows so I was thinking, could I neatly cut out the top two panels (approx 9" x 8" each) and replace them with some sort of fire rated glass? That way the natural light from the garage would illuminate the laundry room.

Any ideas or recommendations?

Termite 07-31-2008 07:18 PM

I've never seen this done, and would require someone to meet some criteria if I were to allow it in a home.

The code doesn't speak to placement of windows of the commonwall between the house and the garage, only doors. That doesn't mean that its ok then... Installation of special (probably wired) fire glass won't necessarily satisfy the code requirement. You would need to install glass that is rated as 20 minute assemblies as part of the door, which involves more than just glass...The entire door assembly would have to be part of the listed and tested assembly.

In order to be code-legal, you're talking about a very expensive commercial door assembly.

Termite 07-31-2008 07:22 PM

The only code-legal exception to a rated door is a 1-3/8" thick solid core door, which is the route 99.99999% of homebuilders take. No way to legally or safely incorporate glazing into that installation.

Git 08-01-2008 11:59 AM

Well, that's what I was afraid of.

Thanks for the help - I'll probably end up installing a motion detector for the light

Nestor_Kelebay 08-01-2008 10:36 PM


Winnipeg's "Fire Safety By-Law" is the most extensive fire safety legislation in all of North America. To be perfectly truthful, it wasn't about fire safety at all, it was about stimulating the Manitoba economy back in the mid-1980's by requiring the rich (the landlords) to spend a lot of money making their buildings "safer" (?) for people to survive a fire in.

Winnipeg's Fire Safety By-Law required me to: Install a new fire alarm system with panel, install a lock box with keys to the building, room in which that panel is located and panel in that lock box, paint all door frames in stair well apartments with intumescent paint, install door closers on every suite door, install battery operated smoke detectors in every suite, install smoke barriers in the hallways and install emergency light stations that would illuminate the interior of the building during an electrical outage.

ALL of my smoke barriers have large glass windows in them. The glass is Georgian Wired Glass. The wires embedded in the glass prevent the glass from shattering if exposed to the high temperatures of a fire on one side. That prevents smoke from spreading into the space on the protected side of the smoke barrier.

So, check with your local fire department. I expect you should be able to install a window in a fire door provided that the glass is fire rated.

AtlanticWBConst. 08-02-2008 09:43 AM


Originally Posted by Nestor_Kelebay (Post 145083)
....So, check with your local fire department. I expect you should be able to install a window in a fire door provided that the glass is fire rated.

....This is wrong and incorrect advice.

Local fire departments oversee fire alarm, and smoke detector placements.
However, this area of construction and fire partitions/separation systems, assemblies, is not overseen by the local fire departments. It is overseen by the building dept.

The laws, tests, approvals, ratings, etc, are as KCT stated. They are based on the "overall" door assembly. The "door" is the "fire-separation-assembly", not just the glass, not just the door. They are not viewed as (nor should they be) separate fire-assembly components.

It is not just a matter of installing the glass in the door. The "door-assembly" (the door with the glass in it) must be tested and approved as a "whole". How the glass is installed, sealed, and part of the overall construction of the door. As stated, this would cost alot of money to attempt......and then to seek the testing and fire-rating approval on such a "hand-made" door.

No Building dept. is going to accept such a door, especially constructed by a property owner, without the proper certifications and approvals.

To the OP, consider installing a window in another location of the room. Even cutting out an opening in the concrete foundation wall, installing a lintle, or header, with a window is going to be a much less expensive route than attempting to create/fabricate, a rated and approved fire-assembly-door.

bjbatlanta 08-02-2008 05:05 PM

KC is correct. You can get a fire rated door or window, but they would be from a commercial supplier. They would be metal frames. The door would likely be metal. The glass would be fire rated, likely with wire in it as Nestor described. And they would be expensive.

buletbob 08-02-2008 08:48 PM

Thekctermite is correct and Atlantic explains it more in detail. No ,once you cut into the door you will compromise the fire rating on the door.
Here our code states door and jamb must be fire rated. metal door and jamb with a self closing hinge. BOB

Maintenance 6 08-04-2008 08:51 AM

Does the door have a "UL" label that specifically states that it has a 20 minute rating? (or some other testing and rating agency) If so, the manufacturers name should appear on the label. Doors are tested at a UL approved test facility as a unit, including all lites installed in them. They must meet or exceed the 20 minute burn through, plus a fire stream test in order to qualify for the requested rating. All doors produced thereafter and shipped with the "UL" label must be manufactured exactly as the test subjects were submitted. Any untested modification after the fact voids the label and therefore the rating. I suggest that you contact the manufacturer and ask for their recommendation. They sometimes have a tested modification that will support the rating. We have modified rated doors in this fashion with the support of the door manufacturer, provided that the work was done according to their specifications and using approved materials. A 20 minute rating is not particularly difficult to achieve and the manufacturer may well have a retrofit lite kit or method to achieve what you are looking for. The labels are usually affixed to the top or hinge edge of the door and hopefully has not been painted over.

Maintenance 6 08-04-2008 09:05 AM

Oh and as a side note, the typical cost to test a rated assembly such as a door is about $30,000 to $40,000 per test and the manufacturer typically has to supply several examples of their product. UL likes to check for consistancy among the products submitted, and they pick the units they wish to test. Because of cost, most manufacturers try to test several similar assemblies at once. That could be a solid single door mixed with a few lite combinations or finish options, etc. It is not unusual for the cost to be much higher depending on the type of test and the product being tested. It's pretty much nail biting time for the manufacturer while the test is being conducted, because he pays regardless of pass or fail.

Termite 08-05-2008 03:32 PM

Good info on this thread.

For what its worth, most builders in jurisdictions enforcing the I-codes do not use true fire-rated doors (UL tested assemblies, etc). The much cheaper option is to use a 1-3/8" thick solid core door as allowed by code. The code doesn't require self-closing hinges or closers, although many jurisdictions do enforce that in an effort to maintain separation.

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