Q: It has been our practice to not allow door hold open wedges on any door within the hospital. As far as code requirements go is it rated doors only, or does it include any door with a closer?
A: It applies to any fire rated door assembly, any non-rated door assembly that is required to be self-closing, and all corridor doors regardless of their fire-rating and regardless if they are self-closing.
Look at section 220.127.116.11.10 of the 2012 LSC, which says doors shall not be held open by devices other than those that release when the door is pushed or pulled. This section is part of section 18.104.22.168 "Corridor Doors" so it is referring to corridor doors only. Approved ‘push or pull’ release devices to hold a door open are the friction-fit type hold open that are integral to the door closer, and magnets. The logic here is a person could quickly push or pull the door closed, but if the door was wedged open, then the closing of the door would be slower and more difficult; therefore, wedging a door open would not be permitted.
Section 22.214.171.124 (1) of the 2012 LSC says doors in smoke barriers must be self-closing. The term 'self-closing' means the door has to close by itself without assistance. A smoke barrier door that is wedged open will not close by itself. Section 3.3.238 of the 2012 LSC defines "Self-closing" as a door equipped with an approved device that ensures closing after opening. All doors in hazardous areas are required to be self-closing regardless if the door is fire-rated or just smoke resistant.
To further make the point, section 126.96.36.199.7 of the 2012 LSC says any door in an exit passageway, stairway enclosure, horizontal exit, smoke barrier, or hazardous area enclosure shall be permitted to be held open only by automatic release device that complies with 188.8.131.52.2. The implication here is these doors must be self-closing and may only be held open by a device that releases the door (and allows the door to self-close) upon activation of the fire alarm system or sprinkler system.
And to finally address fire-rated door assemblies, section 184.108.40.206 requires all doors required to have a fire protection rating to comply with NFPA 80, which requires self-closing devices on the doors. So, any fire-rated door assembly may not be wedged open.
That applies to nearly all doors in a hospital. But there are some doors that you could actually wedge open, although you probably would not want to inform your staff. Doors located inside a suite of rooms that do not serve an exit or a hazardous area would be permitted to be wedged open because those rooms inside a suite are not required to have doors. But that's about it.
Brad Keyes, CHSP, is the owner of KEYES Life Safety Compliance, and his expertise is in the management of the Life Safety Program, including the Environment of Care and Emergency Management programs.