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Our Fire Doors – More Than a Pretty Backdrop

For today’s History Corner I’m going to talk about something basic to the Coppes Commons buildings. Fire doors were at every doorway in the older factory portion of the Commons. Not only was a fire door at every doorway, but they were also on each side of each doorway. It was a simple idea: if a fire started in any one room the doors leading out of that room had a self-closing fire door on that side of the doorway to block the spread of the fire. Containing a fire to only one room would be a huge advantage.

I have no proof, but I can easily imagine Insurance companies insisting that fire doors be installed. Or if not, the Coppes company could only have limited fire coverage, sky-high rates, or go talk to some other company for their insurance needs. Any way you look at it, installing fire doors was smart business practice. The way the doors work is that they are mounted with roller wheels on an inclined track. When the door is opened (by hand) it is held at the top of the inclined track by a weight on a chain. This weight is equal to the amount of force needed to prevent the door from rolling closed. At the end of the chain is a temperature sensing device. Accentually it is two metal pieces that are soldered together with a very low melting temperature material. When the device gets hot because of a fire it separates and the door will automatically roll shut.

I have taken photos of two of our doors. The first picture is of the Manufactures label that is embossed into the metal surface. As you can see this door was produced by the RICHMOND FIRE PROOF DOOR CO. mfgrs. of INDUSTRIAL-ELEVATOR- KALALEIN(??) -and- TINCLAD FIREDOOR EQUIPMENT. RICHMOND, IND. It also has an underwriters certificate on a brass tag that is screwed on. I don’t know what the FM tag means, unless it was the installing company. Fire doors at Coppes Commons are approx. two inches thick. They are Made of hardwood that is covered in tin, and by covered, I mean the front and back flat surface and the top edge, the side edges, and the bottom are completely covered in fireproof tin.

fire door tag FM

The next picture shows a stencil with the Coppes Bros. & Zook name, still readable, on a fire door. Several of our remaining fire doors have been painted over, or are too rusty to read. I guess the stencil was to prevent shipping mistakes. These doors are heavy, and it would be a problem for someone if the wrong doors were sent to Coppes.

My third picture is a scan of an advertisement of the style of fire door we have in Coppes Commons. This is not the actual company that made our fire doors but similar in style and workings. You can see the inclined track, roller wheels on the top of the door. Also, the weighted chain with the temperature sensing device in front of the door.

fire door ad

Now you know as much as I do about fire doors. Thanks for visiting. Come back next week for more stimulating and thought-provoking stuff. 😊

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