Construction Concerns: Door Reinforcements

By Gregory Havel

Doors in residential occupancies and commercial buildings may be reinforced at the door lock or latch for a number reasons, including the following:

  • The lockset may have become worn or broken so that it no longer provides security, and the replacement lockset was smaller than the opening in the door (photo 1). This type of reinforcement amounts to a pair of giant washers that hold the lockset centered within the oversized opening so that it can function properly.

 

  • The door may have been forced during unauthorized entry by thieves or by firefighters or emergency medical services (EMS) personnel performing their duties, causing damage to the door that did not require complete replacement of the door (photo 2). This type of reinforcement slips over the edge of the damaged door to reinforce it in that area. This kind of hardware can also be used when the replacement lockset is smaller than the original and when the owner needs to reinforce that part of a door to make forcible entry more difficult in the future.

 

  • When a door is undamaged during forcible entry, a new lockset of the same size can be replaced in the same opening. In this case, the occupant and the neighbors may add a second lock in an attempt to prevent another incident (photo 3). This addition can cause delays for firefighters and EMS personnel who may need to force entry to perform their duties and may cause delays in escape for occupants attempting to leave fire.

 

  • The door may have been destroyed during forcible entry, and replaced with a new door with reinforcement at the lockset or multiple locks.
  • The door may have been destroyed during forcible entry and replaced with a new steel security door that has been trimmed with wood and metal to appear identical to the original door.

When the lockset area of a door is reinforced, so often is the latch area of the door jamb. This may involve a reinforced strike plate, extra screws, or steel angles or other shapes reinforcing the jamb. The hinge area is also often reinforced with extra-length screws and reinforcing plates.

In addition to reinforcements in these obvious areas, the door and jamb can be reinforced in any way possible by the homeowner or business occupant. Any of these can make forcible entry more difficult for EMS personnel performing their duties and can delay the occupants when they are trying to escape a fire.

 

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Gregory Havel is a member of the Town of Burlington (WI) Fire Department; retired deputy chief and training officer; and a 35-year veteran of the fire service. He is a Wisconsin-certified fire instructor II, fire officer II, and fire inspector; an adjunct instructor in fire service programs at Gateway Technical College; and safety director for Scherrer Construction Co., Inc. Havel has a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College; has more than 35 years of experience in facilities management and building construction; and has presented classes at FDIC.

 

 

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