Choosing the Right Fire Rated Access Panel

Large facilities have extensive plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems to maintain. These systems need access points for turning on and off service and routine maintenance tasks. When you install access doors, it’s important to have a fire rated access panel in many areas. In fact, these doors offer many benefits.

What Does Fire Rated Mean?

The term “fire rated” has to do with the resistance of a passive fire protection system and how long it can maintain its resistance. First, the material undergoes a fire test. Tests determine if certain materials or equipment can meet building code standards. Here are things which are commonly tested:

 * Fire doors

 * Walls

 * Fire stops

 * Floors

 * Access panels

Each testing procedure is different. In fact, the tests are focused on specific materials used in commercial and residential applications.


A high-quality fire rated access panel is made from heavy-duty 16-gauge steel. Steel has a high melting point and is resistant to fire and heat. Most panels are made with concealed hinges. This helps to increase resistance to fires. One-hour protection is important because it offers a lot of protection. Some panels come with two-hour ratings and higher for added protection. This means they can withstand fire conditions for a full two hours, and not affect the integrity of the material or construction.

Lock Options

For maximum security, you can choose a key lock for each fire rated access panel. Some panels come with deadbolt type locks for added security. However, if security is not an issue, go with a simple screwdriver operated latches

Size Matters

Access panels come in many different sizes. It’s important to have panels large enough to allow maintenance personnel to complete their tasks. However, panels too large are cumbersome and take away the eye appeal of a room. Your building materials supplier can help you make the right choices.

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