Automatic Sliding Doors

Has anyone had experience with commissioning acceptance tests with automatic sliding doors. The last set of sliding doors I witnessed being tested created a major problem for the installer, a major player. Apparently there is a problem with failing the power to the door and getting the door to automatically retract. As I understand it, several installations do not fail open but remain secure until the built in sliding door battery backup loses its charge when it then become unsecure and the doors can be manually prised apart. That arrangement does not comply with C/AS2 3.15.7 b) (and all the previous versions of C/ASx).
I am interested in the experience of other fire engineers having to sign PS4’s for these installations. As I understand it, the auto sliding door needs a separate UPS to maintain door security in the event of a power cut and the door controller is programmed to automatically open on failure of the power supply - the UPS.

Robert Peart

Hi Robert
I have always taken it that auto doors continue to operate on power fail (due to the battery backup) rather than they power open (which often contradicts the security design). I dont consider you have to provide a means of escape for persons unlawfully in the building if the building is unoccupied and secure.
Alan at Batchelor Associates is a good contect to talk to on securty requirements.
See you tomorrow!

Jeff, on the means of escape for people in the building who maybe shouldn’t be there. MBIE Determination 2018-028 has some discussion on this and if we should care.

I am still going through it at present.

C/AS 3.15.7 b) requires that the doors retract (or be readily pushed OUTWARD) on power failure or malfunction at any time of the day - building occupied or unoccupied. It is probably more important that the doors retract on power failure when the building is occupied.
I would expect that the IQP’s should have a power isolate switch to simulate power failure and witness the automatic doors retract open.
Security is a separate issue and could be handled by providing a UPS for the automatic doors.
Another way could be to have a spring retraction for the automatic doors and let the built in battery backup provide the security. I haven’t seen this method manufactured though.

Good to know common sense prevailed here dispite the authority having a different view!

Hi Robert
I have just finished commissioning auto doors in a shopping centre. All doors are power to close so that loss of power automatically moves them to the open position. This method meets C/AS* as loss of power doesn’t differentiate between 230v and 12v. The doors are also required to open for makeup air therefore the alarm panel signals the doors to open by removing their power source, regardless of voltage.
Good luck

Refer NZS4239:1993 para 5.3 and 5.4.
Does anyone ever bother to request the kinetic energy and holding force be proven as per para 3.1.2?

NZS 4239:1993 - Automatic sliding door assemblies is a performance standard for the manufacture of sliding door assemblies. Manufacturers who claim that their sliding doors are in accordance with NZS 4239 (or AS4085) should meet the 3.1.2, 3.1.3, 5.3 and 5.4 requirements. I note that the standard makes no requirement for certification of type. Additionally the Appendix A Inspection and Maintenance Procedures do not cover the performance criteria listed above.
I also note that neither C/AS2 nor D1/AS1 makes reference to NZS 4239. I have not yet found any reference mandating compliance with NZS 4239. Someone else may know if NZS 4239 is mandated anywhere.
I guess that if anyone gets “chomped” by a sliding door then you might start looking as to whether the door has been manufactured to NZS 4239, and then if it complies with that standard.
I also note that sliding door systems manufactured outside of Australia and NZ are being offered on the NZ market. I doubt that such doors would offer compliance with NZS 4239.

Hi Robert,
We all know that manufactures and builders will make claims that their products and installations comply but these types of installers declarations are not an automatic deemed to comply means of compliance with the Act, but are accepted on reasonable grounds by the BCA.

For the BCA to issue the building consent under S51(1) of the Act using Form 5, a performance standard must be specified for auto-sliding doors. The BCA will extract that information from the plans and specifications that were consented, therefore one can not refer to operation of an autosliding door in a building consent without also referring to its performance standard.

With the operation of auto-doors being critical to means of escape, I refer to NZS4239:1993 in the absence of anything else. If one doesnt use NZS4239, then an alternative would still need to be provided to the approval of the BCA.

Note that Amendment A to the standard states the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures shall be determined by the TA and take precedence over the recommendations of the standard. We mention in fire reports the hinged door self closing tension, and the force a fire door latch is required to resist. Therefore; mentioning auto-sliding door kinetic energy and closing force is still relevant, otherwise compliance and ongoing maintenance ends up being based on a series of assumptions.

Thanks, Grant.

Excellent points Grant.
So in summary the automatic sliding doors in question are Specified Systems as defined in the Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005.
Form 5 of the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004 requires that for building with compliance schedules that the specified systems are to “comply with the performance standards for those systems required by the building code”.
NZ Building Code C4.2 implies a performance standard for the automatic doors.
NZ Building Code D1.3.3(n) provides a performance standard for automatic doors.
It would be a fair assumption to make, that automatic doors complying with NZS 4239 would meet the performance standards for C4.2 and D1.3.3(n). There may be alternative standards that also meet those requirements.
Your post highlights the issue of the inadequacy of our current compliance schedule system. Referring to a standard for testing and maintenance is woefully inadequate is some cases.
If I read your post correctly, you wish to specify other tests outside of those required in Appendix A to NZS 4239. As the designer or an interested party, that is your right and I support this approach.
However, if the TA does not provide for your specific compliance schedule requirements, then in my opinion, the TA takes responsibility for the adequacy of the compliance schedule and can relieve the designer of some or all responsibility of the adequacy of ongoing compliance.

Thanks Robert. Im not specifying other performance standards for SS3 - Auto Doors.

Best of luck with referring to a building code clause for the installation performance standard of a specified system. Dont get confused between a Performance Criteria as defined, and a performance standard.


don’t forget you need to be able to identify a BC performance to satisfy C4.2 as it is a functional requirement. also this associated performance along with D1.3.3(n) are BC performance not a performance standard. a performance standard relative to SS is a level of performance the specified system needs to meet at the time it as introduced into the building to continue to fulfil its intended purpose. This performance is usually broken down onto 3 areas, inspection, monitoring and reporting, (I,M&R). Sometimes the acceptable solutions cite performance standard, ie NZS/ AU/ BS standards and at other times it is the responsibility of the applicant to compile a suitable regime to ensure that the system is inspected, maintained and reported on throughout the year. a good example is a 25ls fan installed in a commercial shower/ wc. As an SS9 it needs a performance standard to be listed on the compliance schedule but the performance needs to be commensurate to the associated risks. commonly these are approved ensuring that once a month a responsible person cleans the diffuser and checks its working, recording it so. the annual review will ensure that the monthly checks have been completed and that the fan remains operational.

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Thanks Grant
I was trying to follow the law and not devolve into documents issued by MBIE.
I may have been reading the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004 Form 5 incorrectly.
The sentence:
“The compliance schedule must contain the following specified systems and comply with the performance standards for those systems required by the building code:”
can be read two ways.

  1. “the performance standards (…) required by the building code” (because “those systems” refers to “the following specified systems”)
  2. “those systems required by the building code” (doesn’t make sense in this context because “those systems” are defined in the specified systems list below, not the building code).

I think the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004 should be amended to clarify its meaning.
The sentence:
“The compliance schedule must contain the following specified systems and comply with the performance standards for those systems required by the building code:”
should be changed to:
“The compliance schedule must contain the following specified systems and comply with the performance standards for those systems:”
“The compliance schedule must contain the following specified systems required by the building code and comply with the performance standards for those systems:”

There are a number of changes to forms that are overdue.
For example; Form 12 BWOF still refers to the Fire Hazard Category of a building. There is no definition of current lawfully established use, and therefore people simply use plain english descriptions!

lawfully established uses relate to schedule 2 of the building specified systems, change the use and earthquake prone buildings regs. the “use” it refers to is the lawfully established use. simple plain use descriptions in a building act context is the intended use. the intended use is translated to a classified use in the process of obtaining a building consent and once the CCC/ compliance schedule is issued the lawfully established use is ratified. If you want to change the lawfully established post CCC/ compliance schedule use you have to determine if its a change of use, hence schedule 2.

I totally agree with you Mike. How else does a person know what use the building is designed for without knowing the use as scheduled in the Building (change of use) Regs!!

The trouble is that MBIE and IANZ have been advising some councils that Commercial / Industrial Categorised Uses as listed in NZBC Clause A1 are what the lawfully established uses are. The fire report gets rejected unless i abide.

As a result, in fire reports i state for each floor level; the Regulated use, the Categorised use, the Risk Group and occupant load per Regulated use. I dont refer to lawfully establised use as the term is not defined anywhere. I dont refer to fire hazard category as that term has been deprecated since April 10 2013.

I’m aware. when i worked at MBIE i was tasked with consolidating the uses, of which their are over 20, and putting together new criteria for a change of use. in doing so i identified that no one fully understood the various uses holistically, not even MBIE. the classified uses have 1 purpose only, to limit building code obligations, look at A1 1.0.1. if MBIE or IANZ are telling people otherwise its concerning

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Further to this, what is the opinion regarding the use of battery backup and C/AS2 3.15.7

b) Be allowed in an open path or at a fnal
exit, provided that in the event of a
power failure or malfunction, the doors
or access control systems continue to
provide a safe means of escape from fre
without reducing the required width by
automatically opening and remaining
open, or being readily pushed to
the outward open position by the
building occupants in an emergency
(see Figure 3.25).

I am having a “robust” discussion at present for a supermarket where the auto door has a battery backup, so it continues to operate normally for say 10 hours depending on use. When this dies, the door remains closed as it has no power to open. Dorma and the builder say this is complaint and the same as every other one around the country, and the shop will be empty by then since the IT systems won’t be operating etc.

While that argument has some validity since without power the shop won’t be working, my reading and interpretation is when the battery pack goes flat, it needs to open. Am I overthinking this? One concern is if the battery pack is fault or fails, so that battery pack backup isn’t actually there, in an escape route.
As raised by Robert earlier, there seems to be a large disconnect between the words of C/AS2 and the common application.

hey Geoff. id say that paragraph 3.15.7 needs to contextualized using section 3.1, paragraph 3.15.1 and the associated definitions. we need to consider what 3.15.7 is trying to achieve relative to when to determine the relevance of failure in the closed position 10 hours after a fire.

I take the attitude that occupant endeavours to exit a building are absolute (except for some care and detention occupancies). Occupants should be able to override any manual or automatic barrier to their exit.
Fire alarm systems have a few modes of failure that could result in failure of automatic release of doors and opening of sliding doors thus thwarting the absolute right of an occupant to escape from a building.
It would be nice to think that automatic doors could only fail 10 hours after a fire. There a known cases in NZ where the power supply to the automatic doors have been interrupted, for whatever reason, and the doors have continued operating until the battery goes flat. The length of time for the battery to go flat can be from a few seconds to a few hours depending on the maintenance and condition of the auto-door battery.
Most of the time, a single failure does not create a major problem. Very occasionally, disasters occur when there are multiple simultaneous failures.
I see the requirements of C/AS2 3.15.7 addressing situations with a fire event, or even an earthquake event, AND, a power supply failure or malfunction an automatic door.
If MBIE would be happy to rely on the built in battery backup (with no current testing regime) to reliably operate the automatic doors in a fire event then C/AS2 3.15.7 should explicitly say so. (Why do we test fire alarm system power supplies monthly?)
I am currently unaware of any test switch that interrupts the power supply to automatic doors to determine if the requirements of C/AS2 3.15.7 are complied with.
I suppose the IQP’s are pulling the circuit breaker to the doors and waiting 10 hours to see if the doors can be opened (yeah right).
If C/AS2 3.15.7 is wrong - it needs to be changed. If C/AS2 3.15.7 is right it needs to be enforced.
I believe C/AS2 3.15.7 is substantially correct. It provides for a viable operational testing and maintenance regime which is more like to provide reliable escape routes than the currently commonly used “pray and hope” approach.