We had a fire door inspection and we were told that the actuating portion of the fire exit hardware on the fire door must be one half in length of the door leaf. These hardware was installed in 1996.
I hope this helps. NFPA 80 does not actually dictate the actuating portion of Fire Exit Hardware. For that you need to look into NFPA 101. Here is what I found available on line at nfpa.org/101.
The 1973 edition of NFPA 101
5-216 Panic Hardware.
5-2162* Such releasing devices shall be bars or panels extending not less than two thirds of the width of the door and placed at heights suitable for the service required not less than 30 nor more than 44 inches above the floor. No mention of the requirements for the releasing portion on Fire Exit Hardware.
The next available edition of NFPA 101 is the 1997 edition.
22.214.171.124.2 Where a door is required to be equipped with panic or fire exit hardware such releasing device shall
(a) Consist of bars or panels, the actuating portion of which extends across at least on half of the width of the door leaf, at least 30 in. (76 cm) and not more than 44 in. (112 cm) above the floor, and...
The 1997 edition does not indicate that it was a new change so it most have happened in the 1994 edition or earlier. It stands to reason however that if panic hardware was required to be 2/3 the width in 1973 and at some point before 1997, both panic and fire exit hardware were required to be 1/2 the width of the door leaf, then I think it is safe to say that the fire exit hardware that was installed in 1996 should have been at the least 1/2 the width of the door leaf. I could be wrong here but I find it hard to imagine the requirement going to less than 1/2 the width and then back up to 1/2 the width of the door leaf unless they did that and found that it was not enough.
I think this is a starting point for you. I hope someone with the missing copies of the earlier editions of NPFA 101 can provide you with the exact edition where it was changed. Best of Luck
Paul Anderson, FDAI
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