Fort Worth

NBC 5 Investigates: Could New Door Hinges Save Lives in a Fire?

Fort Worth firefighters testing door hinge that reacts to heat

Firefighters in Fort Worth are helping test a door hinge designed to automatically close a door in a fire.

For months, NBC 5 Investigates has revealed how new fire research shows how a closed bedroom door could help you survive a fire at night.

Jeff Teta is a former New York City firefighter who designed the door hinge.  He's testing his design at the Fort Worth Fire Department's state of the art training center.

"It really is extremely exciting to think of something and follow through with it and have other people as excited as you," said Teta.

They demonstrated how the hinge reacts to the heat by setting a fire in the next room. As the room heats up, the door starts to close on its own.

Just last week, the National Fire Protection Association set new safety guidelines telling families that a closed bedroom door can slow the spread of heat and smoke in a fire.

NFPA issued that message after an NBC 5 Investigation highlighted research showing the dramatic difference a closed door can make and started a national conversation on the issue.

The idea behind the new hinge is it could someday help people who forget to close their door at night or even parents who prefer to sleep with the door open so they can hear their kids.

"This is being made in that one instance when you haven't shut the door, there's a fail safe," said Wayne Bewley, product management leader at Allegion.

In some of the tests conducted the door didn't shut all the way as air pressure from the heat of the fire pushed against the door. Engineers say they will be working on a stronger spring to overcome that.

The product is still in the very early stages of testing but it's a concept that designers hope could someday save lives.

In the meantime, the Fort Worth Fire Department reminds everyone to sleep with their doors closed and put smoke detectors inside and outside of each bedroom.

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