A Guide to Fire Door Regulations

Fire Doors Save Lives!

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A fire door is a critical safety feature of any building in which people work or visit, as they act as a barrier to the spread of fire, heat, and smoke, limiting its effect whilst allowing enough time for occupants to evacuate to a place of safety.

Buildings are compartmentalised to delay the spread of fire from one area to another. A fire door is a sealed door between compartments. A well-designed timber fire door will delay the spread of fire and smoke without causing too much hindrance to the movement of people and goods.

For commercial or non-domestic properties, liability lies with whoever is deemed the ‘responsible person’ for that property or the employer. For example, the owner of the property, or the person in control of the property for trade reasons would be responsible. You can be a responsible person if you are: A business owner, Landlord, Facilities manager, Employee, Risk assessor, Building manager.

A thorough fire risk assessment must be carried out and it is advisable to get professional help with all fire safety-related regulations.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for existing buildings

According to Regulation 38, these checks should be carried out on all fire doors in the building every six months – or if the building is especially busy, every three months. Everything must be logged, including the time and date, details of the work carried out, and the results of the inspection.

IS YOUR DOOR A FIRE DOOR?

Doors

The term ‘fire door’ usually refers to a fire door leaf, the main component of a fire door assembly or doorset.

The door leaf is installed into a fire-rated frame, complete with its ‘essential ironmongery’ to make the door perform correctly in the event of a fire.

Older panel doors, especially if less then 44mm thick, are unlikely to be FD30.

Hollow flush doors using egg box or similar construction will not be FD30. This can be detected by the weight of the door because fire doors are much heavier than a hollow door. To check the weight of a door, instead of removing it, you can detach the self closer and swing the door between your thumb and index finger. This gives a good indication of the weight of the door. Hollow doors are reasonably easy to detect using this method.

The door is tested as a complete assembly or doorset, and can only work correctly if installed using the same compatible components as when it was tested.

Closing Device

Fire doors will have automatic closing devices (fire door closers) fitted. Spring-loaded self-closing hinges and concealed Perko door closers with chains might also be in evidence.

Fire door details

Hinges

Because of the weight of a fire door and to prevent it from warping, fire doors are usually fitted with three fire door hinges. The current BS EN standard does, however, allow two hinges in certain circumstances. There may be documentation that was supplied with a fire door giving you all the necessary information.

Fire Door with intumescent strips and cold smoke seal

Fire Door Seals or Fire and Smoke Seals

Intumescent fire door seals should be fitted to the vertical and horizontal members (sides and head) of a fire-resisting doorset. These seals are fitted into grooves cut into the door or the frame, or alternatively, can be surface mounted. As soon as the temperature in the vicinity of the strips exceeds 200°C, usually about 10-15 minutes after the start of a fire, the seal swells and seals the gaps between the door and frame.

As smoke spread is an even greater threat to life and property than flames, particularly in the early stages of a fire, fire doors might also have to be fitted with a ‘cold smoke’ seal to prevent the ingress of smoke around the door edges (such fire doors would be specified as FDs fire doors). Exceptions apply where the leakage of smoke is essential for detecting a fire early.

Combined smoke and intumescent seals are available.

Fire Resisting Glazing

Glazing may range from a small vision panel in a door to a glazed screen for maximum light transmission and safety. Ordinary glass cracks when exposed to heat and is liable to fall out fairly early in a fire. Fire resisting glass can withstand exposure to the heat condition in a fire test for at least 60 minutes before it reaches a temperature high enough to soften it. This is mainly because, with clear FR glazing, nearly 50 per cent of the incident heat is transmitted through the glass by radiation.

To delay the ignition of beading to 30 minutes, it is usual to fit a fire-resistant glass secured using a fire-resistant glazing system. This will hold the glass firmly in place during normal use, but in the event of fire, allows the intumescent material to expand, thereby securing and insulating the glass and protecting the surrounding timber.

If you own a commercial or non-domestic property, there are strict regulations and guidelines to follow, ensuring the doors can withstand certain heats.

Fire Door with Wired Fire Resisting Glazing

Fire doors in homes

Fire doors can also have massive advantages for private properties.

Fire doors save lives and property.

About 3 million new fire doors are bought and installed every year in the UK. But to save lives, fire doors must work correctly.

For a private premises, it is advised to install fire doors where the risk is most imminent, for example, the kitchen, or rooms which house lots of electrical devices. If your property is a new build, it should have been subject to regulations ensuring certain doors are fire doors – check this with the developer.

Around 42% of deaths during house fires are not from direct contact with the flames, but the consumption of smoke. With this in mind, keep an eye out for a doorset with cold smoke seals. These should be within the intumescent seal.

30 SECOND FIRE DOOR CHECKLIST

  1. Does the door close soundly against the frame?
  2. Are intumescent strips and/or smoke seals present and in good condition?
  3. Is the edge of the door or frame damaged?
  4. Does the latch engage properly?
  5. Are there any gaps larger than 3mm between the frame and the door?
  6. Is the gap at the bottom of the door greater than 10mm or 3mm on a smoke control door?
  7. Are there a minimum of three hinges and do they look in good condition?
  8. Does the door have the correct signage on it?
  9. If there is glazing in the door, does it look in good condition?
  10. Does the door closer (if fitted) close the door properly from all angles?
  11. Is the door wedged or stuck open?

Fire Door Standards

British Standards
Description
BS 476: – 20: 1987
Fire tests on building materials and structures. Methods for determination of the fire resistance of elements of construction (general principles)
BS 476 – 22: 1987
Fire tests on building materials and structures. Methods for determination of the fire resistance of non-loadbearing elements of construction
BS 476: – 23: 1987
Fire tests on building materials and structures. Methods for the determination of the contribution of components to the fire resistance of a structure
BS 476: – 31.1: 1983
Fire tests on building materials and structures. Method of measuring smoke penetration through doorset and shutter assemblies. Method of measurement under ambient temperature conditions
BS 8214: 2016
Code of practice for fire door assemblies
BS EN 1634-1: 2014 + A1: 2018
Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door, shutter and openable window assemblies and elements of building hardware. Fire resistance tests for doors, shutters and openable windows which is an alternative for BS 476 – 22: 1987

Please note that this article provides basic easy-to-understand guidance of fire safety provisions and the key fire safety information required to comply with legislation. Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. We aim to assist you to understand the fire-related terms within your Fire Risk Assessment.  It does not provide detailed technical guidance on all fire safety provisions, and you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.

Fire Risk Consultancy Services have the knowledge and experience to assist your business to comply with all legal requirements surrounding fire safety including legislation. Be sure to read our accompanying guides: Fire Alarm System Types, Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Lighting, Fire Safety Signs, also published on this site. 

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