The professionals at WFP have put together an easy-to-follow guide on everything you need to know about fire doors in order to keep your business safe and lawful.
1. What exactly are fire doors and how do they function?
Fire Doors are a type of manufactured safety mechanism that, when closed, operate as a barrier to contain fire and smoke, preventing it from spreading to other parts of the building. When they’re open, though, they provide a way of escape as well as a safe route for emergency personnel to enter a structure.
Consider it in terms of dominoes. The game, not the pizza.
The spread of fire is similar to that of a domino effect; there are no barriers, thus each piece continues to fall, and the fire spreads. If you put down a barrier, the chain reaction will quickly come to a halt. Because the fire has been contained, it is now safe to proceed.
They’re an important feature of a building’s structure, made of fire-resistant materials with the sole aim of controlling fire and smoke.
2. How long can fire doors withstand the heat and smoke of a fire?
This is determined by the fire door rating, which specifies how long the door can withstand fire. The most frequent British Standard ratings (as stated in BS 476-22) are FD 30 and FD 60, which provide fire resistance for 30 and 60 minutes, respectively. However, you may get ratings that allow for up to 120 minutes of fire resistance, but the bare minimum is 30 minutes. The type of fire door that should be installed depends on the building’s architecture and the nature of its day-to-day operations.
It’s vital to realize, though, that fire doors aren’t indestructible. A fire door can only perform its function if it is kept shut, undamaged, and well maintained!
3. What are the different parts of a fire door?
A fire door is made up of several components, and you should be able to recognize the following:
- The door leaf is the door itself, which must be produced and certified with a fire rating appropriate for the building in which it will be used.
- Door frame – this must be compatible with its counterpart, the door leaf, and properly installed to ensure that the gaps are adequate and fulfill the size requirements.
- Smoke/Fire seals – when closed, these should fill all gaps surrounding the door leaf.
Intumescent strips – unlike smoke seals, which maintain their shape around the frames of fire doors at all times to prevent fire and smoke, intumescent strips expand when subjected to severe heat, sealing the space around the door frame even more.
Hinges – to guarantee that the door opens and closes smoothly, they must have the suitable fixings in the exact locations, as well as the appropriate hinge pads.
A metal box linked to an arm behind the fire door at the top (which often goes unseen! ), although not all fire doors have a door closing mechanism, is another facilitator to ensure the door closes automatically.
Latch/lock (to keep the fire door shut) – this is also included in the intumescent protection for fire/smoke resistance.
When the door leaf is closed, the threshold seals close the gap underneath it.
Signage (clearly indicating that it is a fire door and that it must be kept shut) – a blue circular sign stating that it is a fire door and that it must be kept shut is commonly found on a fire door.
Some fire doors feature glazed panels that must be fire resistant and have intumescent glazing seals installed. Where more ventilation is required, air grilles are employed, which are designed to close if the fire alarm is activated. Additional ironmongery, such as push bars and push pads, may be seen on some fire doors to allow for simple escape in an emergency.
4. What is the significance of fire doors?
In actuality, smoke has a greater impact on individuals than the fire itself. Because they can survive smoke and fire, fire doors are a lifeline in this situation. Smoke seals, for example, around the door edge and frame seal gaps to prevent smoke from getting in and causing inhalation. When exposed to heat, intumescent strips expand to several times their original size, sealing the gaps surrounding the door and containing the fire and smoke.
They’re a critical component of your building’s fire safety plan.
5. Are fire doors and fire door maintenance a legal requirement?
Yes! The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), which covers all non-domestic and communal places, requires the ‘Responsible Person’ (usually a building owner or management) to take actions to eliminate or decrease fire hazards. This includes completing a Fire Risk Assessment and implementing the assessment’s recommendations to provide a safe and legal environment, as well as providing proper fire safety training for employees.
Building Regulations (also known as Approved Documents) are a rule book for legal compliance that builders must follow for new buildings and older buildings that have undergone an alteration or addition, although existing buildings are subject to the RRO as noted above.
Then there are the British Standards for the design, installation, and maintenance of fire doors, which include:
The British Standard BS 8214:2008 specifies fire door assembly specifications and inspection recommendations.
The British Standard (BS) 9999:2009 is a code of practice for building design and management that includes emergency exits for disabled and vulnerable people. This is a term that can be used to describe the design of new buildings as well as extensions and alterations.
The British Standard BS 5839-1:2017 covers fire alarm system design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance. This is true for fire doors with Door Hold Open devices, such as where the fire alarm has an operational cause-and-effect to close all fire doors instantly once the alarm is triggered.
Failure to properly install and maintain fire doors in your building puts lives at danger and can lead to legal action.
6. How frequently do fire doors need to be serviced?
A fire door maintenance service/inspection is recommended every six months by British Standards (particularly BS 8214 and BS 9999), however the best course of action is to have a risk-assessed recommendation that is customized especially to your building requirements. For example, your location may see more foot traffic than others, necessitating more regular inspections. During your Fire Risk Assessment, your Fire Risk Assessor will advise you how often your fire doors should be maintained.
Following the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, a number of repair initiatives and inquiries into passive and active fire prevention are underway across the United Kingdom. Following one building surveyor’s findings, the Fire Industry Association highlighted a significant lack of maintenance records, missing or erroneous fire escape signage, and even incidents where fire doors had been locked or had the intumescent seals painted over, rendering them useless.
As a result, if you don’t inspect your fire doors on a regular basis, they could become completely ineffective without your knowing. Just because fire doors are installed doesn’t guarantee they’re in good functioning order; they, like everything else, require regular maintenance.
7. Who should be responsible for maintaining fire doors?
It, like all of your building’s passive and active fire safety systems, should be maintained by a qualified specialist with the necessary insurances and UKAS accreditations. This means that their processes are audited by third-party certification schemes and that they adhere to British Standards. BM TRADA Q-Mark Certification, Certifire (Warringtonfire), IFC Certification Ltd, BlueSky Certification, and BRE Global are all UKAS recognized organisations for fire doors.
Always ask for accreditations to guarantee that the company you hire is trustworthy and qualified to maintain your building’s fire doors, and keep the service reports for your records as proof of your diligence in keeping your building safe and legal.
8. What should I do in the interim between maintenance visits?
Checking fire doors in between services is something that is frequently ignored. Weekly inspections for obstacles to fire doors (as well as any that are left open!) are recommended. and a visual inspection of the hinges for any damage, ensuring that they close properly without adhering to the frame Any damage should be reported to your fire door service provider right away for repair.
When performing your weekly fire door checks, keep the following observations and questions in mind:
- Does the self-closing technology on the fire door allow it to close completely and securely on its own?
- Is there any harm to the self-closing device? (For example, is there any oil leaking and is the arm secure and functional?)
- Is there a 4mm space between the door lead and the door frame?
- Is the door leaf and frame in good shape and free of damage?
- Is it possible that the hinges are loose or damaged?
- Are all of the controls secure and working properly?
- Are the intumescent and smoke seals intact (not missing, damaged, or painted over)?
- Is the door identified as a fire door with the proper signage?
- Are there any fire doors that have been impeded or that have been left open?
9. Where should fire doors be installed?
All public, commercial, and multi-occupancy buildings require fire doors. (Fire doors, for example, are not required in a regular family home but are required in a block of flats.)
A fire door is necessary on every level of a domestic dwelling with more than two storeys to separate the stairs from every inhabited room. They’re also required for loft conversions and the connection of a house to an attached garage.
A fire door is required in mixed-use buildings to separate non-domestic (commercial) areas from domestic (residential) areas.
It’s a little more challenging for non-domestic structures because each one is unique. The building is divided into various portions for horizontal and vertical escape routes, according to the instructions. This is frequently taken into account in the design of a building before it is constructed.