Fire doors are a legal requirement in commercial premises and in common areas of residential accommodation. Here we explain what a fire door is, what your options are when it comes to buying fire doors, and what your obligations are in respect of fire door testing and maintenance.

All people visiting or working in commercial premises and common areas of residential blocks and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are protected by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Order is supported by a checklist of five key steps aimed at keeping people safe in respect of fire hazards and in the event of fire breaking out whilst they are on the premises. One of these key steps is the need to identify and protect escape routes.

Fire escape routes must be protected from fire, and fire doors form a vital part of this process.

What is a Fire Door?

A fire door is, according to the Architectural and Specialist Door Manufacturers Association (ASDMA), a fire door is:

“A complete installed door assembly comprising doorframe, door leaves, other panels, hardware, seals and any glazing that when closed is intended to resist the passage of fire and smoke in accordance with specified performance criteria. A fire door = a complete installed assembly.”

Fire doors are usually constructed of solid timber. Glazing must be fire resistant and the doors must be able to control the spread of smoke and fire. Smoke seals will play an important role, and must be fitted in such a way that they do not stop the door from closing properly.

The doors are fitted with intumescent seals which prevent hot gases passing through any gaps between the door and frame. The seals remain inactive until they come into contact with heat, at which point they expand to fill the gap and in doing so prevent smoke and fire passing through. Intumescent hinge pads are also fitted in order to prevent the hinge burning into the wood during a fire.

Every aspect of a fire resistant door has to be fire rated standard; they must be fitted with automatic closing devices and should display the relevant signage in line with the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

Fire Door Ratings

Fire doors, when they are closed, must provide resistance to smoke or fire for a minimum period of time. Standard timber construction fire resistant doors will offer 30 minutes’ resistance. These are called FD30 fire doors and are suitable for domestic premises. There are also FD60 fire doors that offer 60 minutes of protection and these will be thicker in construction and suitable for higher risk premises and rooms presenting hazards, such as boiler rooms.

Fire Door Compliance

Fire doors must conform to British Standard BS476. In order to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, fire doors must provide a minimum 90cm clearance and have vision panels that are suitably placed for wheelchair users.

Fire Door Testing

Fire doors must be manufactured and installed expertly so that they comply with legislation and, what’s more, they must be periodically inspected to make sure they are working properly and will perform when required. The testing of a fire door is in fact as important as testing a fire extinguisher or a fire or smoke alarm.

We have talked a lot in the past about the importance of keeping an eye on doors as the weather conditions change, because climatic factors can affect how things like locks and automatic door closers perform.

In terms of fire resistant and fire escape doors, the closers are of key importance, so they should be checked at least every six months or perhaps more so in high traffic areas. Failure to maintain fire doors sufficiently can result in prosecution and the building in question may even be closed down. Fire door testing is an enforceable requirement under the Order but perhaps more importantl it has the objective of preventing tragic incidents.

Time for New Fire Doors?

Is it time to replace your fire doors? Perhaps you are looking to strengthen your existing fire doors to make them more secure? You may wish to combine fire and intruder prevention. Whatever you require, Barry Bros Security has the expertise and experience to advise you on the best solution to suit your individual needs. For tailored advice from security industry professionals, please get in touch.