Fire Door Safety Week aims to highlight and raise awareness of the vital importance of working fire doors, the issues and solutions and the consequences of incorrect fire doors.
Fire door safety should not only be restricted to one week, it is an immensely important and lifesaving component within a building. There are several organisations that focus on fire door safety and have certifications and accreditation’s in place to ensure they are up to the correct safety and protection standards – one of these is the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) who outline specific details on correct fire doors. We have used their knowledge and information, combined with our own experience to detail what your fire door requires to perform correctly in a fire.
Fire doors are installed in a wide number of buildings from hotels and flats to schools and hospitals and even offices. They are an often-unnoticed aspect of a building but possibly the most important and lifesaving. It is enormously important that these fire doors are manufactured and installed correctly to be able to perform. The BWF state that as long as the doors have been correctly installed, with the correct materials and are well maintained they will withhold a fire for in excess of 30 minutes, which should give plenty of time for safe evacuation.
A safe and secure fire door starts with its components, these MUST be compatible and certificated by an independent 3rd party who carry out regular tests to the complete system, and who audit the manufacturers, to ensure they are meeting all fire safety regulations. There are many different elements of a fire door: a timber core, which is sandwiched between 2 decorative faces front and back and secured with lipping – however, these alone will not withstand the danger without the other compatible components such as the fire-resistant hinges, door closer & latch, the intumescent seal and the frame. In a fire, the intumescent seal around the frame will expand stopping the door from moving and restricting the smoke from escaping through.
The compatible components that are required for full fire door safety include a fire rated glazing system – filled with the crucially important intumescent fire rated protection inside, secure air transfer grills and letter plates, which should be also installed with intumescent protection, so they will expand to stop smoke and movement during fires. Cold smoke seals should also be fitted at either side of the doors / frame in the form of brush or plastic thins that fill the perimeter gap of the closed door – this will delay the spread of the toxic cold smoke. By restricting the smoke this will help keep the area and most importantly escape routes clear and easily identifiable. You should have an even 3mm gap all the way around your door and frame, with securely installed intumescent seals that have no gaps or breaks in them. Your fire rated, intumescent glazing system should have the correct, beading securely around every edge.
The BWF states that your door must be installed to the manufactures recommendations & requirements with all the correct fire resistant fixtures & fittings, but crucially using fire stopping material between the gap and the wall – an area that often gets neglected during installation. The most common faults in safety doors that will prevent them from achieving the safety regulations are breaks in seals around doors, no fire protective hinges or letter plates, no fire rated glass (harden glass will not suffice, it MUST have the intumescent protection inside), excessive gaps between the door and frame, no smoke seals or intumescent edge protection and finally no beading around the glass. These are just some of the common issues with fire doors, there are many others that result in an unprotective fire door.
The BWF has introduced 5 quick checks of your fire door that you can carry out. Although correct regular maintenance is still required by a qualified professional, these checks can be used to highlight any crucial issues.
- Look for certificated labels or markings on your doors, panels and glass – to ensure they are fully certified and manufactured according to the leading regulations and safety standards.
- Make sure the door is marked with the correct signage – indicating that that particular door is a fire door.
- Ensure the door and frame has the fire smoke and intumescent seals and that the door closes fully with an even gap of 3mm.
- Fire rated hinges are correctly installed to the door and frame with no missing screws.
- The door has no damage to it and is never propped open or has a doorstop or wedge underneath.
If you are responsible for the fire doors in your building, please ensure you use fully certified complete product systems, fitted with all their compatible components which have been installed correctly. You need to do thorough and robust regular checks and maintenance to ensure your doors will with stand the fire and keep your building but most importantly the people inside safe.