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September 23, 2020

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Fire door hardware: What you need to know

Protecting a building from the spread of smoke and fire is vital to allow safe evacuation of occupants. Here, Dominick Sandford, Director and Head of Merchandising and Marketing at IronmongeryDirect, outlines the regulations surrounding fire door installation and maintenance. 

Fire doors, while often overlooked in the day-to-day operation of a building, are critical, lifesaving pieces of equipment, so it is absolutely vital to ensure they are properly installed and maintained. There are some simple and effective points to look out for to help ensure your fire door is fully compliant and operates as intended.

Fire Door Certification

Not all doors can simply be allocated as a fire door – the main body of a fire door will have been manufactured and tested to stringent standards to ensure they operate as intended in the event of a fire.

Therefore, only fully certified doors with a CE Mark and third-party certification from schemes such as Certifire, can be classified as fire doors. The label to prove this certification will typically be found on the top of the door, but this can vary between door manufacturers. If this is not present, the performance of the door and its ability to protect building occupants in the event of a fire are not guaranteed, and it should not be considered for use.

Door Closers

For a certified fire door to be effective and legally compliant with Approved Document B of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, it must be able to fully close by itself and remain closed, in order to properly prevent the spread of smoke and fire, as well as provide safe evacuation routes from a building.

As such, door closers must comply with BS EN1154 “Controlled Door Closing Devices” and be CE marked to this standard. Much like with fire doors, the CE mark alone is not enough – closers must also be approved by a third-party scheme, such as Certifire, and should be provided with a Declaration of Performance (DoP) that demonstrates the product has met the required standards.

Of course, the doors should also be able to function properly for building occupants and not be a hindrance. If the doors are too difficult to function, the door is at risk of interference and tampering as occupants may attempt to prop the door open – thus compromising functionality and posing a risk in the event of a fire.

The Equality Act 2010 also states that physical features of a building, including fixtures, fittings and equipment, must not restrict access to people with disabilities. Therefore, fire door closers must have enough power to reliably close the door and keep it closed in the event of a fire, but not be restrictive. The Arrone AR3500 Door Closer is an ideal solution that has adjustable closing and latch speeds to suit all building occupants. It can also be fitted to exterior and interior doors up to 1100mm wide or 80kg and has a 120-minute fire rating.

For buildings operating with high footfall levels on a daily basis (such as a tourist attraction), or with peak periods (e.g. a school corridor), a solution that allows a fire door to remain open for longer periods so that occupants can travel easily throughout the building is ideal. Of course, this still must conform to regulations set out in Approved Document B.

For example, the Agrippa Magnetic Door Holder uses a permanent magnet to hold the door open as required. The device ‘learns’ the sound of the fire alarm and will release the door upon hearing it. The wire-free holder is easy to install and can be discretely fitted at the top of the door.

Intumescent Strips, hinges and gaps

Intumescent strips are a further, crucial component of a completely compliant fire door. When exposed to heat, these seals will expand to completely seal the gaps around the door, trapping smoke and flames and preventing danger spreading beyond the door. These must be maintained and kept in good condition.

As a rule of thumb, to check that the door is properly sealed, gaps around the door must be less than 4mm on the sides, and up to a maximum of 8mm below the door.

Hinges must also be properly maintained, as only a properly fitted fire door will function as intended. Therefore, there must be a minimum of three sturdy hinges with all screws intact, fitted to each door.

Fire doors play a critical and live saving role within the fire safety strategy of every building. To help building owners and businesses navigate some of the legislation on this topic, IronmongeryDirect has released its Fire Door Infographic, as a visual reference guide to fire door hardware requirements. It has also released its fire protection guide, that provides more detail on legislation, compliance, and the products required.

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