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What is the purpose of a Fire Door?

A fire door is an important component of a building’s passive fire protection system and is legally required in particular buildings including flats, factories, offices, and other commercial or public properties.

Fire doors are an engineered component which includes the frame, door leaf and any fixtures and fittings. They can be solid or made with a special core, often flax board or a wood composite material. They will be fitted with intumescent seals, installed in the frame or leaf, which seal the door on impact with heat to stop the spread of fire and/or smoke around the edges of the door. Doors will similarly be fitted with smoke seals to prevent the passage of smoke in the early stages of a fire.

The primary purpose of installing fire doors is to save lives and they do this by performing these main functions:

  • Fitted with seals in the frame or leaf, fire doors confine a fire to a specific area for a period of time allowing people to escape
  • They protect escape routes from flames, smoke, and dangerous gases released by a fire. This allows people to safely evacuate and firefighters to access certain areas to extinguish the fire.
  • With their seals, fire doors also slows down the growth of a fire by limiting the amount of oxygen in the area

Due to these functions, fire doors are installed in areas that lead to staircases or corridors, in kitchens, boiler rooms, and storage areas holding combustible materials. Fire doors are designed to automatically close. Building occupants and property managers must ensure that fire doors are always closed and not left wedged or propped open. To this end, it helps to have a sign on the fire door saying, “keep shut” and/or “keep clear”. In cases where the doors need to be held open, they must be fitted with devices that closes the door automatically when the fire alarm is triggered.

Proper fire door maintenance

Due to their role in protecting and saving lives, fire doors must be regularly maintained and inspected. The frequency of inspections usually depend on the age, condition, and frequency of use. For example, fire doors situated by a staircase and those leading to a boiler room have different frequencies of use. Fire doors must be installed, maintained, and inspected by certified professionals.

How do you know if your fire doors are fit for purpose? Here are five things to check if they are up to standard or if it’s time to call in fire safety professionals:

  • Certification

Modern certified fire doors now have labels or coloured plugs. Older fire doors may lack these labels and can have a different design or construction particularly with smoke seals. If the fire door has a vision panel, this should be fire resistant. In the absence of wired glass, there should be a mark to confirm if it is fire resistant.

  • Gaps

Measure the gaps around the fire door to see if it is less than 4mm and consistent all throughout. Fire doors that are in excess of 4mm or have uneven gaps may have to be adjusted or even replaced. The door’s leaf and frame should also be checked for warping. Doors that are warped, bowed, or cupped may also need replacement.

  • Seals

The intumescent and smoke seals around fire doors are integral to their performance during a fire. Check the fire door if the seals are missing or damaged.

  • Automatic closure

A fully functional fire door must be able to fully close on its own. It would fail to contain a fire if it does not close all the way. Check as well the hold open device if it is fitted with one ideally during the building’s regular fire alarm test to see if the doors fully close when the fire alarm is triggered.

  • Hinges

Check the hinges that they are clean and firmly fixed. Make sure that there are no missing or broken screws. Properly maintained hinges are essential to the integrity of the fire door.

Building owners, property managers, and landlords have the legal responsibility to ensure the safety of the inhabitants and users of their properties. Due to the important role of fire doors in a building’s fire protection system, their proper installation, maintenance, and inspections must be adhered to. 

If you want to understand more details on Fire Door Surveys please click here.

At FCS we are highly experienced at conducting Fire Door Surveys, Damper Surveys and Compartmentation Surveys, get in touch with us if you would like to learn more or to schedule a call.