Do we need external fire doors header image

Do We Need External Fire Doors?

Unless you are a fire safety expert, differentiating between fire doors and fire exits can be a source of confusion.

This blog aims to help solve those common misconceptions around fire doors and fire exits to help you to make the right choices for your client, project and application.

Fire Doors or Fire Exits?

When considering fire doors and fire exits, it’s useful to understand the difference between the two.

A fire door is an internal door. Its primary purpose is to:

  • Create or protect an escape route through a building in the event of a fire
  • Compartmentalise a fire
  • Stop flames and smoke from spreading from one section of a building to another

In normal circumstances, fire doors would be required in stairwells, kitchens, storage areas and spaces which house combustible materials.

In most cases, fire doors must be kept closed at all times. However, certified fire door retainers may be used. These are specially designed to close when a fire alarm is set off.

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Key Characteristics of Fire Doors

Certified fire doors are normally made of solid timber construction. They are designed to resist smoke and flames of a fire for a minimum specified length of time.

However, it’s important to note that a fire door should not be seen simply as a ‘block of wood’ that separates one room from the next. That’s why we refer to the whole system as a ‘fire doorset’. This includes the door leaf/leaves, doorframe, relevant hardware, glazing, smoke/intumescent seals and an automatic closing device (if necessary).

To find out more on how fire resistant doorsets work, read our blog here.

Fire Exit Doors

On the other hand, we have a fire exit door. This is an external door and is very different to a fire door, as previously mentioned.

Whilst a fire door is designed to stay closed to protect individuals in a fire emergency, a fire exit door must stay open at all times. This is to allow for a quick and un-hindered escape.

However, I’m sure you’ve seen fire exits that are locked some of the time. This is because some fire exits also serve as security doors. In this instance, the door must be fitted with a panic or push bar.

If users are able to swiftly exit a building through the fire exit door, the door has served its purpose.

Should Fire Exit Doors Be Fire Doors?

No. To accomplish a swift exit from a building, a fire exit door does not have to be a fire door or doorset. In other words, fire doors and fire exit doors have different requirements, different degrees of intricacies and serve different purposes.

Conclusion: How Can RW Joinery Help You?

If you’re tasked with the specification of doors for fire safety, it’s important that you consider whether it’s for internal or external application. This will dictate the type of doorset you go for.

Here at RW Joinery, we are experts in the supply, manufacture and installation of internal fire doorsets.

We understand that a fire doorset’s primary need is to provide safety for users. In most cases, this means that an ‘off the shelf’ option is not always the most effective solution. We specialise in bespoke fire doorsets to accommodate the varying levels of architectural intricacies that many locations have.

Talk to an expert today to discuss your fire safety needs further.

RW Joinery | Get your free guide to installing fire doors


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