The fire doorset serves four key functions: fire resistance, security, acoustic performance, and aesthetics.
But which of these takes precedent, and how will this impact your specification?
There have been situations when specifiers will unintentionally overlook one performance, or more likely, favour a differing performance requirement, when they design a doorset within a specific scenario. Not achieving a lesser desired performance may become problematic for the end-user, however, incorrect specification may lead to catastrophic consequences.
In this post, we explain why fire performance should take precedence over anything else, and why it’s important not to favour other performance characteristics if it threatens the overall fire integrity of your doorset.
What Happens When You Specify A Highly Rated Acoustic Fire Door?
It’s understandable. Noise complaints are a common occurrence within heavily populated settings. It stands to reason, therefore, that a fire doorset could be specified to provide a level of acoustic resistance.
We offer many high performance acoustic doorsets up to an acoustic performance over 44 RwdB. However, the price of high acoustic performance is an excellent perimeter sealing system. These seals perform better than the door leaf itself, and they do so by sealing the edge of the door leaf to the doorframe. Effectively, they lock the door leaf into the frame and prevent any gaps between the two.
The seals need a reasonably large force to push the door leaf into the frame. This can be achieved relatively easily using a high-end, strong door closer. However, the force to open the leaf is sometimes greater and may exceed the 20N acceptable force for DDA. This resulting required force will fail the doorsets obligations to fire because it cannot be opened easily enough in the event of a fire.
So what do you do?
The fire performance takes precedence over the acoustic performance.
We once met with a client, his building control officer and a fire officer. Standing in front of a pair of steel clad 3 metre high FD60 acoustic rated fire doors, the building officer complained that the closer force required to shut the doors was greater than 20n.
“If you ease the closer down so the doors don’t always shut properly, I will close the building” said the fire officer.
“Lessen or remove your acoustic seals or re-specify the doors, I’m not interested in any other performance. My overall objective is to save lives. The fire doors must work as fire doors”
Opening Force & DDA Compliance
Opening a door against the force of a closer can be difficult for many individuals including:
- Those who have mobility issues
- Wheelchair users
- Those who require walking aids,
- Young children
- People with luggage,
- Those using hospital trolleys
The list goes on. To comply with Building Regulations for accessibility, the opening force at the leading edge of the door should be not more than 30N between 0º and 30º and not more than 22.5N between 30º and 60º of the opening cycle.
This means that, in general, only high efficiency door closers mounted on doors with a width greater than 900 mm are likely to meet fire door requirements as well as the opening force limits described above.
What Happens When You Specify A Preference for Security?
We manufacture hundreds of PAS24 security doorsets. It is very easy to achieve a high acoustic, high fire performance security doorset when you know what you are doing.
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for clients to “enhance” the security on a doorset by adding a second high level lock, or crash bar or external lock to keep others out.
A fire doorset is a passive fire break. It is designed to be used as a normal doorset all of the time but as an immoveable fire break in an emergency. The operation of that doorset cannot be compromised during that emergency, and a second lock prevents unhindered access – as does external bolts or crash bars.
It must be possible at all times to escape through a door in the direction of the escape route. By all means, lock the door to stop persons getting in, but never in the direction of the escape. If you have to do this, review your fire strategy. It is flawed.
Unfortunately, you wont have to go further than your local shops to see a fire doorset with internal bolts (or a chain fitted around a crash bar) to prevent shop lifters running out of the store. If only the manger unlocked the devices immediately before the fire……….
What Happens When You Specify A Preference for Aesthetic?
We are an authority on manufacturing fire certified doorsets with bespoke and exciting finishes. Not only do we have an extensive library of solutions, we have strong relationships with assessment houses prepared to underwrite the construction of the unusual.
Never overrule the advice from a bona fide doorset manufacturer if they advise you against using a particular type of finish (or area of finish). The complexity of fire doorset performance during a fire is immense. Don’t accept that having seen it done before means it was certified then either.
Our sister company RW Maintain is currently removing someone else’s great looking doorsets and replacing them with new certified ones. Why? Because the client wanted a very narrow stile between the vision panel and leaf edge.
Fire, then security or acoustic and then aesthetic.
At RW Doorsets, we’ll fulfil all four aims effectively, yet we always ensure the fire integrity comes first. To discuss your upcoming project with an expert, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.