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Ironmongery & Your Apartment Fire Doors

Door hardware is an essential component to your apartment fire door’s performance. Whilst it may vary from door type to door type, it will normally consist of:

– Hinges

– Self-Closing Device

– Lock or latch

These are critical to a fire doorsets performance and must all be CE* marked to ensure compliance with timber fire doorset certification.

* CE Marked means that the manufacturer has checked that these products meet EU safety, health or environmental requirements. It is an indicator of a product’s compliance with EU legislation

CE marking will be replaced by UKCA marking for goods entering the Great Britain market, which includes England, Scotland and Wales, however, all current testing certification is compliant with CE marking.

In this post, we explore what you should know about fire door ironmongery as a designer or specifier, and what you can do to make an impact on your next project.

Read on to find out more…

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Essential & Non-Essential Ironmongery

Before you consider the exciting ways that decorative ironmongery can enhance your doorset, it is important to understand the extremely important part that ironmongery plays within a fire doorset test.

There is very little dispensation allowed in moving away from “essential” ironmongery.

Essential Ironmongery

The role of essential ironmongery is to hold the fire door in place in the event of a fire.

How does this work?

During a fire, the door leaf will burn. If unchecked, the side attacked by the fire will contract with the leaf edges, moving towards the fire, and more importantly, out of the frame.

Door closers, hinges, locks and latches are all considered essential ironmongery. This means they help to hold the door leaf in place until the intumescent strip is activated and expands to seal the door leaf into the frame.

At this time, the ironmongery has served its “essential” purpose and the integrity of the manufactured doorset takes over. Essential ironmongery must therefore carry fire test evidence to show suitability for use on fire doors.

There is now a variety of tested and certificated door closers available, including concealed overhead and jamb-mounted closers and floor springs. Not all essential ironmongery is required on all doors as we explain below.

The definition of essential ironmongery is ‘items vital to achieve the desired level of performance of a fire door assembly’. These include:

– Pivots or hinges that attach the door onto the frame and may also help to stop the door bowing.

– Door closing devices, typically an overhead door closer or floor spring that ensures the door closes reliably and stays shut.

– Latch or lock that is used to secure the door to prevent unauthorised use.

It is extremely important that compatible products are used and correctly installed along with any fire resistance protection that is needed. It must also be taken into account the size and fire rating of the doorset.

In particular, the larger the leaf size and the higher the fire rating, the essential ironmongery may require increasing. This is one of the primary considerations of the doorset manufacturer and will often lead to debate between them and the designer.

So, when do I not need all the ironmongery?

As a “rule of thumb” we can split essential ironmongery into two separate doorset requirements,

1. “Fire Door Keep Locked”

Service Risers, Cleaner’s Cupboards, Storerooms and the like may fall into this category where the doorset is controlled by a trained operative.

As it says on the label, the doorset must always remain locked unless an authorised person requires passage.

Why is this different?

Well, because the doorset is always locked, there is little chance it will be left open. It is therefore always ready to do its job. It won’t be part of a fire escape route as no doors can be locked if they form a fire escape route and will not, therefore, need a door closer (once considered the most expensive piece of ironmongery on the doorset).

2. “Fire Door Keep Shut”

Simply everything else. These are fire doorsets that are frequently used as passageway between areas. Offices, corridors, stairwells so on and so forth.

It is dictated that these doorsets will be used by unauthorised people who may not close the door behind them. As it says on the label, the doorset must always be shut and is therefore ready to do its job. It is likely that many of these doors will also form part of the fire escape routes, making the door closer an essential part of the ironmongery.

So why does size matter?

During a fire test, the door leaf will move as it burns, including bending towards the flame. Whilst either ironmongery set will satisfy the fire test, as widths or heights of door leaves become larger, the movement is greater and the pressure a self-closing device or ‘pivot set’ can exert may not be strong enough to keep the door within the frame.

However, a latch or lock keeps the leaf in a fixed position for longer, and this means we are allowed to make leaves taller or wider.

The One Mistake to Avoid With Fire Door Ironmongery

We strongly advise you specify the whole fire doorset (including hardware) from one manufacturer. This way, the manufacturer is responsible for supplying you with essential CE marked ironmongery to meet the specification of the doorset.

The alternative – and this is where mistakes are made – is when you get the manufacturer to make the fire door but use a different supplier for the ironmongery. This will lead to, a) a lack of accountability if things go wrong and, b) Hardware that’s not compliant with the rest of the doorset.

Getting the Most Out of Your Ironmongery Design

We work closely alongside ironmongery manufacturers and, as boundaries are pushed, many are asking us to test their innovative ironmongery with our doorsets.

Key things to look out for

Fully concealed hinges

Whilst they are fashionable, not all concealed hinges are fire certificated and approved. Of those that are, the exposed faces can be finished to match the remaining ironmongery choice.

Full-height pull handles

Again, these are fashionable, but be aware that the distance between the pull handle fixings may invalidate fire certification.

Full height push plates

These correspond with the pull handles but there is a limitation on the area of face plate metal fixed to a door leaf and its location to the door edge. When used with a high kick plate or mid rail, this area can be exceeded and may invalidate fire certification.

Door Safety Bars or Chains.

We still seek a manufacturer who can provide safety bar that either doesn’t invalidate the door leaf or requires packing pieces or additional treatment of the fire gap to maintain fire certification. With ironmongery, it can be that complicated.

Deciding Upon Your Fire Door Locking System

Of course, security in apartment blocks is crucial; some owners and tenants would probably argue even more so than fire protection since burglaries are more common than flat fires.

Given that many apartment blocks don’t have manned concierge these days, it’s important that your apartment fire door is built with a substantial locking system in place.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a three-point locking system is the only option for you, particularly when obtaining PAS 24 compliance.

However, a high-performance, quality doorset with a one-point locking system is more than capable of passing the PAS 24 suite of tests, and for design purposes, this is the option we’d recommend.

Three-point locking systems don’t leave much room for creativity, can be incompatible with key fobs (or other forms of access) and are less economical than one-point locking systems.

So, for a contemporary and traditional result, single-point locking is what we’d recommend.

Conclusion

To recap:

– Treat essential ironmongery as mandatory, although the finish and design can be yours.

– Discuss with us the varying locking requirements acceptable to meet PAS24 and Fire Certification.

– Discuss with us additional requirements for oversized door leaves.

– Work with us to produce a schedule of ironmongery. We will always advise if proposals invalidate fire certification.

– Don’t be afraid to experiment. We and our suppliers continually update our products to achieve new and exciting alternatives.

If you have any queries regarding ironmongery regulations or design, don’t hesitate to speak with an expert today, who will advise you on your options.

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