Fire doors are critical passive safety features which are designed to prevent the spread of flames and smoke in a fire. But to a layman, a fire door looks much like any other door. So how do you know if your fire doors are capable of stopping a fire?
As part of Fire Door Safety Week, we follow their simple five-step guide to check if a fire door is fit for purpose:
1. Check for third-party certification labels
There is no legal requirement for fire doors in the UK to be tested by a third party, but the best manufacturers do submit doors for regular testing. Doors that are third-party certified have labels fitted which show the level of certification and full traceability back to the manufacturer. Check out the below video by The British Woodworking Federation which highlights the benefits of choosing a door which has been certified by a third-party.
2. Check the gaps around the door frame
There should be an even gap of 3mm all around the door when closed with the exception of the gap under the door which can be slightly larger but should not exceed 8mm as not to allow fire and smoke to travel through the gap.
3. Check the door has the correct seals, signs and markings
Make sure the fire door has an intumescent seal fitted around either the frame or the door itself. This component expands during a fire to prevent smoke from escaping and is mandatory on all rated fire doors, it is important that the seal isn’t damaged. All fire doors must display “Fire Exit Keep Clear” and “Fire Door Keep Shut” signs on both sides. Ideally, these signs should be stuck to the door using a strong adhesive. Signs which are screwed must have been installed by the manufacturer because drilling holes in the facing panel can compromise the structural integrity of the door.
4. Make sure all hinges are fire rated and fitted correctly
All fire doors should have fire-rated self-closing hinges fitted. The hinge grade should also match the fire rating of the door. Grade 11 hinges provide 30 mins protection, Grade 13 provides 60 mins protection. Also, check to make sure all hinges are installed and working correctly with no missing screws. Some modern doors may also have concealed Perko style hinges which may require lubrication from time to time.
5. Check the door closes properly and that it is not damaged.
A fire door that has been installed correctly should close tightly against the frame but without sticking.
Finally, you should check the door for damage. Any damage to the door surface or cracks in the glass can compromise the integrity of the door, causing it to fail more quickly. So check the door panel, glass, handle and frame for damage and report any defects to the building manager or owner.
According to BS 9999 fire safety code of practice, fire door safety checks should be carried out every six months. This might sound like a lot of work, but remember fire doors are vital pieces of safety equipment. Once the initial audit has been carried out, it should only take a few minutes to check each door individually. Also, remember to record your safety checks and develop a system for reporting and repairing defects.
You can find more information about fire door safety standards for your type of building on the Fire Door Safety Week website.