Why do we require fire doors?
Fire doors are required to resist the spread of fire, smoke, and heat for a period of time, usually 30 or 60 minutes, this gives the occupants of a building time to evacuate the building safely. In holding back the fire and smoke, escape routes are kept clear and the spread of the fire is reduced. Fire resisting partitions that require a door, must have a fire door fitted.
Fire doors need to comply with British Standards BS 476-22 or BS EN 1634-1. These standards ensure the door has been tested with its frame as to resisting collapse for not less than one hour and resisting the passage of flame for not less than 20 minutes.
The majority of fire doors are fitted with a door closure, apart from locked cupboards or service ducts.
Fire doors should be designed with a purpose-built frame to ensure the integrity of the two items being able to perform to the standards stated above.
All our fire doors are supplied with the following:
British Standard 476 Part 22 Fire Door, either 30 or 60-minutes
British Standard Kite Mark
Combined heat and cold smoke seals
3 fire hinges
Fire-resisting glazing where appropriate
12-months manufacturer’s guarantee
There is a very good reason to ensure your fire doors are kept closed. However, many individuals are not aware of the importance of fire doors and because of this ignorance, you will find wedged open doors or doors held open by fire extinguishers on many premises. This practice is often done to allow easy access or to increase ventilation.
Fire doors form part of a fire compartment. What is a fire compartment? A fire compartment is an area within a building which is completely surrounded by fire resistant construction. The purpose of a fire compartment is to slow down or prevent the spread of fire within a building. The fire door forms part of this fire compartment barrier. Therefore, by leaving a fire door open, you have, in fact, created a breach within the fire barrier allowing smoke, toxic gases and fire to spread from one area of the building to another.
How can we overcome the problem
Fire training is very important to educate staff on the importance of fire doors. Fire Systems Ltd, now provide very cost effective online fire training. This method of training is very successful as it allows staff to receive fire training from their place of work or desk as long as they have an internet connection. Following the training, the member of staff sits through a basic test to ensure they have understood what has been taught. A certificate is given to the member of staff on completion of all five fire safety training modules.
Connecting your Fire doors to your fire alarm system
If having all your fire doors closed at all times is a problem or inconvenience, you can get around this by legally by connecting your fire doors to your fire alarm system. This can be done in many ways, but basically, it would involve having a magnet powered by the fire alarm. On the fire door, itself is a metal plate. Opening the door to its full position allows the plate on the door to connect to the magnet and the door will be held open for a long as there is power to the door magnet. In the event of a fire alarm activation, the fire alarm removes the power to the door magnet and this, in turn, releases the door to its closed position. It is important to mention that the door must have a mechanical door closure to ensure that the door will close on the release of the door magnet.
Another method is the use of a “Dorgard” by fireco. A Dorgard is not directly connected to the fire alarm system, but it is an independent unit fitted directly to the fire door. The Dorgard operates by hearing the fire alarm sounding for a period longer than 14 seconds. Using the Dorgard is cost effective, but it is not as robust as connecting the doors directly to the fire alarm as stated above. For example, I do not believe Dorgard would be suitable for buildings such as schools, hospitals, large hotels, etc.
Upgrading Existing Doors
There are occasions that due to budget restrictions, that it may be necessary to retain existing doors, but increase their fire resistance. This can be achieved by covering the face of the door on the risk side of the room with a minimum of 6mm of an approved fire resisting board, e.g. Masterboard or Supalux fitted flush with the framing of the door.
Fire doors in the open position;
Fire doors should not normally be held open except by a proper device like a “Dorguard” or if it has an automatic door closing device that is linked to the fire alarm system.
Having your fire doors linked to the fire alarm is the preferred means of keeping the doors open. In the event of a fire alarm activation, a signal is sent either by wiring to an interface linked to the power supply or the same effect can be achieved using wireless technology.
Fire doors should never be held open using objects such as fire extinguishers or by wedging something under the door.
Which way should a fire door open?
Ideally in the direction of escape but circumstances may dictate otherwise:
If few people will use that door to escape it is acceptable for it to open inwards
If the door opens directly onto an escape route or corridor so as to partially obstruct the corridor, as long as it does not delay escape unduly, the fire door can open inwards.
Some final exit doors or entrance doors need to open inwards to protect passers-by.
Fire Systems Ltd, install and maintain all types of automatic fire alarm door closures. For more information contact our office for further details.