In order to be on point in a state of emergency, every fire-rated door has to comply with the relevant local standards and regulations. This opts for a door specialist with thorough knowledge of the key parts of this type of doors which have to be assessed on a regular basis. This will ensure that the unit is operating properly and will serve effectively in times of need.
Door closer and proper closure
Obviously, a fireproof door needs to be closed in order to work as supposed to. Otherwise, it will be completely useless. In other words, the door must close firmly onto the latch without sticking on the frame or the floor.
You can check if everything’s fine easily by opening the door halfway and letting it in order to see whether it closes itself properly. As mentioned above, all hardware related to the door must comply with the anti-fire standards.
The number of fire exits, alternative exits and door width
Depending on the occupants of the property and the distance from the nearest exit, the number of fire-rated doors may vary. As a general rule of thumb, there are usually at least two escape routes. Of course, exceptions can be made in cases where the distances are not so big. At least one escape exit is required for a building with 60 occupants and at least two if the number rises to 600.
What is more, there’s a standard width which corresponds to the maximum number of persons in the building. For example, in Approved Document B, the recommended width is 750 mm for a maximum of 60 occupants and 1050 mm when there is a maximum of 220 persons. If the number of occupants is higher than 220 people, then the width of the door rises by 5 mm for each person.
Each door has different widths and dimensions. For example, a bi-fold door will not be able to fit where a wooden door used to be without any modification. Hence, before purchasing a dire rated door, you should check the standard width of a fire rated door.
In the DCLG guidance, the standard width is 750 mm for a capacity of 100 people and a 1050 mm door for 200. When deciding which one to use, you should bear in mind that the Building Regulations apply to new builds and alterations while the DCLG guidance applies to the existing premises.
Basically, every fire rated door has a certification label. Usually, such labels or plugs are placed on top or on the side of the door. Without a certification mark, you can’t be sure that the particular door is really fireproof and therefore you should report the issue to the person responsible for the property’s safety.
What you can do to check whether a door is certified is to use the selfie function on your phone’s camera or a mirror. Ensuring your door is fireproof certified will prevent possible misunderstandings and incidents.
Vision panels for fire doors
Vision panels, or the small rectangular windows, are included for various reasons. They are not only used to add aesthetics to fire-rated doors but also to provide additional sight in states of emergency. Obviously, one of the vision panels’ aim is to allow daylight through the fire door so as to be able to see and be seen by standing near it.
Probably one of the most important parts of a fire-rated door, intumescent seals are crucial to preventing smoke and fumes from entering the safe compartments in a state of fire. These seals, along with cold smoke seals, are able to resist the passage of fire and smoke.
Moreover, the latter are designed to expand at temperatures above 200° and thus seal any gaps between the door and the frame. In addition, acoustic seals may also be included. It’s important to make sure whether all intumescent seals are intact and there are no signs of damage.
Securing Emergency Fire Exit Doors
As stated in the “Emergency Routes and Exits” article in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, “In the event of danger, it must be possible for persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible”. Apart from your exterior main door, there should be no other obstacle standing between you and the escape route.
For this reason, in most cases, emergency doors should be opening in the direction of escape, whereas no sliding or revolving doors should be used as emergency exits.
Additionally, the emergency fire doors mustn’t be obstructed, e.g. locked or fastened in a manner in which they cannot be effortlessly and immediately opened. Although the RRO only applies to England and Wales, other regions of the UK also have similar legislation.
An essential factor, gaps around the top and sides as well as underneath the fire door should also comply with certain standards. The top and side gaps of the door should be consistent and shouldn’t exceed 4 mm when closed.
On the contrary, the gap underneath the door is usually slightly larger and can even reach 8 mm in some cases. It’s important to know that there shouldn’t pass any light under the door. Otherwise, smoke and fire could easily pass through the cracks.
It is important to note that if you are replacing your front door, for example, a hardwood front door, with a fire-rated door, the dimensions for the door frame may differ.
Fire door retainers
A common problem among fire doors is the wedged or propped open doors. Such doors surely are heavy and often obstruct easy access through different parts of buildings.
Moreover, they prevent the free flow of air. All these factors often tempt the residents of buildings with fire doors to prop them open, which is actually completely wrong and wedging a fire door open is basically dangerous and even illegal.
If you want to make sure a fire door is firmly fixed, then you should check the hinges. There should be no missing or broken screws. There should be three or more hinges that should be properly maintained at all times so as to ensure that the unit would hold back the fire long enough to prevent further incidents.
Generally, escape routes and emergency exits shouldn’t be locked. It’s advisable that there is only one simple fastening that allows operation without the use of a key.
However, in terms of security, locking devices are a necessity. In such cases, it’s a good idea to fit a lock only on the outside, whereas it can be easily opened without a key on the inside. This is unlike HDB doors, which have locks on both sides of the door.
Other, less popular ways of dealing with the issue are the use of glass bolts or electromechanical and electromagnetic locks.
However, these options require additional training and understanding of the mechanism in order to make it work effectively.