Fire doors have an essential role to play in comprehensive fire safety. They are a requirement for non-domestic buildings and also have a range of benefits for other types of structures. If you’re keen to ensure that your passive fire protection is 100% effective, fire doors will be an essential component.
How do fire doors work?
Fire doors are used in buildings to help prevent the spread of fire and smoke in an emergency situation. They form part of a passive fire protection system that is designed to give occupants of the building more time to escape if there is a fire and to preserve the structural integrity of the building for as long as possible until the emergency services arrive. Fire doors work by creating a barrier and compartmentalising the most harmful elements of a fire – flames and smoke.
The importance of door seals
A fire door will be almost completely ineffective without door seals. These act to close the gaps on either side of a door to ensure a complete defence against flames and smoke if there is a fire. If these seals are not in place or have not been properly maintained then the fire resistance of fire doors will plummet.
Fire door sizing
There are two key elements that influence the size of a fire door. The first is that the maximum size for any fire door is 2440m x 1220mm – this is the largest option available. The second element relates to disability discrimination regulation. This states that every fire door must have a minimum width of 900mm clearance, as well as vision panels that are placed where they can be properly used.
Opening and closing fire doors
Most fire doors tend to be heavy – the average is 45kg but some can weigh more than 75kg. That’s why it’s essential that there is a well maintained self closing mechanism in place. This will not only help to ensure that no injuries are sustained, for example by anyone getting fingers trapped while using the fire door, but will also mean the fire door is fully fire resistant by being closed at all times.
The importance of hinge pads
Hinge pads have a key role to play in fire doors. They will stop the hinge burning into the wood if there is a fire as hinge pads are created from fire resistant intumescent material.
Fire doors and aesthetics
In order to ensure fire door safety it’s not advisable to alter the door too much, especially for purely aesthetic reasons. For example, fire doors should not be cut down by more than 3mm on the side of the door and 5mm on the base. Veneers are only permitted on internal doors but fire doors can be painted or varnished for a better aesthetic finish – as long as suitable materials are used.