What is a Fire Door? Everything You Need to Know
Fire doors form a crucial aspect of the fire safety system within most UK buildings, preventing the passage of fire for a designated length of time. There are strict rules in place governing their performance, installation, and the locations they are required. In this guide from Sentry Doors, a fire door manufacturer with 3 decades of experience, we’ll cover the essential information about fire doors; How they’re manufactured and installed, the different types available, and the places they are required in the UK.
What is a Fire Door?
A fire door is a door that has been specifically built to impede the spread of fire, usually for a minimum of 30 minutes. This means that both flames and smoke will not pass through or around it. Fire doors will be used to contain a fire, keeping it within one area of a building, allowing those within the building the time needed to safely evacuate.
Fire doors double as a means of escape, clearly signposted for routes either out of a building or to a safe area within the building. There are strict regulations governing fire doors within the UK, both for the standards of the doors and fittings, and the places where they must be installed. Certified fire doors are a vital safety feature of domestic and commercial buildings.
What Are Fire Doors Made From?
Most standard fire doors have a wooden exterior with a solid core of a different material, such as hardwood. These are sometimes known as composite doors, though not all composite doors will be fire rated. Fire doors can also be produced with metals like steel and aluminium, and with gypsum.
There will be fire door styles that include glass vision panels, which will need to offer the same level of fire resistance. Double fire doors are also available, offering enough opening width for wheelchair users and also benefiting buildings with high traffic. Alongside the door itself, all aspects of the fire door, including frames, hinges, and closers will need to offer fire resistance.
Fire Door Specifications
Fire doors are subject to strict regulations in the UK, to ensure that they offer suitable performance in the event of a fire.
What Are UK Fire Door Regulations?
Fire doors will need to offer a set level of fire resistance, with fire door suppliers such as Sentry Doors subject to rigorous testing to ensure the performance of their products. Every aspect of a fire door will need to meet these standards, including the door, doorframe, any strips, self-closers, or signage. Fire doors will need to automatically close, and can only be kept open through the use of a fire door retainer, which will automatically release the door in the event of a fire.
A fire door will have a gap of between 2mm and 4mm and will be bordered by intumescent strips to create a tight seal, preventing the passage of smoke, which can often be more dangerous to occupants than flames. All fire doors will need a “Certified Fire Door” label, and an attached sign reading “Fire Door Keep Shut”.
Fire doors must currently be fitted by a “competent person” to meet regulations. While building regulations do not specify the qualifications needed for someone to be a competent person, there are accreditation schemes available, such as a Q-Mark Fire Door Installation Certification from BM TRADA. Non-domestic buildings must follow the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO), under which a single “Responsible Person” will oversee the provision and maintenance of fire doors.
FD30 vs FD60
Most fire doors within the UK will have a fire rating of either FD30 or FD60. These ratings are simply the number of minutes that the door is certified to stop the spread of fire and smoke, offering a 30 or 60-minute evacuation window. Alongside the door and doorframe, an FD60 door will need to have its hinges, seals, closers and any other elements certified for 60 minutes.
Whether FD30 or FD60 fire doors are needed will depend on both planning laws, and on the results of a fire risk assessment, where a trained professional will review a full building and make recommendations for fire safety, including the placement and strength of fire doors. Doors of a higher strength are available, but will typically be reserved for industrial environments, or areas of a building that need protection from a fire, such as a server room.
Where Are Fire Doors Used in the UK?
Fire doors are required in all commercial and some domestic properties, aiding escape in the case of a fire. There are different regulations in place for commercial and domestic buildings, though the FD30 and FD60 fire doors used will be subject to the same rules.
Fire Doors in Commercial Properties
Within commercial or non-domestic buildings fire doors will be utilised to create escape routes from all areas of the property. This can be either a horizontal or vertical escape route, with vertical routes directing people towards a stairwell, and horizontal routes directing people towards a safer area within their floor.
Each door along the escape route will need to be fire rated. The ideal locations for fire doors and the strength needed will be determined through a fire risk assessment. It’s also worth noting that any door bridging domestic and commercial spaces will need to be fire rated. Fire doors can also be used to compartmentalise areas of fire risk, such as kitchens.
Fire Doors in Domestic Properties
Any domestic building with more than two storeys will need a door at every gap between stairwells and habitable rooms. This means that in a block of flats each flat door will need to be fire rated. Doors to converted lofts and integral garages will also need to be fire rated.
How Are Fire Doors Inspected?
Fire door inspections are the obligation of a building’s Responsible Person, with professional fire assessment companies available to carefully check each door, making sure they are correctly fitted without gaps, that they will close automatically, and that there is no visible damage. Currently, British standards recommend checking fire doors every 6 months, though a recent inquiry has recommended checking fire doors in residential buildings every 3 months, so that number could change.
Bespoke Fire Doors From Sentry Doors
Sentry Doors produces a range of bespoke fire doors, primarily for clients within the social housing sector. We make Internal Flat Entrance door sets, which combine fire resistance with security, and are certified for both (Q-Mark Fire Door Manufacture and Q-Mark Enhanced Security). We also produce Communal Door sets, used to create escape routes through communal areas.
Our full range is wholly bespoke, built to your exact dimensions in either FD30 or FD60 ratings, with a selection of styles and colours. We can produce door sets with EW30 or EW60 vision panels, alongside double communal door sets. Our door sets are fully featured, hung in their frames and ready for installation. We have been providing excellent fire door sets for over 30 years, producing everything from our Doncaster factory with a consistent 6-8 week lead time.
If you are looking for bespoke fire door sets for a building project, or simply to find out more about our range of products, get in touch with a member of our team today.