Although fire doors are not always required in residential properties, they are a common concern for many of our clients due to their aesthetic and costly reputation. Whether or not fire doors are required depends on the layout of the property, how complex the escape route is and the risk level identified.
The purpose of a fire door and its components is to contain the fire for as long as necessary in order for the tenants to escape from the property safely. With this in mind it is easy to understand why many escape routes that travel past a high risk room such as a kitchen will require a fire door to be fitted to that room.
In most residential properties if you require a fire door you will be asked to install an FD30 fire door. This specification indicates the minimum number of minutes that the door is capable of containing a fire (30 minutes in this instance. In a higher risk scenario you may be asked to install an FD60 fire door which is designed to contain a fire for a minimum of 60 minutes.
WHEN MIGHT YOU REQUIRE A FIRE DOOR IN YOUR PROPERTY?
In a typical 3 person shared house it would be unusual to require fire doors on the bedrooms for example. However, as mentioned above, if a kitchen leads onto an escape route (such as a hallway leading to the exit door) you may need a fire door on the kitchen.
In this in instance, the fire door would give any tenants that may be sleeping upstairs a greater chance of leaving the property unharmed. In this respect, the fire door system and the AFD system work together to alert the tenants and help them evacuate the property.
WHAT DO FIRE DOORS LOOK LIKE?
If you do require fire doors (or are concerned that you may need them), it is worth noting that many residential fire doors look identical to standard doors and in most cases can be purchased to match all existing doors in the property. It is even possible to obtain glass fire doors although there can be a premium for these doors.
IS A FIRE DOOR ADEQUATE ON ITS OWN OR DOES IT REQUIRE OTHER ELEMENTS?
It’s important to think of a fire door as a fire door system, not just the door itself.
In addition to the door, the following components must be installed and be fire rated for the fire door system to withhold fire for the minimum required time.
In order to complete the fire door system, intumescent fire door seals need to be fitted into the doorframe. If a fire starts inside a room protected by an adequate fire door system, these strips will react to the temperature change and swell to seal the smoke and fire inside the room. These are usually fitted into groove that have been cut into the door or the door frame but can also be surface mounted.
COLD SMOKE SEALS ON FIRE DOORS
In addition to Intumescent strips, many fire doors are also fitted with cold smoke seals which prevent smoke from escaping from the room long before there has been enough heat generated to activate the intumescent strips. There are however instances where cold smoke seals wouldn’t be fitted, such as when it is important for smoke to be released from the room to trigger a fire alarm.
HINGES ON FIRE DOORS
As a rule of thumb there should be three or more fire rated hinges on a fire door, and they should all be firmly fixed with no missing or broken screws. The hinges should also be CE marked.
FIRE DOOR AUTO CLOSERS
All fire doors must have a closing element that ensures that the door closes when not in use. The most obvious indicator that a door is a fire door rather than a standard door is typically the auto closer. There are different types of door closer to suit the requirements of the property and the owners aesthetic preferences.
Fire doors need to be hung precisely so that they are able to close firmly without sticking to the floor or the frame. If it catches the floor or remains wedged open it will not do its job.
Most fire doors have an external auto closer that is obvious to see. However, there is another option if you are concerned about this from a cosmetic perspective. For internal doors many of our clients choose fire doors which have ‘internal auto closers’, or a ‘concealed door closer’. In these designs the closing element is hidden inside the door itself. All auto closers regardless of type need to be CE marked.
FIRE DOOR GAPS
The gaps around a timber fire door should all be between 2-4mm. In short, you should not be able to see light through the gaps. On the underneath of some fire doors there might be a bigger gap (of up to ~8mm) but this is only if that particular door is not designed to limit ‘cold smoke’.
When a fire officer or accredited fire company tells you that you require a fire door they will be able to tell you exactly what the door is to be used for, and what the requirements will be.
FIRE DOOR CERTIFICATION
Fire door regulation requires that fire doors have a label to indicate their designated fire rating, their registration number and the manufacturers name.
The certification label is usually located on top of the door (the facet facing the ceiling), so you may need a step ladder to check (or can try using the selfie function on your mobile phone). Occasionally the label may be located on the side. If you cannot locate a label you cannot be sure it’s a rated fire door.