If a device or product has a primary objective of saving lives, you can be sure that they will be under a requirement to be inspected at regular intervals: fire doors are no different.
In order to save lives, it is vital that a fire door maintains its functional integrity and performs to the intention of its design, particularly in the event of a fire. As even the most seemingly insignificant of changes to a fire door can drastically affect its performance – potentially lowering its potential to protect lives – regular maintenance checks and fire door inspections should be performed.
What Are Fire Doors?
Fire doors, in practical terms, are intended to be the first defence against fire: to block a fire’s path and save lives. Fire doors are made from carefully engineered components, with crucial mechanisms implemented to restrict the growth of a fire, prevent the transport of smoke and withstand severe temperatures.
A well-crafted, correctly installed fire door can quite literally save lives; however, they are under extremely strict regulations, so they must be installed and maintained as well as inspected at least once every six months.
Fire Door Laws/Regulations
The primary legislation pertaining to fire door safety and inspection is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), particularly Article 17 which made it a legal obligation to competently install and maintain fire-resistant and escape doors.
The RRO not only applies to commercial buildings, but domestic properties, also: transfering the legal responsibilities of fire safety from the fire authorities to the person with the daily control of the building.
Fire doors are obligations and have crucial functions to keep people safe in the event of fire, because of this they must meet the standards under regulations, including:
- Fire safety
- Smoke prevention
- Thermal efficiency/heat resistance
With new buildings, Approved Documents are the building regulations designed to assist business owners implement the fire door requirements before construction commences.
Who is Responsible for Fire Risk Assessments?
The person who is responsible for fire risk assessments in commercial premises is a responsible person: one who is familiar with fire safety is advisable. Once the fire risk assessment has been completed, it must be included in fire management plans and should be reassessed at least once per calendar year.
Fire Door Construction
Fire doors must be designed to certain specifications and continually maintained to ensure compliance with the regulations and adhering to the moral obligations of keeping others safe.
The new Building Regulations govern the performance of fire doors and doorsets, including where they are located within the building: important, as fire doors and their placement can carefully divide a building – of well planned – to prevent the growth of fire and slow down the transfer or smoke. Fire doors and doorsets are marked in ratings of FD, measured in minutes.
Fire Door Components
In the construction and installation of fire doors certain components must feature the CE mark, including:
Must be CERTIFIRE Approved. Spring closers are useful in auto-closing open fire doors.
Must be compliant with BS EN 1935 (annex B) and CERTIFIRE Approved. They must be composed of at least half of their composition being a metal with a melting point of 800 degrees celsius.
Must be CERTIFIRE Approved before being installed into a fire door. Must have the same or similar fire-resistance performance to the other components within the fire door to preserve its overall reliability and structural integrity.
Locks and latches must be compliant with BS EN 12209.
Fire doors and components should always be purchased from approved suppliers and manufacturers: never attempt to create your own unless your business is the construction of fire doors and fire safety.
Take heed of the following advice when purchasing frames for fire doors:
- 30 minute fire doors – the frame should have a thickness of at least 450 kg/m3 and made from softwood
- 60 minute fire doors – the frame should have a thickness of at least 650 kg/m3 and made from hardwood
Always consult with the manufacturer or supplier to determine if the materials chosen are compliant with fire door safety, as some woods are not suitable.
Fire Door Seals
Fire doors must have the correct seals fitted. In practical terms, they are designed to expand when exposed to extreme temperatures, closing the gaps between the door leaf and door frame; because of this, fire and smoke is restricted from transferring to other parts of a building.
Intumescent seals are also useful: they are installed into the grooves and crevices found at the top of a door frame. Intumescent seals, when exposed to extreme temperatures, will multiply in size and seal the opening along the top of the fire door, helping to prevent the transfer of smoke and containing a fire.
Do I need to maintain fire doors?
Yes, all products designed to save lives must be inspected and maintained to ensure they are capable of functioning correctly and complying with relevant laws and other requirements. You will, ideally, check fire doors as frequently as you do fire alarms and smoke detectors.
What laws impact fire door inspection?
Fire escape doors and fire-resistance doors fall under RRO Article 17 which ensures that they are installed and maintained correctly so that they are fit for purpose. If there are breaches to the fire door safety laws, your premises may be shut down and you may be prosecuted, fined and imprisoned.
How often should fire doors be inspected?
At least once per calendar year. In busy locations, it is advisable to inspect them every six months, but checking them every three months is even better.
Can I use a wedge to keep a fire door open?
No. Fire doors should not be prevented from shutting with a door wedge. Should you notice any fire doors being propped open, remove the obstruction to allow the doors to function correctly.
Fire Door Installation
You must ensure that throughout your fire door installation process that competence is maintained throughout: it is advisable that you employ trained, competent and skilled tradesmen and professionals to design and install your fire doors.
If fire doors are incorrectly manufactured or installed they may become a fire hazard and place people in more danger. Failure to comply with the regulations will lead all fire doors in question to receive an invalidation certificate.
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