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Fire doors.

Learn about fire doors and the standards you need to make sure a property you own or manage meets.

What do you need to know?

What are fire doors and why do they matter?

Fire doors are a really important element of your fire safety strategy. Used correctly, they stop fires from spreading through a building, giving people time to escape and the Brigade time to attend and potentially save your premises.

Getting the right fire doors in place is an important responsibility, though you will also need to consider fire detection and sprinklers.

Why do you need to provide fire doors? 

  • They are specifically designed to withstand fire for up to 30 minutes.
  • They are a legal requirement for flats which open onto communal areas shared with other tenants. This is to make sure crucial escape routes are protected if a fire breaks out.
  • They are designed to automatically close behind you in the event of fire, holding flames back and stopping the spread of the fire and toxic smoke into escape routes, corridors and other flats in the block.

Did you know? 

Property owners are required by law (The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) to make sure premises reach required standards of fire safety.

The overview

Fire door or normal door – what’s the difference?

If a fire door is properly made by a BWF certified manufacturer, with compatible parts, and certified by an accredited third party, it should hold back a fire for 30 minutes or more.

However, the components – hinges, seals, handles and glazing – are as important as the door itself. This is because, in a fire, doors can warp, move and allow smoke and fire through the opening. The seals and the gaps between the door frame and the wall are really vital too. They also stop smoke and fire spreading as quickly.

If a fire door isn’t properly installed, or you don’t use all the right seals and components like letterboxes that are fire-safe too, it can fail in under 5 minutes – see for yourself in this video.

This video shows how effective Fire Doors can be at preventing fires, and how ineffective they can be if fitted incorrectly. Make sure you're using fire doors and that they are fitted correctly.

Dos, don'ts and details

Firefighter’s tips for fire door installation and use

​There are some simple must-knows when it comes to fire doors and their safe use and installation:

Do…

  1. Get accredited professionals to install your fire doors.
  2. Check your door’s certification – look for British Standard (BS) Parts 22 and 31 or BS EN 1154.
  3. Make sure there are combines smoke and fire seals around the door.
  4. Check the handles close properly.
  5. Make sure that seals and other components like letter boxes are fire-safe too.
  6. Make sure you have appropriate door closure mechanisms – the wrong 'closers' can physically damage frames and hinges through slamming, as well as causing injury to the people who use the doors.

Don’t…

  1. Prop them open or let your people prop them open – doors can save lives if they are shut.
  2. Install fire doors yourself – the components and seals are as important as the door itself.
  3. Let tenants replace fire doors if your building is a block of flats.
  4. Remove the self closing device fitted to the door.
  5. Leave damaged doors in use – always have them repaired or replaced ASAP.

 

Who is responsible for fire doors?

If you are responsible for a property, it's likely that you need to make some fire safety precautions to keep the people who use it safe. This includes almost all buildings, places and structures other than individual private homes – that's individual flats in a block or family homes. Property manager's responsibilities include shared areas in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), blocks of flats and maisonettes. 

What about old doors – are they OK?

There is a difference between modern fire doors and their requirements and older type doors, often called ‘Notional fire doors’.  These doors may have been in place for many years and met earlier standards of manufacture and legislation. However, this doesn't mean that they are now not fit for purpose, providing they are still in good condition they will still provide the service for which they were intended.

Modern doors are equipped with what's called intumescent strips and cold smoke seals. Older ‘notional’ doors may not have these fitted, and are often fitted into frames with a 1 inch or 25 mm door stop. The ‘notional’ door may be suitable in place if it is not warped or gapped to the extent that it requires replacement, its replacement will be a modern style fire door. Where doors are replaced that are required to be fire resisting they should not be replaced by ordinary doors and the person replacing the door should ensure that the door is a fire door.

Can I have a window in a fire door?

Absolutely, yes. Some fire doors are fitted with glazing – what's  termed a 'vision panel', these are subject to the test procedure when constructed and you are not allowed to retrofit glazing by cutting the door unless this is done by a door specialist, the BWF-CERTIFIRE scheme will be able to provide further information if this is a requirement. 

Hinges and letter boxes

Fire doors will have at least 3 hinges with a melting point above 800 degrees centigrade and apertures for glazing and for letter boxes should be in place at testing. Arson Reduction letterboxes are available as a retrofit to the existing aperture and can be made available form the London Fire Brigade in certain instances – you can find out more here.

How often do I need to get fire doors checked?

It depends on your circumstances. Though BWF-CERTFIRE Best Practice Guide suggests every 6 months, we believe that a risk-assessed approach is also appropriate for many. However, if your building is a hotel, or is home to anyone who might not be able to quickly respond to or escape from a fire, 6-monthly checks are essential.

Downloads and where to find out more

Doors (General Principles) – GN10

Download PDF (197kb)

Fire Resisting Standards – GN 1 (see paragraph 5.2)

Download PDF (177kb)

Door fastenings, fixings and furniture – GN 9

Download PDF (95kb)

Security doors – GN 11

Download PDF (159kb)

Electro-magnetic door holders – GN48

Download PDF (164kb)

Timber-based fire door further information

The Architectural And Specialist Door Manufacturers Association (ASDMA) provide lots of information in their knowledge centre, including a free download of the standard BS 8214.

Specialist advise is also available from the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) who run courses for individuals with regard to fire doors and their construction and use.

Fire door certification

There is a certification scheme for fire doors through the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme – visit to find out more about fire doors and their components or to find a supplier, learn how to specify correctly, and what regulations apply to a building.

You can also download the BWF-Certfire Best Practice Guide.

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