The prime purpose for fire doors is to save lives and stop the progress of fire in support of both escaping occupants and fire-fighting activities. They are an important part of a building’s passive fire protection system and an essential requirement for the vast majority of premises including residential, public buildings, offices and factories (specific building regulations must be checked).
The main functions of fire doors are:
- To allow egress from a space and to close once released
- Protect escape routes from the effects of fire (smoke, gases and flames)
- Potentially limit the amount of oxygen available to slow or stop the spread of fire.
Fire doors are designed to resist the spread of fire for a period of time, normally a minimum of 30 minutes. This allows time for people to leave the building via an escape route if other routes are compromised in the event of a fire.
Fire doors are an engineered component which includes the frame, door leaf and any fixtures and fittings. They can be solid or made with a special core, often flax board, or a wood composite material. They will be fitted with intumescent seals, installed in the frame or leaf, which seal the door on impact with heat to stop the spread of fire and/or smoke around the edges of the door. Doors will similarly be fitted with smoke seals to prevent the passage of smoke in the early stages of fire.
During fire door installation, fire rated doors must be installed correctly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction and include the specified ironmongery and other facilities which represent the doorset as originally subject to fire testing as this is critical to the door’s performance in the event of a fire. The British Woodworking Federation believes “third party certification is the only way to ensure the fire doors are manufactured consistently to protect lives and save property. Cutting corners can cost lives.”
Fire door maintenance
Because of their importance in protecting lives, it is imperative that fire doors receive regular inspections. Frequency is likely to depend on many factors, including the age and condition of the door and its frequency of use. A fire door protecting a staircase will be used far more frequently than one fitted to a boiler room for example. Fire doors should always be fitted correctly by a competent installer as they are carefully engineered fire safety devices. Similarly, they should be inspected and maintained by competent persons.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) (and similar legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland), building owners, operators, and occupiers – including landlords in residential premises – have a responsibility to ensure their properties and tenants are safe. This includes ensuring that fire doors are fit for purpose and properly maintained. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which came into force on 23rd January 2023, has made it a legal requirement for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to undertake quarterly checks on all fire doors within the premises and annual inspections on flat entrance doors.
Those with ultimate responsibility for a premises (Responsible Person) have a legal responsibility under these legislations and can be prosecuted if they do not fulfil their duties. Please contact us at Burwell Maintenance if you have any fire door maintenance requirements.