Passive Fire Protection helps maintain the integrity of your building, containing the fire to save lives, reduce damage to your premises and prevent the loss of valuable assets.
The key to passive fire protection is to contain the fire to a particular compartment or room, giving occupants enough time to escape and the emergency services enough time to enter the building and tackle the fire.
Fire doors are an integral part of this, designed to prevent the fire or smoke from spreading.
Fire Doors work together in an integrated system in order to preserve life and property by:
1 – compartmentalising a fire; and
2 – creating and protecting an escape route through the building. For example, to protect a corridor from rooms opening on to it, or a stairwell from the corridor(s) it serves.
In serving to compartmentalise a building and/or preserve an escape route, the function of a fire door, when closed, is to provide resistance to smoke/fire for a minimum specified length of time.
Typically, this is 30 minutes or 60 minutes (FD30 or FD60). It is possible to have steel fire doors offering up to 4 hours resistance but this level of protection is usually only a requirement in specific, high-risk environments.
Thirty minutes should, in most situations, allow for the evacuation of premises and response of the emergency fire services. Your Fire Risk Assessment should identify which level of fire resistance your fire doors should require.
Fire Door Installation
The installation of a fire door is as life critical as the product specification itself.
As such, although a competent professional can install a fire door, it is recommended that the work be carried out under the BWF Fire Door Alliance Door Scheme.
The purpose of this scheme is to ensure that fire door installations are carried out correctly, safely and in compliance with current Building Regulations.
This video produced by the BWF Fire Alliance Door Scheme shows why specification and correct installation are so important to the performance of a fire door, it features a simple 5 step check, a 3D animation and a real life test that shows just what happens when it goes wrong.
Fire Door Inspection
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the responsible person in your building/s should carry out regular checks of the fire doors within your premises to ensure fire doors are repaired and maintained as fit for purpose.
Fire door inspection shows whether or not fire doors are compliant and if remedial work is necessary. The remedial work will be outlined in the inspection report and will identify if a door needs replacing or can be repaired.
It is a recommendation to BS 9999 that all fire doors, frames and ancillary components are examined every six months.
A 2019 review undertaken by The Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) certificated fire door inspectors revealed the extent of fire door failures seen on site:
- Over 61% of fire doors inspected had problems with fire or smoke seals
- More than a third had incorrect signage
- 230 fire doors inspected had gaps bigger than 3mm between door and frame
- More than 20% had unsuitable hinges
- Almost 1 in 6 had damage to the door leaf
(Source: FDIS 32)
Intumescent seals and cold smoke seals
A fire door required to provide resistance to the passage of an aggressive fire must be fitted with intumescent seals. Though intumescent products remain passive in normal temperature conditions, they come to life in the extreme heat of a fire, swelling to fill gaps and preventing the passage of smoke and hot gases.
There are three types of door seal designed to maintain the integrity of the door set:
- Intumescent seals designed to maintain the integrity of the door set
- Smoke seals to restrict the flow of cold smoke before the intumescent seals become effective
- Combined intumescent and smoke seals
The ability of the door to perform in a fire is hugely dependent upon the condition and performance of these seals.
All intumescent and smoke seals should be inspected every six months.
Fire Door Checklist
Fire Doors can pose serious risk to building occupants in the event of a fire if they are not properly maintained.
This checklist has some useful observations that should be made for all fire doors. This list is NOT exhaustive and should not be used as a substitute to any recommendations but it’s a good place to start.
Are the doors wedged open?
Are there any manufacturers labels or coloured plugs?
Does the fire door fully close by itself?
Are there intumescent seals to all three edges of the door?
Is there a self-closing door device fitted and in good working order?
Is there appropriate signage fitted?
Is the glazing and beading in good condition without any cracks or movement?
Are there three hinges fitted and all have a CE mark?
Are the gaps around the door and leaf consistently 3mm +/-1mm?
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Inspection of fire doors c/w condition report
Service and repair
Installation of fire doors and doorsets
Installation of steel fire and security doors
Installation, test and repair of shutters and active fire/smoke barriers