Fire Door Safety – do you know what to look for?

Fire doors can save lives. It is therefore important that they are regularly inspected and maintained (by competent, trained and accredited persons) to permit them to perform correctly when needed.

The most reliable way to identify a fire door is to look for its certification label. Fire doors will have a certification label on the top edge of the door leaf.

Some simple visual checks can additionally be carried out locally to spot any obvious defects.

Below are some basic facts and easy visual checks that can be done (this does not override the need for professional checks and certification to also be undertaken).

Some common facts:

By law, designated fire doors must be self-closing and give an FD30 level of fire and smoke resistance.

Fire door ratings are commonly stated in minutes and prefixed by the letters ‘FD’: e.g. FD30 refers to a 30-minute fire door or fire door set; in other words, one that offers at least 30 minutes of protection against fires. The most commonly specified integrity levels are:

  • FD30 – 30 minutes
  • FD60 – 60 minutes (usually in commercial premises)
  • FD90 – 90 minutes
  • FD120 – 120 minutes

Fire doors should have automatic closing devices (fire door closers) fitted. Spring-loaded self-closing hinges and concealed Perko door closers with chains could also be seen.

Fire door hinges

fire door must have at least three hinges, any less and this is not an effective fire door.

Fire and Smoke Door Seals

When correctly installed the gaps around the tops and sides of a fire door should be less than 4mm thick. You can use a £1 coin to check as these are about 3mm thick.

Intumescent seals are essential to prevent the spread of flames and smoke. They swell in heat to seal the gaps between the door and the frame. By opening the door you can check the frame for a thin strip running down the middle.

Common problems

There are a number of common problems that often occur:

  • Foreign bodies or other objects may be obstructing a door.
  • The smoke seals may be incorrectly fitted or damaged.
  • If a latch is fitted, it may be malfunctioning or require lubrication.
  • The closing device may need adjustment to ensure that the door can be opened without undue force.

What to visually look for

  • Check for obvious damage to door face and edges.
  • Check to see any obvious wide gaps at the sides and top of the door.
  • Open the door and check that all hinges are firmly fixed with no damaged, missing or broken screws and see if any pins are becoming loose.
  • Check that the door closes fully into the door stop.
  • Look at the glazing to see if there are any cracks and glass movement in the frame.
  • Look at any letterboxes to ensure that back plates or brushes are in place and that intumescent inserts are intact.
  • Look for any damaged or missing seals.

This should help you to know what to look for when visually identifying whether a door is a fire door and whether it is working properly.

If you find any problems you should report them to a nominated responsible person who should then should contact a qualified installer to perform maintenance on the door.

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