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Fire Doors – Everything you need to know 

Fire Doors - Everything You Need to Know - Trident Fire Compliance
Published: 8th February 2024

What are fire doors? 

Fire doors are an essential component of a fire compartmentation strategy. While doors will provide the same function as a generic door, such as help separate areas off from each other or provide privacy to offices and other rooms, they perform to an even higher standard and will actually prevent fire (and smoke) from spreading from one room to another.  

A fire door set is generally formed from a number of approved components which, when assembled together, will resist the effects of fire (and smoke) for a determined period of time. This includes everything from the door leaf and door frame, right down to the lock you put in the door and the signage you put on the face of the door. Every single component of a door has been tested and approved to perform in a fire. 

How do I know if I have a fire door? 

The easiest way to tell if a door is suitably fire rated is it’s certification. There are a few key items you can look out for to tell if a door is certified. The first is documentation from the manufacturer and/or installer. When fire-rated doorsets are purchased, you should receive documentation confirming the door’s fire-rating and all the other details about the door, such as who built it, what products were used, and how to best maintain and operate the door. If the doorset was then installed by a competent, third party accredited installer, you should also receive a certificate of conformity (or other certification document) which provides assurances that the doorset has been installed correctly. Usually you can find all of this in your building’s operational and maintenance manual.  

Another easy way to identify if a door is fire rated is certification on the door itself. There may be a label affixed to the top edge of the door, such as a BWF or BM Trada label, which will give you all the important details of the doorset. Another way, but may not always be the easiest, is a “door plug system”. These look like ‘trees’ in a plastic plug and are usually located in the closing edge of the door leaf, but this is not always guaranteed. These “tree plugs” will generally be able to give you an indication of the fire door’s assembly and performance. 

If you don’t have any indicators, or certification, for the doorset then the next best solution is the general assembly of the doorset. For example, is the door 44mm (for FD30) or 54mm (for FD60)? Is the door solid timber construction? Are there three, fire rated hinges fitted to the door? Are there suitably sized intumescent seals installed to the frame or door leaf? All of these signs could give you a degree of confidence that the doorset is fire rated. The most reliable way to do this would be to employ a suitably competent fire door contractor or consultant to inspect the doors and deliver their review of the doorset and its likely performance. 

Do I need to maintain fire doors? 

The only answer to this question is ‘yes!’. Fire doors are an essential part of a fire compartmentation strategy. In fact, they are one of the most troublesome passive fire protection systems because fire doors are almost constantly in use. They may be doors leading to a store room which you go in and out of every single day, or they could be the door that leads to your staircase which everyone uses multiple times every single day. This constant, repeated, use puts wear and tear on the door. It can cause components to become damaged which could compromise the door’s performance in a fire.  

It is because of this constant use that fire doors need to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis to ensure they remain up to standard and will perform should they ever be required. Fire doors should be checked at least daily to ensure they function as required, such as closing when the fire alarm is sounded, but in terms of the fire door’s condition, this is something that needs to be risk assessed. General good practice would be that fire doors are inspected every 6 months by a competent contractor or inspector who can identify the defects which require fixing and these should be fixed as soon as possible. 

There are some exemptions to this approach, such as the recent introduction of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which came into force on 23 January 2023. These regulations have now made it a legal requirement for the Responsible Person of any residential building over 11 metres tall (with two or more properties) to undertake inspections on all communal and easily accessible fire doors at least every 3 months (quarterly) with an annual inspection required on the flat entrance doors using a best effort approach (accessing as many as possible to determine common faults). However, as put earlier, other residential and commercial properties should have fire compartmentation inspected regularly as outlined by a fire risk assessor in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.   

What are the next steps? 

If you have any concerns about fire compartmentation in your building, including fire doors, your best solution is to contact a fire protection specialist or consultant. Ideally you want to employ a contractor who has extensive knowledge and understanding of fire compartmentation and passive fire protection to ensure you are obtaining the best possible advice and guidance to comply with the relevant guidelines and regulations.  

Employing a contractor could potentially give you a one-stop shop for the compartmentation works. They will be able to identify the defects and then carry out the necessary remedial works, potentially even there and then when surveying. While this is a potential option, there is a concern regarding conflicts of interest with the contractor having an interest in completing both the surveying works (identifying the issues) and then carrying out the remedial works (putting the issue right). Whereas employing a consultant/surveyor, who has no vested interest in the remedial works package, will be able to offer you completely independent advice and guidance on the remedial works required with no risk of conflict.  

How can Trident help? 

Trident Fire Compliance is a completely independent passive fire protection consultancy who specialise in fire compartmentation surveys, including fire doors. Our surveyors are trained to the highest standards including NVQ qualifications, practical experience, and membership to the Institute of Fire Engineers. Our goal is to help you identify defects and issues with your compartmentation and then advise you on the best way to put them right. If we know something is wrong, we will tell you it’s wrong. Likewise, if we know it is right, we will also tell you it’s right.  

Our range of services extend beyond compartmentation surveys. We can provide bills of quantities and specifications for the required remedial works which you can then use to obtain competitive quotations from competent contractors. That way, all the potential contractors are pricing the same scope of works, not what they think is required. When you have chosen your contractor, Trident Fire Compliance can be your eyes and ears on the ground. We offer compliance inspections on completed works to ensure the contractor is completing the fire protection works to the standards expected of them, and also that they are completing all of the works specified in the scope. Our surveyors ensure that no corners are cut and you get the best value for money and a compliant building at the end of the day.  

Discover more about the services we provide at Trident Fire Compliance.

About the author

Ben Duggan

Managing Director Ben is passionate about helping clients achieve the highest standards possible with fire protection and ensuring they deliver safe and compliant projects every time.

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