Why are fire doors so heavy?

Old fashioned weighing scales
What does a fire door weigh?

Why are fire doors so heavy?

Fire doors are usually heavier than non-fire rated doors due to their flame-resistant construction. However, because doors are hung on hinges, the force required to open day-to-day wouldn’t be noticeably greater than opening a ‘normal’ door. Fire doors feel heavy because of the door closers attached to them. These are installed to ensure that the fire door is kept shut when not in use, and are shut in the event of a fire.

Can fire doors be held open?

For people with mobility issues, heavy fire doors can be challenging. It can be tempting to deactivate door closers or prop fire doors open. However, this is unsafe, as it could allow a fire to spread through a building uncontrolled. Responsible Persons therefore have a legal duty to ensure that door closers are effective and maintained.

To overcome this issue, safe and legal ‘hold open’ devices have been developed. These can be installed during construction or retrospectively to improve accessibility for disabled people, older people, and young children.

According to the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary for anyone with a disability. Under the same act, landlords are required to make reasonable changes to accommodate disabled tenants, and can access funding to do so. Installing hold open devices is a simple solution to heavy fire doors, which improves accessibility.

Young wheelchair user at his desk, on a phone call.
Wheelchair users often struggle with heavy fire doors

Holding open fire doors for people with disabilities

Fire door retainers improve accessibility for people with mobility issues, older people, and young children. Some devices attach to a fire door and an adjacent wall, allowing it to be ‘held’ in the open position through electromagnets. Other devices use a ‘plunger’ at the bottom of the door to fix the door open. When the fire alarm is activated, the devices are deactivated and the door closer will shut the door. Different devices detect this activation either through sound, or electronically.

Dorgard Fire Door Retainers
Dorgard Fire Door Retainers
  • Hold fire doors open legally
  • Wire-free plunger based door holder
  • Certified to BS EN 1155:1997 & BS EN 1634
  • Acoustically triggered at 65dB
  • FREE extended 5 year warranty
  • FREE shipping
£87.29 ex VAT
£104.75 inc VAT
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Geofire Agrippa Door Holder
Geofire Agrippa Door Holder
  • A Legal fire door holding solution
  • Acoustically triggered by the specific sound of your fire alarm
  • Wire-free magnetic door holder device
  • Certified to BS EN 1155:1997
  • FREE extended 5 year warranty
  • FREE shipping
£103.39 ex VAT
£124.07 inc VAT
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Dorgard Pro
Dorgard Pro
  • Safe & legal system to hold open fire doors
  • Acoustic and wireless activation technology
  • Certified to BS EN 1155:1997
  • Safelincs EXCLUSIVE extended warranty
  • FREE site survey

Fire doors in care homes

Hold open devices for heavy fire doors are particularly useful in care homes, where beds and wheelchairs are transferred between rooms. This can also improve independence for those with frailty and weakness associated with ageing in a care setting.

How to make heavy fire doors easier to open

As an alternative to fire door retainers, electronic fire door closers have been developed to reduce the force needed to open the door during normal use. This can make heavy door easier to open.

When ‘on’, these devices have a significantly reduced closing force, allowing the door to swing freely, like a normal door. When the fire alarm is activated, as with traditional retainers, the free swing function will deactivate, causing the fire door closer to shut the door.

Geofire Agrippa Free-Swing Door Closer
Geofire Agrippa Free-Swing Door Closer
  • Fixed power size EN 4
  • Door operates without resistance in normal use
  • Adjustable closing speed and latching action
  • Capable of learning the fire alarm sound
  • Wireless installation and programming
  • 12 month manufacturer's warranty
£280.39 ex VAT
£336.47 inc VAT
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GEZE TS4000EFS Free-Swing Door Closer
GEZE TS4000EFS Free-Swing Door Closer
  • Door operates without resistance in normal use
  • Adjustable power size EN 1-6
  • 120 minute fire rating
  • Adjustable closing speed and latching action
  • 12 month manufacturer's warranty
£207.89 ex VAT
£249.47 inc VAT
Buy Now

Heavy fire doors can cause issues for lots of people, particularly those who are less mobile. Installing hold open devices, such as free swing door closers or fire door retainers, helps to improve accessibility. If you are unsure which device is most suitable for your needs, or would like to book a site survey for one of our retaining systems, call our friendly and knowledgeable fire door team at 01507 462 176 or email firedoors@safelincs.co.uk.

How heavy is a fire door?

Standard internal doors in a house usually weigh between 20kg and 50kg. Fire rated doors are often much heavier due to their reinforced construction. An average FD30 (30 minute) fire door weighs around 45kg, while FD60 (60 minute) fire doors can be over 75kg.

Calculate the approximate weight of your fire door.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When Camping or Caravanning

Each year when camping or caravanning there are serious illnesses or even death from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Most of these could have been prevented if the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) had been more widely known and some simple preventative steps taken. In the UK around 50 people die and 200 people are hospitalised, while not all of these people will have been camping, the risks are significantly higher. As the gas is odourless and colourless there is no way to detect if the gas is present. The gas makes you drowsy and can make you unable to respond to other warning signs such as headaches and nausea.

Because tents and caravans are a confined space, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is greater. Therefore, having an audible CO alarm is an essential item to put on your packing list.

The Kidde 7DCO CO Alarm for caravans and motorhomes

Sources of carbon monoxide poisoning when camping or caravanning

Gas or coal fired cooking appliances, such as BBQ’s, are sometimes bought inside tents or caravan awnings to provide warmth or to cook. Which can fill the space up quickly with carbon monoxide gas, a by-product when burning a fossil fuel. The gas then renders the occupants unconscious and death can occur as a result.

Carbon monoxide gas can be produced due to faulty, poorly maintained or improper installation of gas appliances in caravans. It is important to ensure fuel burning appliances fitted by a qualified installer. Solid fuel appliances must be maintained and serviced annually by a reputable, registered engineer.

Carbon monoxide detectors for camping and caravanning

If you have already fitted a CO detector, ensure that you carry out your pre-holiday safety checks. This should include checking or replacing the batteries and testing smoke, heat and CO alarms. It is also advisable to check when your alarms need replacing. Sensors in these types of alarms become less effective over time and will need to be replaced after 10 years.

Not all carbon monoxide alarms are suitable for use in caravans or motorhomes. Choosing a suitable alarm is important because if the CO alarm you have isn’t recommended for use in camping environments, you may not be alerted to dangerous levels of CO gas. Choose an alarm that is:

  • Kitemarked to British Standard BS EN50291-2
  • Certified for use in caravans
  • Suitable for wall mounting
  • Battery operated
  • CE marked

Fire Exit Doors vs Fire Doors

What is the difference between fire doors and fire exits?

A fire door is an internal door, between one room or corridor and another. Certified fire doors of solid timber construction are designed to halt the spread of smoke and flames for a minimum specified length of time. Typically, this is 30 minutes (FD30), when closed. This allows fire doors to compartmentalise the building, so that the fire can be more easily controlled by fire fighters.

A fire exit is a final exit door from a building, meaning that it leads to the outside. These doors are not usually fire rated, as they are not designed to hold back flames and smoke. Fire exit doors are designed to allow quick and unhindered escape through a well-lit door into a place of safety. Often, these doors also prevent unauthorised access from the outside. Fire exit doors should never be obstructed, open easily and, where possible, in the direction of traffic flow.

An open red fire door, leading to an external escape route.
In an emergency, fire exit doors lead building occupants to a place of safety

Do final exit doors need to be fire rated?

Final exit doors, or fire exits, do not usually need to be fire rated, unless the need is identified by the fire risk assessment. Unlike fire door hardware, exit hardware, such as panic bars and push pads, therefore does not need to be fire rated. Nonetheless, exit hardware must be regularly tested and maintained so that it can be effective in an emergency.

Should fire exits have push pads or panic bars?

In environments like an office, where staff are familiar with the layout, it is permissible to install push pads. In buildings which are open to the public, such as cinemas and shops, fire exits doors must be fitted with panic bars. These are easier to operate for someone who is unfamiliar with the environment.

Lock and key door handle for securing fire exit
Fire exit doors which are security doors can be locked to the outside

Can a fire exit be locked?

For security reasons, fire exits can be locked to the outside with an external access device. This can be secured with a traditional lock and key, or a pin pad and code. However, fire exits which serve as emergency exits for the public can never be locked from the inside. Exit hardware (push pads or panic bars) must therefore be fitted to the inside of a fire exit door.

Fire doors to storage rooms, or restricted areas of a building, can be locked. This can be done with access control devices, or a fire rated lock and key system. This hardware must be installed by a qualified professional, to the manufacturer’s requirements. It is the responsibility of key holders to ensure that no one is ever locked in to an area that they cannot freely leave.

Can a fire exit door be left open?

Given that fire exits are not involved in compartmentation, it is not a fire risk to keep open a final exit door to a building. This is why fire exit doors do not have door closers fitted. Fire doors must be kept shut when not in use, so that they can be effective in the event of a fire. This has led to the common misconception that a fire exit door cannot be kept open.

Therefore, assuming it is not a security risk, it is permissible to prop open a fire exit; but never a fire door on an escape route (unless certified fire door retainers are installed).

Sign used to indicate the location of a fire exit door
Signage for fire exit doors is green, and should be well lit

Do fire doors need signage?

Fire doors should have a small blue Fire Door Keep Shut sign fitted on both sides. This informs building users, including staff and the public, that the door plays a role in fire safety, and encourages them to behave accordingly. For the purpose of fire risk assessments, fire door maintenance, and fire escape plans, the fire door’s certification sticker should also be located on its top edge.

Similarly, fire exits should be clearly marked to ensure that occupants of a building can quickly identify an escape route in an emergency. Best practice dictates that fire exit signs are fitted above fire exits. In larger and more complicated buildings, additional signage should be fitted to direct occupants to the nearest fire exit.

For more information about fire doors, fire exits, and the legal requirements, see our help guides. You can also contact our friendly fire door team on 01507 462 176 or by emailing firedoors@safelincs.co.uk.

Fire Safety on Boats

Boat fires have killed 30 boaters in the last 20 years. A fire on board, most of the time, can be preventable. Proper maintenance, regular inspections, and adherence to safety protocols significantly reduce the risk of fire. Ensuring electrical systems are up to date, monitoring fuel systems for leaks, and having fire extinguishers readily accessible can mitigate potential hazards. By prioritising prevention and encouraging awareness, we can work towards eliminating fires and preserving lives on the water.

Carbon Monoxide on Boats

Many people are unaware of the effects, symptoms and dangers of carbon monoxide (CO). Known as The Silent Killer, it is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas which is highly toxic to humans and animals. The only way to detect CO is with an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

CO is generated by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Most commonly associated with appliances such as; boilers, heaters, hobs and generators. Even routine activities like cooking or keeping warm can potentially lead to a build up of this deadly gas. It is important to ensure that all appliances are properly maintained and regularly serviced to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Recognising the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is also vital for staying safe on board. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness and confusion may indicate exposure to elevated levels of carbon monoxide. It’s essential for boat owners and passengers to be aware of these signs and to take immediate action.

Fire Extinguishers for Boat Safety

There are different fire risks on boats so it is essential that you have the correct extinguishers to deal with the different types of fire that may occur. Regular maintenance of all your electrical appliances and engine are important to help prevent potential fire hazards.

Powder fire extinguishers are suitable for an outdoor fire on a boat, such as an engine fire. Engine fires on boats can involve a variety of fuel sources, including gasoline, diesel, oil, making powder extinguishers suitable as they can extinguish a wide range of fire types. However, they are not recommended for indoor use due to reduced visibility. The water mist fire extinguishers would be ideal for an indoor boat fire. Water mist extinguishers are versatile; suitable for use on Class A and B fires as well as fires involving electrical equipment. They leave no residue and are environmentally friendly.

Smoke Alarms for Boat Safety

Smoke alarms detect smoke and sound an alarm to alert people on board of a fire. In a marine environment where fires can spread rapidly and evacuation options may be limited, early detection is critical. Boat owners should ensure that smoke alarms are installed in key areas to make sure a boat fire can be detected as soon as possible. Key areas include sleeping quarters, engine compartments, and galley areas where fire hazards are most prevalent.

Maintenance and testing of smoke alarms is important to ensure proper functionality to get alerted in the event of a fire. It’s recommended to test your alarms monthly, and to clean your alarms regularly as a build-up of dust can impact their performance.

When selecting smoke alarms for your boat, make sure to choose models specifically designed for boats. These are designed to withstand the unique challenges posed by constant exposure to moisture, saltwater, and vibration. It’s also wise to consider the size and layout of your vessel and determine the appropriate number and placement.

House, caravan, campervan and boat travel icons on carbon monoxide alarms
To determine whether your alarms are suitable for travel, look out for the following symbols and certification to (BS) EN 50291-2

Smoke Alarms for Boats

UltraFire ULLS10 – https://www.safelincs.co.uk/ultrafire-ulls10-10-year-longlife-battery-optical-smoke-alarm/
FireAngel 6620 – https://www.safelincs.co.uk/fireangel-fa6620-r-10-year-lithium-optical-smoke-alarm/

Concerns over fire safety for e-bikes and e-scooters

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of electric powered bikes and scooters being purchased. Along with the number of publicly available e-bikes and e-scooters this has created concerns over fire safety. The reports of fires starting has increased, usually when the battery is being charged, raising a number of concerns of the quality of some of the bikes and scooters available to buy.

While in general the benefits are clear; speed of travel (compared to walking), convenience, reduced environmental impact compared to other modes (such as cars) and reduced transport costs. It is likely that in time, privately owned e-scooters would be legal to use on public highways and play a role in future urban transport. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the bike or scooter that you are buying is of good quality.

Things to consider before making a purchase

  • Do your research, look online or in store to see which e-bikes and e-scooters have had good reviews and the ones that haven’t so you can make an informed choice on the best one to buy within your budget.
  • Buy from a reputable retailer for all the components, including battery pack and charger.
  • When purchasing replacements parts, ensure these are purchased from the same manufacturer.
  • Register the product with the manufacturer – to be notified quickly of any safety issues or recalls.
  • Be cautious if buying second-hand, refurbished or converted bikes. It can be hard to establish reliability, whether it is counterfeit or genuine, and whether they meet proper UK standards. Look for CE or UKCA marking.

Tips for safer charging of batteries

  • Do not store or charge batteries in communal areas, especially if they form part of the escape route.
  • If the battery is hot after use, allow it to cool before putting on charge.
  • Do not overcharge the battery – check the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not cover chargers or battery packs when charging as this could lead to overheating and possibly fire.
  • Keep batteries out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not overload sockets or extension leads – ensure the extension lead is suitably rated for what you are using it for.
  • Do not charge batteries overnight or while you are away from home. If a fire should start you will be alert and aware.
  • Regularly check your batteries and chargers, and do not use them if there are any signs of damage; replace them immediately.
  • If you regularly recharge batteries, or have several on charge at once, consider installing a Lithium-Ion Battery Containment Safe, or ask your landlord for one.

Warning signs of danger to look out for

  • Heat – it is normal for batteries to generate some heat when charging or in use. If it feels extremely hot to the touch, stop charging straight away.
  • Bulging or leaks – a common sign of a battery failing is bulging or swelling. If you see this you should stop using it immediately.
  • Noise – failing lithium batteries can sometimes make hissing or cracking sounds.
  • Smell – a strong or unusual smell from the battery could be a sign that it is failing.