10 Things You Should Know About Fire Doors

Your Fire Door Questions Answered

Most of us will come into contact with fire doors in our daily life, either at home, at work or in public buildings. But how much do you know about fire doors and their role in saving lives? We’ve compiled a list of key fire door questions based on what customers ask our experts in our fire safety forum.

Fire doors stop fire and smoke from spreading to other parts of the building

1. Why are fire doors so important?

Fire doors are important because they keep fire or smoke in the room or ‘compartment’ in which it started. They stop it from spreading to other areas of the building. Fire doors are an integral part of any building’s passive fire protection system.

2. What do fire doors do?

Fire doors save lives and prevent further damage to the building and its contents:

  • They contain the fire in the room in which it started
  • Fire doors keep escape routes, such as corridors, clear from fire, giving occupants of the building longer to escape and better access for the fire service
  • They protect the remainder of the building, its contents and other buildings nearby from further damage.

3. How do fire doors work?

Fire doors prevent the spread of fire for a specified time. They are constructed from materials that will withstand fire for either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, depending on the fire door rating. Fire doors are fitted with intumescent strips in a groove on every edge of the door or fire door frame. When a fire breaks out, the heat causes the intumescent strips to expand to fill the gap between the fire door and the frame. This seals the room and stops the spread of fire for a given time. A fire door will only work if it is closed when the fire breaks out, so you should always ensure that your fire door is fitted with an automatic door closer and a sign that identifies the door as a fire door.

Key facts about fire doors

4. How are fire doors made?

Fire doors are usually thicker than a standard door and most have a solid core of variable material. The construction of fire doors varies depending on the manufacture. But, the critical part is that it is tested and certified to withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. Manufacturers must have the design of their fire doors and frames tested together as a set at an approved fire door testing centre. Then they must be considered for certification. When certification is approved, every fire door set constructed to the same design specifications by that manufacturer will be fixed with a label. The label identifies the manufacturer, date of manufacture and fire rating. This label can usually be found on the top edge of the door.

fire door certification labelfire door cross section detail

5. How long do fire doors last?

Fire doors and their frames are usually tested to hold back fire for 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60). Their ability to withstand fire is dependent on them being properly installed with the correct seals and fire rated hardware including fire door closers. The condition of a fire door, especially one that’s in regular use could deteriorate over time. Check your fire doors regularly and ensure any fire door maintenance is attended to promptly. Fire door inspections can help to identify non-compliant fire doors. Fire doors can have a rating greater than 60 minutes but these are not required in most situations.

6. Are fire doors a legal requirement?

Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises, and public buildings. They are also required in residential flats and houses of multiple occupancy. As set out by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, building operators in England and Wales should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to manage their fire safety precautions. Their legal responsibilities include a duty to reduce the risk of fire spreading within the premises. Fire doors play an important part in reducing this risk in many buildings. These types of buildings should have a fire risk assessment carried out. Fire risk assessments are an in-depth review of the premises. They will highlight any fire risks with recommendations to reduce or eliminate these risks, including where fire doors should be used and what rating they should be.

Fire doors in schools

7. Do I need fire doors in my house or flat?

Fire rated doors can be a great way to add extra protection against fire in your home. But are they a legal requirement?

Houses and bungalows: In many homes in the UK fire doors are not a legal requirement, however there are some exceptions. Building regulations details where fire doors should be used:

  • Any new build or home renovation that has three or more floors must have fire doors fitted to every habitable room that leads from a stairwell. This applies to loft conversions where an extra floor has been added to a two-storey home.
  • Any door leading from your home into an integral garage must be a fire door. In most domestic situations, FD30 (fire doors with a 30 minute fire rating) are sufficient.

Flats and HMOs: Your block of flats should have had a fire risk assessment carried out. This will detail which doors are required to be fire doors. Building regulations Approved Document B2 sets out the following standards:

  • Every flat within a block of flats or HMO should have a fire door fitted at the entrance onto the communal area.
  • Flats located on floors 4.5m above ground level must have a fire rated door fitted between all habitable rooms as well as the front door.
  • Ground floor flats do not usually need internal fire doors as long as each room has an accessible way to escape. They do still need a fire door to be fitted at the entrance if the front door opens onto a communal area such as a corridor.

FD30 fire doors (30 minute fire door rating) should be used for flats.

fire door in flat or house

8. Can fire doors be painted?

Although fire doors must be fitted with fire rated hinges, locks and hardware, they do not need a special type of paint. You can paint fire doors using regular decorative paint or varnish without damaging their performance. Avoid using heat or chemical paint strippers if the intumescent seals are in place. Also avoid painting over any hinges, hardware or seals.

There is no need to compromise on style and decoration with fire doors. Choose from a wide range of glazing and finishing options including real wood veneer, Formica laminate or paint. Our fire doors can even be pre-painted in any RAL colour of your choice, saving time and hassle and giving a professional finish.

Fire door finishesFire door wood veneer

9. Can fire doors be left open?

Fire doors can only be left open if they are held open in a legal way, such as with a fire door retainer or a hold open free-swing door closer.

It is dangerous to ‘prop’ or ‘wedge’ open fire doors. Fire doors are fitted with self-closing devices so that if a fire breaks out, they close and will perform as intended. If a fire door is wedged open, it will not slow or stop the spread of fire. Using a fire door retainer or free-swing door closer will ensure that in the event of a fire the fire door will still automatically close, ensuring fire safety is maintained.

Fire doors can be heavy and cumbersome to operate. They can also cause accessibility issues in some buildings. Fire door retainers, like Dorgard, are a practical and legal solution to this issue. A Dorgard Fire Door Retainer can easily be fitted to an existing fire door and will hold the fire door open legally until it ‘hears’ the sound of your fire alarm. When the alarm sounds, Dorgard will release the fire door, allowing it to close, stopping the spread of fire. Fire door retainers can also help to improve ventilation.

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
£81.79 ex VAT
£98.15 inc VAT
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10. Who can fit fire doors?

Fire doors must be fitted by a competent individual. You should ensure that the person fitting your fire doors has had the relevant training to do so. Whatever the rating of a fire door, if it is badly fitted, it may not withstand a fire for any more than 5 minutes. There are legal requirements and specifications as set out by building regulations governing the installation of fire doors. The gap between the fire door and frame, for example, should be between 2 and 4mm. These specifications can be difficult to meet unless installation is by someone with experience and joinery skills.

The regulations around the fitting of fire doors can be confusing. Code of Practice for Fire Door Assemblies does not specify that any particular certification is required to install a fire door. However, The Fire Safety Order states that they should be installed by a competent person. That is someone with sufficient training and experience, qualifications, and knowledge.

Using a professional fire door installer will give a Responsible Person or homeowner peace of mind that the fitting has been carried out correctly and that the fire door will perform as it should in the event of a fire.

Fire Door Installation
Fire Door Installation
  • Certified fire door installers
  • Nationwide service
  • High standard installations
  • Fire door and frame installation
  • Experienced and knowledgeable installers
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£418.80 inc VAT
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Ask a Question

Still have fire door questions? Ask an expert on our forum.

Mel Saunders

Marketing Designer

Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.

Freedor free swing door closers – a case study

Freedor Free-Swing Door CloserFirefighters were recently called to tackle a blaze at Charlton House residential care home in Plymouth. The fire was promptly dealt with by two fire appliances whose job was made easier by the fact the fire had been contained to one room. The bedrooms of the home had Freedor free swing fire door closers fitted, which closed automatically as soon as the fire broke out.

Taylia Cryan, the Manager at Charlton House commented “The fire was a frightening experience, but thankfully we had the correct measures in place so damage to the home was minimal, no one was hurt and no one had to move out. It was great to see my staff do what I had trained them to do and all the equipment we have installed work perfectly. We use Freedor as the residents couldn’t cope with the heavy doors but I hadn’t realised how important they were until the day of the fire.”

Representing our supplier, Tom Welland, Compliance Manager at Fireco says “This fire is a great example of risk assessment in action. You can reduce the risk of fire by having great precautions and well trained staff but unfortunately you cannot remove the risk entirely. Accidents happen but processes don’t, the home had put effort into ensuring that when the time came the staff and equipment did what was required of them. This meant the difference between losing a room and no casualties to losing an entire home, a business and injuries. We put the same amount of effort into making our products so people can rely on us. Had the fire doors been wedged open the outcome could have been catastrophic.”

Freedor is a unique free swing device that is fitted to the top of fire doors, which allows users to hold their fire doors open at any angle. Freedor listens out for a fire alarm and once the alarm is sounding, Freedor closes the door, preventing the spread of fire and smoke throughout the building. Freedor enables greater ease of access as it does not create the resistance of normal door closers and can be used in any setting such as nursing homes, offices, schools and restaurants. Freedors are easy to retrofit, as they do not require any wiring.

Making sure businesses are ready to face a fire is vital. Charlton House had the appropriate training and had put in place the right equipment which made a huge difference and potentially saved lives and jobs.

For further information visit our Freedor page or ring 0800 612 6537 and we will be happy to help. The installation of the Freedor is included in our pricing.

Fire Door Closers – How to Improve Ease of Movement Within Care Homes

Freedor Fire Door CloserFor those confined to care homes, moving freely within the immediate environment is essential for their well-being and self-esteem. However, fire regulations require that fire doors, such as those installed in gangways and often in bedrooms, are kept closed to prevent the spread of smoke and flames in the event of a fire. The hydraulic door closers, usually installed for this purpose, make the fire doors difficult to open for the elderly and those who require walking aids. Installing a normal fire door retainer to hold the fire door open against the pressure of a traditional door closer does not fully address this problem, as it still requires the fire door to be opened in the first place before it can be retained in the open position.

This is where Free-Swing Fire Door Closers would be more suitable. They allow the user to open and close the fire door like any other door – without any resistance. The door can also be left open in any desired position. If the fire alarm goes off the fire door will, of course, close and the occupants of the building are protected against the spread of fire and smoke.

Some of Safelincs’ Free-Swing Door Closers require wiring into the fire alarm panel to send a signal to the closer to ensure the door is closed when a fire is detected. Our Freedor Free-Swing Door Closer on the other hand, does not require any wiring at all. Similar to the well known Dorgard, manufactured by the same UK company, the Freedor ‘listens’ for the sound of an alarm system and will close the fire door as soon as the acoustic signal is received. The Freedor unit is battery powered and is also suitable for retro-fitting on existing fire doors.

Harry Dewick-Eisele, Managing Director at Safelincs, explains “The Freedor overcomes the need to install a door closer as well as a retainer. It is fitted in the same position as a traditional fire door closer and deals with the entire issue of the safe opening and closing of fire doors. It is a huge improvement for care homes but also children centres and other public spaces where traditional door closers can lead to difficulties for users.”

If you require any further information call 0800 612 6537 where our Customer Service Team are available to answer any questions you may have.

Fire Door Safety Week – 16 -21 September

Fire doors save lives and property. Fire Door Safety Week is all about raising awareness of this critical element of fire safety in every commercial, public and multiple occupancy building. The British Woodworking Federation, with a number of industry partners has created Fire Door Safety Week to:

raise awareness of the critical role of fire doors, drawing attention to specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance.

  • encourage building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their fire doors and to report those that aren’t satisfactory.
  • engage and educate people, helping with the whole building industry and every property owner to understand the correct specification, supply, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors.

Safelincs supports this campaign and offers information about fire doors. Safelincs also offers a range of standard (FD30 – 30 minute) fire doors which are available in the most common sizes, styles and colours including 4 panel, 6 panel and glazed with a variety of shapes of pane.

In addition we can supply custom built fire doors to your particular specification. Our simple online system allows you to easily configure and order a custom FD30 fire door within minutes. You can choose it with or without frame with your specified features including veneer, design and glazing options.

All standard fire doors have a delivery lead time of 7-10 working days from the date of order. Customised made-to measure doors have a delivery lead time of 1-3 weeks.

Safelincs also provide a range of associated products including fire door closers, fire door seals and hinges.

It is illegal to wedge open fire doors but with Dorgard it is possible to hold fire doors open legally to make access to rooms easier. These fire door retainers will hold a door open but immediately a smoke alarm sounds the sonic waves trigger the release mechanism allowing the door to close.

The Importance of Fire Door Closers

Fire safety equipment is essential for homes and businesses alike to first detect the fire and then to safely evacuate the building and minimise the damage caused by the fire. The best known fire safety products are familiar pieces of equipment such as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, however, fire doors also play an important role in stopping the spread of fire. When closed, fire doors will stop the spread of smoke and flames for a significant amount of time (usually 30 minutes), helping people inside the building to evacuate safely.

In order for fire doors to function properly, they should remain closed when the door is not in use. As obvious as this sounds, in a busy office building it can be difficult to ensure that fire doors are being closed. Therefore automatic fire door closers are installed to ensure that, after a door is opened, it naturally returns to a closed position where it can offer the maximum fire safety.

Door closers work by using the energy built-up when opening the door, to close it. There are a number of different types of fire door closers, some of which are even concealed within the doors themselves. Some also have additional features that can enable the doors to be held safely in an open position to allow easier access for people with disabilities. This is particularly useful in buildings where there is a lot of foot traffic. In the case of a fire, the fire alarm will trigger these hold-open devices and allow the door closer to close the door.

Fire door closers are selected by closing strength which relates to the weight of the door. Door closers on fire doors, must have a minimum power size of EN3. The configuration of the door closers will also depend on the design of the door (inward/outward closing) etc. If in doubt contact our friendly customer support line.

Retrofitting or Replacing Fire Door Seals

Following a fire risk assessment, doors are sometimes re-designated as fire doors if the door and frame are substantial enough to be justifiably counted as a nominal fire door. The same applies to older fire doors which do not follow the latest specifications. In these cases, fire door seals are retrofitted, and to avoid having to cut a rebate in either the door or the frame, surface mounted fire door seals can be fitted. These are stuck to the frame or door with their self-adhesive backing and sometimes nailed as well to give them increased longevity.

Where a fire door rebate already exists, or the existing rebated fire door seal has been damaged, rebated intumescent fire door seals can be fitted.

We offer a range of fire door seals: fire only, or combined fire and smoke. Both variants contain intumescent material that swells if a fire breaks out to seal the gap around the fire door. Seals that cover smoke also contain a brush-type smoke seal to stop smoke travelling through the gap before the intumescent material expands. There are some applications where a gap should not have smoke seals: e.g. if the fire door has been installed on the exit of a room which has no smoke detectors on its own. In this case, the fire alarm system can only be triggered if smoke can leak out around the fire door and set off the fire alarm system in the circulation spaces, but these cases are quite rare.

Fire door seals are fitted on three sides of a fire door with the gap underneath the door not being covered, though there are products available to prevent smoke from escaping under doors if necessary.

If new fire door seals are fitted for the first time, make sure that fire door hinges, fire door closers and, where necessary, intumescent door lock protection are fitted as well.