We are often asked questions in our Fire Safety Forum about gaps underneath fire doors. Are they allowed and if so, how big can they be? Here we outline the current regulations and solutions.
Why should I worry about the gap under my fire door?
Fire doors need a bit of a gap around them to swing freely above the floor covering. But, if the gap is too wide, it will compromise the door’s effectiveness in preventing fire and smoke from escaping into surrounding areas. The door may not provide the protection that it should if a fire breaks out.
Are gaps allowed under fire doors?
The general advice for fire doors is that a gap of up to 10mm (according to Building Regulation Approved Document F) is permissible underneath the door. This allows for adequate ventilation without compromising the performance of the fire door. If you can, check with your fire door manufacturer as they will be able to give you specific advice for your circumstance (as recommended in the BS 8214:2016 – 9.5.3). If smoke protection is required by Building Regulations, the maximum gap underneath the fire door is reduced to 3mm.
How can I make the gap under my fire door smaller?
Surface mounted drop-down smoke seals or rebated drop-down smoke seals can be fitted to existing fire doors if the gap is too large. Usually suitable for gaps of up to 14mm, they can be attached to the bottom of the door. When the door closes, a plunger makes contact with the door frame and lowers the seal to the floor, closing the gap under the door.
According to the Equality Act 2010, schools and educational premises have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary for anyone with a disability. So, what is a reasonable adjustment? And, what can schools and universities do to improve access for all and meet fire safety requirements in education?
What is a reasonable adjustment?
The Equality Act 2010 tackles disability discrimination in schools and other organisations or businesses across society. It sets out a responsibility to remove barriers experienced by someone who has a disability. Anyone who has a disability should be able to receive the same service as far as possible as someone who is not disabled. What is considered a ‘reasonable’ adjustment will depend on things like the size of the organisation, and the money and resources available. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend the setting.
Reasonable adjustments and fire safety in education
The adjustments you need to make to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety will depend on what is set out in your fire risk assessment. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university.
What examples are there of reasonable adjustments in schools or higher education establishments for fire safety?
A reasonable adjustment can be:
A change to the way things are done such as a change to a rule or policy. For example, this might involve a change to an escape route.
A change to a physical or architectural feature in a building or outside areas. This could include using a fire door retainer on internal fire doors to allow easier access for all or installing visual fire alarm beacons with louder audible sirens for anyone who has a hearing impairment.
Provision of extra services or aids. This could include providing an evacuation aid such as an evacuation chair.
The type of changes and extra aids or services will depend entirely on your circumstances and the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university. Fire safety requirements will be set out in detail in your fire risk assessment and should be implemented.
Fire door retainers and the Equality Act 2010
Fire door retainers such as Dorgard are a cost-effective and easy to install solution for improving access for all in schools and universities. Fire doors are a necessity in many buildings but can be a barrier to anyone with a mobility impairment as they are heavy to operate and difficult to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.
Dorgard is certified and tested to British Standards EN1155:1997 and EN 1634. It is a legal solution for holding open fire doors. This allows easier access for everyone including any disabled users with a mobility impairment. When the fire alarm sounds in your building, Dorgard will release the fire door so that it closes and provides the usual protection. You should never wedge or prop open fire doors using an uncertified device or object. The fire doors will be unable to provide any protection if they are open when a fire starts.
The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For any fire doors purchased from Safelincs, we can offer a certified installation service carried out be qualified fire door installers. Fire doors should be installed correctly to ensure proper compartmentation.
Nationwide service carried out by certified fire door installers
Installation for all fire door sets purchased from Safelincs
Fire door retainers have many benefits. They can help businesses to comply with fire door regulations, providing easy access for everyone and improving ventilation. In larger premises, maintaining a lot of individual fire door retainers could become a headache. Dorgard Pro fire door retainer system provides a solution, allowing central control of all the fire door retainers. It gives peace of mind that should a fire break out anywhere on-site, all the fire doors will automatically close.
How does it work?
The Dorgard Pro core system is made up of a central transmitter (Fireco ProHub) and fire door retainers (Dorgard Pro). The central transmitter can be wired directly into your existing fire alarm panel. Or, if this is not an option, the Fireco ProHub can be acoustically activated. When the ProHub is activated by the fire alarm, it communicates wirelessly to every Dorgard Pro fire door retainer. The wireless signal alerts each Dorgard Pro to release, ensuring that all fire doors close automatically. The status of each Dorgard Pro is monitored by the central transmitter and it will instantly alert you to any faults or low batteries.
Dorgard Pro fire door retainers are installed on existing fire doors throughout your premises. They have a carpet-friendly design and are battery powered by a 5 year ‘fit and forget’ battery. The Dorgard Pro retainers are not affected by high levels of background noise. They allow fire doors to be held open legally at any angle to improve access and ventilation throughout the building.
Flexibility for bespoke configuration
Fireco ProHub can also be linked to the InSite cloud based remote monitoring software. This software gives you the ability to monitor the live status of the system from your mobile phone or laptop, anywhere in the world!
Typically a Fireco Prohub has a range of up to 50m, depending on the type of environment. Fireco ProExtenders can be added to give a greater range for larger buildings. This allows up to 500 Dorgard Pro retainers to be controlled in one system. In addition, should premises be extended, extra units can be added any time after the initial installation to expand the system.
For added flexibility, Freedor Pro can also be added to the system. Freedor Pro is a free swing door closer which takes the weight out of heavy fire doors and can hold doors open at any angle. In the same way as the Dorgard Pro, Freedor Pro can also be centrally controlled by the ProHub.
Is it suitable for my premises?
The Dorgard Pro system is ideal for lots of environments, including schools and universities, hospitals and care homes, manufacturing, offices, hotels and hospitality, retail and public buildings. As it is unaffected by noisy environments and can be centrally controlled, the system is very versatile. Therefore, it lends itself to large sites where monitoring of each individual fire door retainer would be time consuming and difficult to manage.
As the Dorgard Pro system works in conjunction with your existing fire alarm and fire doors, there is no need for additional disruption or equipment. The wireless communication also means that there is very little wiring, if any (depending on how you connect the ProHub to the alarm panel) involved in the installation.
How do I get a quote?
Firstly, to provide you with a quotation, an engineer needs to visit your site to carry out a survey. The survey is free of charge and means we can design a system that is suited to your environment. Next, we will provide a quotation based on your system design.
If you decide to install Dorgard Pro, our team of engineers will come to your site and fit the system. Once it’s up and running, the Dorgard Pro system requires very little maintenance. Safelincs provides an exclusive 7 year extended warranty for added peace of mind.
Book a FREE site survey now!
Get in touch now to book your free site survey or find out more. Call 0800 612 6537 or fill out our short Dorgard Pro booking form to register your interest. After receiving your form, a member of our customer service team will be in touch to arrange the survey.
Fire doors save lives: Flats that open out into communal areas are legally required to have front doors that can withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. If a fire breaks out in one of the flats, the fire door will stop the fire and smoke from spreading to communal areas and corridors, allowing residents to escape the building safely. To ensure they are effective, as the responsible person, you also have a legal responsibility to make sure all fire doors are in good working order and that fire door regulations are followed in your building.
Is fire door compliance at risk due to the behaviour of residents?
Keeping fire doors closed: It goes without saying that a fire door will only do its job to contain a fire and smoke if it is closed. Fire doors should always be fitted with a door closer to ensure that the door automatically closes whenever it is used. Resident’s behaviour and a lack of understanding of the function and importance of fire doors can mean that in practice the effectiveness of fire doors is in jeopardy.
Fire doors, due to their heavy construction and their door closer, may pose a particular problem for disabled residents, those with impaired mobility or elderly people. In these circumstances, fire doors can seem impractical and a barrier to free movement. Where fire doors have been fitted as an entrance door to a flat a tenant may therefore try to find a solution that will enable them to open their flat entrance door with more ease. Common misuse of fire doors in this way involves doors being wedged or propped open for convenience, or fire door closers being disengaged.
However inconvenient or impractical, without effective fire doors in all parts of the building, everyone’s fire safety is compromised and as the responsible person you may be liable for prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Educating residents of the importance of keeping fire doors shut can be a real challenge. Especially if tenants change frequently. Displaying information in communal areas and ensuring that tenants have been made aware of fire safety procedures can be helpful but even with this awareness you can not be certain that residents will not tamper with the automatic closing action of a fire door.
How can fire doors be legally held open without compromising their effectiveness in a fire?
Install free-swing door closers such as the Freedor Smartsound Door Closer.This clever device allows the fire door to swing freely as a normal door would. But, when it ‘hears’ the fire alarm sound, it functions as a normal door closer and closes the door automatically. The Freedor SmartSound can also be used to fix or ‘retain’ the door in an open position, releasing it when the alarm sounds. The Freedor is easy to install on existing doors and as it is battery operated it requires no wiring by an electrician.
In communal areas Dorgard Fire Door Retainers are an effective solution. The retainer will hold the door open in a fixed position, giving easy access in corridors or shared spaces. It will release the fire door when it hears the fire alarm. It is a legal solution for your access problems without compromising fire safety.
What else can be done to ensure fire door regulations are being met?
Carry out quick visual checks and ensure that your fire doors are inspected by a trained person on a regular basis. Visually checking the fire doors in your building on a regular basis could highlight any issues at the earliest opportunity. You should look out for the following things:
Is the automatic overhead door closer or free-swing door closer in good working order? Automatic door closers should close the door shut when released.
Are the fire seals around the door free from damage and securely fitted? Fire seals or intumescent strips should sit snuggly in the door frame or in a groove around the edges of the door. They expand during a fire to stop flames and smoke spreading through the gaps. They are a legal requirement for the front door of any flat that leads to a communal area.
Does the fire door close properly? The door should fit well into the frame with no large gaps and should close fully. Using a Fire Door Gap Gauge will help to effectively measure any gaps and ensure they are within the required limits.
Safelincs offers an in-depth inspection of your fire doors. Our BRE certified inspectors ensure all fire doors throughout your building remain fit for purpose and will make recommendations of any further action that should be taken. Any further necessary remedial work on the fire doors can be carried out by our certified engineers if required.
Fire doors are given ratings which relate to the length of time the doors will give protection against a fire breaking through the door. Typial ratings for fire doors look like this: FD30, FD30s, etc. FD stands for fire door, and the number stands for the minutes of protection the door is certified for, in this instance 30 minutes protection. The ‘s’ after the number rating indicates that the fire door has not only intumescent fire door seals but also brushes to prevent the spread of cold smoke.
Fire doors form an essential part of your fire protection plan, slowing down and compartmentalising a fire. As such, you must get the right fire door in the right place; after all, it could save lives.
Linkage Community Trust is a registered charity supporting people with learning difficulties and disabilities. The aim of the charity’s Care Service is to support and enable residents to live as independently as possible. For some residents moving around the home can be difficult as heavy fire doors pose a barrier to some disabled residents, restricting where they can go unaided, which in turn reduces their independence. ‘Some of our residents have physical limitations which makes opening the fire doors without assistance really difficult and in some cases, impossible’ said Sophie Tuplin from Linkage Community Trust . This can lead to reduced self-esteeem of residents who would otherwise be independently mobile. Linkage Community Trust needed to find a way to keep the fire doors open, whilst ensuring safety of residents in the event of a fire and also ensuring that they adhere to legislation. Safelincs have worked with Linkage Community Trust to overcome this problem, with Geofire Agrippa Acoustic Fire Door Holders being installed in some of their properties. Fitted to either the top or the bottom of the fire door Agrippa Acoustic Fire Door Holders will hold your fire door open; on sounding of the fire alarm the Agrippa will be activated, releasing the fire door and enabling it to close maintaining safety and preventing the spread of fire.
Sophie Tuplin commented ‘The Agrippa Door Holders are great, they help us balance our responsibilities to keep people safe with our mission to enable individuals to become more confident and live more independently’. Installing the fire door holders has enabled residents to be able to move freely within the home, whilst ensuring that legal obligations, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, for fire safety of the residents and staff are met.
To answer this regularly asked question, one of Safelincs’ fire door assessors has created a short fire door help guide: do I need FD30 or FD60 fire doors? It lists the main legal frameworks relating to fire doors and offers an easy-to-understand overview of applications for FD30 and FD60 fire doors.
If you have very specific questions relating to fire doors, you can also discuss these on our fire safety forum where fire safety experts will answer your questions.
Safelincs also offers fire door assessments as well as the manufacture of standard and made-to-measure internal fire doors. We pride ourselves to be able to supply you with everything from information and advice to complete fire doors and all required fire door hardware.
If you would like to speak to our friendly fire door team, please ring 0800 612 4837
When East Coast Grafix, a printing company based in Lincolnshire, were replacing some of their fire doors they saw the ideal opportunity to look at how they could improve the movement of their staff within the building.
The main problem the company faced was passing through fire doors when carrying stock from one work area to another. The pull of the normal fire door closers made it difficult to move around the premises. Safelincs’ Agrippa Acoustic Free-Swing door closer gave East Coast Grafix the solution they were looking for. Chris Ashmore from East Coast Grafix said “This product is brilliant.” He went on to say “This is ideal for us as when carrying stacks of paper, the last thing you want is to have to open a spring loaded door and then it trying to close on you.” Staff at East Coast Grafix can now leave the door open at any angle, the fire door now feels and behaves like any other door.
The Agrippa not only gave Chris Ashmore a solution to his problem, it also ensures that he is meeting his legal obligations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Agrippa is a battery operated unit that can learn the specific sound of your fire alarm. When there is no alarm the door closer is dormant, causing no resistance to the user. On hearing your fire alarm the closer will activate, automatically closing the fire door, reducing the risk of a fire spreading and protecting the lives of the occupants and the premises. Agrippa Free-Swing door closers are CE Marked and approved to EN 1155 and EN 1154, they are also suitable for installations needing to comply with BS 7BS 7273-4.
Residents at the Westwood Care Home have given the Agrippa free-swing fire door closers their approval, as they provide the option to have their fire doors partially open leaving them feeling less shut off from the rest of the home, whilst retaining some privacy. The Agrippa door closer allows a fire door to be used just like a normal door without the resistance usually associated with fire door closers. However, the moment the closer ‘hears’ a fire alarm, it changes its operating mode and turns into a traditional door closer, closing the fire door to stop the spread of fire and smoke.
Based in an Edwardian Town House in Chorley, Westwood Residential Care Home has chosen to have the wire-free fire door closers installed onto resident’s doors.
Stephanie Crane, Director at Westwood said: “We were searching for an alternative solution to our existing door holders as they were damaging the carpets in the home. The residents at the care home needed a solution to make their doors light and easy to move, whilst closing in the event of a fire.”
Westwood offers a personalised 24-hour quality care service for up to twenty people over the age of 65, delivered by a highly-trained and well experienced team of staff.
The Agrippa fire door closer is a battery powered device providing a safe and legal solution to holding open and closing fire doors. The door closer is discreetly installed at the top of the fire door providing restriction-free movement to make the door light and easy to move.
The closer complies with the Building Regulations Approved Document M Section 3.10 Parts K & L, which state that fire doors should self-close when activated by the fire alarm, when the power supply fails or by a hand-operated switch.