Intumescent Strips for Fire Doors

What are intumescent strips?

Intumescent strips are fitted to the edges of fire doors. In in extreme heat, these strips expand to seal the gaps between the door leaf and its frame. This allows closed fire doors to act as a barrier to the spread of smoke and flames throughout a building. Therefore, it is essential that fire doors are installed, maintained with their seals intact. They must also be kept shut when not in use.

Intumescent strip fitted to fire door
Intumescent seal on a fire door

Smoke seal vs intumescent strip

‘Intumescent strips’ are embedded in the door, and are dormant under normal conditions. These strips respond to heat, causing them to expand greatly in the event of a fire. This closes the gap between the door and its frame. These seals activate at temperatures that are above human survival levels. Therefore, there is no danger of them expanding and trapping people trying to escape.

A ‘brush’ seal or smoke seal will prevent the escape of cold smoke around the edges of the fire door. While these seals are also intumescent, smoke inhalation can be more dangerous than the fire itself. It is important, when fitting smoke seals, that they do not hinder the full and effective closure of the door.

Do all fire doors need intumescent strips and smoke seals?        

In order to be effective, all fire doors must be fitted with intumescent strips. Without these, the door will not ‘seal’ to the frame in the event of a fire. These seals are essential to slow the spread of the fire throughout the building, providing occupants time to evacuate. If intumescent strips are found not to have been fitted in the event of a fire, the Responsible Person could be prosecuted.

Smoke seals, however, are required as specified in the fire risk assessment. Most commonly this is included on doors approaching escape routes and doors which open on to a common space.

White fire door in a corridor leading onto stairwell
All fire doors must have intumescent strips fitted

Why fit intumescent strips and smoke seals?

Intumescent seals only react to extreme heat, so they don’t seal up until the fire is very close. Before this, smoke from the fire which has accumulated will be able to pass through the gaps around the door. This puts building occupants in danger of smoke inhalation, which can be fatal. Smoke seals prevent this, and are typically either a soft brush or a plastic / rubber flap.

When should smoke seals not be fitted?

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 ratings and smoke

Fire doors are rated in accordance with the length of time they will resist a fire. Therefore, a door rated ‘FD30’ will resist the passage of fire for 30 minutes, an ‘FD60’ for 60 minutes. If a fire door is rated FD30s, (‘s’ meaning ‘smoke’), it should have been fitted with the appropriate seal to resist the passage of cold smoke for 30 minutes as well. For more information about how fire doors are rated, visit our blog.

Fire door gaps and smoke seals

British Standards set out details on the permitted gaps around a fire door. The gap along the sides, top, and between the leaves of a double door, must be between 2mm and 4mm. Responsible Persons can use a gap gauge to ensure that their fire door gaps are compliant.

Under-door (threshold) gaps should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the particular doorset design. This blog provides more information about threshold gaps.

Gap gauge being used to check the gap size around a fire door
Intumescent seals can only be effective with the correct gap size between the door and frame

Can smoke seals be painted?

Fire doors can be painted with ordinary paint. However, fire accessories, including intumescent seals should not be painted, as it can prevent them from being effective in the event of a fire.

Are intumescent strips required in letter boxes?

If a fire door has a letter box installed, this must have been tested and rated to the same standards as the door itself.

If an intumescent letter box needs to be added to a fire door retrospectively, this can only be done if specified in the scope of the fire door’s Certifire Approval documents, and in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Further to this, alterations can only be made by a trained professional, and with certified hardware. This ensures that the performance of the door, and its associated certification, is not compromised.

What does the threshold drop seal do?  

If smoke protection is required by Building Regulations or the fire risk assessment, the maximum gap underneath the fire door is reduced to 4mm. If the gap under a fire door is too large, surface mounted drop-down smoke seals or rebated drop-down smoke seals can be fitted to existing fire doors. 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. This is usually a suitable solution for gaps of up to 14mm.

Can fire door seals be replaced?

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.

Can fire door seals be fitted retrospectively?

Some older fire doors do not comply with the latest specifications. In some cases, this means that they do not have the appropriate intumescent or smoke seals. Fire door seals can be retrospectively added to these fire doors.

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.

Rebated intumescent seal being replaced in a door frame by a qualified professional
Replace intumescent seals if they are damaged

Who can fit fire door seals?

Fire doors should always be professionally installed, as should any work which structurally alters the door or its hardware. Therefore, rebated fire door seals can only be fitted by a qualified professional, whether as a replacement or retrofit.

Surface mounted fire door seals, on the other hand, can be fitted by a ‘Competent Person’. 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.

Visit our website to see Safelincs’ full range of fire door seals. This includes ‘fire only’ (intumescent) and ‘fire and smoke’ (intumescent and brush) fire door seals. Safelincs supply both rebated and surface-mounted application, in both FD30 and FD60 ratings. If you are still unsure what type of seal your door requires, or whether a retrofit is appropriate for your door, contact our friendly fire door team on 0800 612 4837 or by emailing  firedoors@safelincs.co.uk.

FAQ

Can fire door seals be fitted to the door instead of the frame?

Yes, fire door seals can be fitted to either the door or the frame for a single fire door.

Double doors or door and a half fire doors will need to have fire door seals fitted to the door to ensure that the gap between each leaf is taken into consideration.

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
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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.

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.

Reasonable Adjustments in Schools

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 in schools? 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

According to current fire safety regulations, it is the duty of the Responsible Person for the building to provide a fire safety risk assessment that considers the needs of all of its users. It should contain an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be on the educational premises. This includes anyone who is disabled or has additional needs. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) also supports these regulations.

Evacuation chairs are a reasonable adjustment
An EVAC+CHAIR can be used to safely evacuate anyone with a permanent or temporary mobility impairment in an emergency

The reasonable adjustments in schools need to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety, and depends 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.

fire doors in education
Fire door retainers can improve access for anyone with a mobility impairment

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.

Fire door retainers can be a reasonable adjustment
Dorgard Fire Door Retainers are widely used in education

The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.

“The Dorgard offers a low energy automatic door solution that proved to be the most cost-effective way of improving access and independence for wheelchair users.”

University of London’s College Hall

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Gaps Underneath Fire Doors

What is the maximum gap allowed under a fire door?

The maximum gap allowed under a fire door is usually 10mm. However, this is not always the case. It is essential to consult the manufacturer’s guidance for the specific type of door that has been installed.

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. However, if the gap is too wide, the fire door’s effectiveness will be compromised. In that case, the door may not provide the protection that it should if a fire breaks out.

All Responsible Persons for fire safety have a legal obligation to maintain their fire doors in accordance with its certification. There is new legislation for the maintenance of fire doors in residential flats. As a result of this legislation, thorough fire door checks must be caried out every three months in properties over 11 meters high, or containing two or more separate dwellings. Consequently, if fire doors are found to be non-compliant, and there are no plans in place for repair or replacement, the Responsible Person could be prosecuted.

Are gaps allowed under fire doors?

Yes, fire doors should have gaps underneath them to allow free movement and ventilation. The allowance for the size of this gap varies between manufactures and must fall within the specified range for that door. Therefore, as recommended in BS 8214:2016 – 9.5.3, you should check requirements with your fire door manufacturer. This is the only way to ensure that every door on your premises is complaint. The door manufacturer should be able to give you specific advice for your circumstance.

If smoke protection is required by Building Regulations, the maximum gap underneath the fire door is reduced to 3mm.

How to fix fire door gaps

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.


Surface Mounted Drop-Down Smoke Seal

Need further advice?

Gaps underneath fire doors aren’t the only place where compliance issues can arise. To carry out a full fire door check, why not use our free fire door inspection checklist? If you find that your door is unsuitable and needs to be replaced, you can view our range of standard and bespoke fire doors, or contact our friendly and knowledgeable fire door team at 01507 462 176 or email firedoors@safelincs.co.uk.

If you would like further advice or information about your fire doors, read our Fire Door FAQs or fire door guide.

Educating residents on the importance of fire door regulations for flats

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which was implemented on 23rd January 2023 sets out new fire door responsibilities for Responsible Persons of multi-occupied residential buildings. Part of these new responsibilities involves inspecting flat entrance doors and educating residents about the importance of fire doors. We explore these new fire door regulations for flats and give guidance about implementation and what is expected from the Responsible Person.

What are the new fire door regulations for flats?

From January 2023, the following fire door regulations apply to any residential building with more than 2 dwellings:

  • Residents should be provided with information about the importance of fire doors to ensure that they are being used correctly. Distributing our free Residents Fire Door Fact Sheet among your tenants could save lives.
  • Regularly inspect all fire doors (as specified by your fire risk assessment) and record evidence of the inspections. This free fire door inspection checklist can be downloaded and used as a template to record inspections. Using a Fire Door Gap Gauge will help to effectively measure gaps around the sides and top of fire doors to ensure they are within the required limits.

These additional regulations apply to buildings over 11 metres in height:

  • Every 3 months, the Responsible Person must check all fire doors in communal areas of the building.
  • Annually, the Responsible Person should make ‘best endeavour’ checks on every flat entrance door within the building.

What is a ‘best endeavour’ check for flat entrance doors?

Under these new fire door regulations, checks on flat entrance doors must be carried out once a year. The Responsible Person must therefore make a ‘best endeavour’ to gain consent from the tenant to enter the property. This is essential for Responsible Persons to be able to carry out their legal duty to check fire doors.

Permission to access flats must be sought in advance of the intended inspection, with at least 24 hours’ notice. This should be requested multiple times. If residents are unresponsive, supplement with educational material on the importance of fire doors and new legislation to encourage cooperation. Make contact in writing, either via email or dated written letter, to keep a record of ‘best endeavour’ attempts to inspect flat front doors.

The importance of fire doors in flats

Example of Fire Door Keep Shut sign

Fire doors save lives: Flats that open out into communal areas are legally required to have FD30 ratings. This means that they can withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. If a fire starts in one flat, the fire door will stop flames and smoke from spreading to communal areas and corridors. This provides enough time to for residents to escape the building safely. The responsible person has a legal responsibility to make sure all fire doors are in good working order. They must also ensure that that fire door regulations are followed at all times in the building.

Keeping fire doors closed: A fire door can only 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 after use. If residents prop open fire doors for any reason, the door will not work. This means that the building’s safety will be put in jeopardy.

Educating residents on the importance of fire doors

Information about the importance of fire doors must be available in communal areas. Ensuring residents are aware of the importance of keeping fire doors shut can be challenging, especially if tenants change frequently. Displaying information in communal areas can encourage tenants to work together to keep the building safe. Ensure that new tenants have been made aware of fire safety procedures when they receive they keys, as it provides an opportunity to ask questions.

Are door closers required on flat doors?

Door closers are required on flat doors to ensure that they are shut when not in use. If door closers are not installed, or have been removed or deactivated, the door may be open in a fire. This will allow smoke and flames to spread throughout the building.

Disengaged fire door closer
Fire doors cannot effectively prevent the spread of smoke and flames if they are not properly maintained

Residents and fire door accessibility issues

Due to their heavy construction and required door closer, fire doors may pose accessibility problems. This can affect disabled residents, those with impaired mobility, older people, or those with young children. In these circumstances, fire doors can seem impractical and a barrier to free movement. Where flat entrance doors are fire doors, tenants may try to find a solution to help them it more easily. Common misuse in this way involves doors being wedged or propped open for convenience, or fire door closers being disengaged.

Fire door propped open

Without effective fire doors in all parts of the building, everyone’s fire safety is compromised. Further to this, the Responsible Person may be liable for prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Retaining fire doors in residential blocks

There are a number of solutions available that allow fire doors in residential buildings to be held open safely in normal day-to-day use, but will close the fire door when the fire alarm sounds. In BS 7273-4: 2015 Critical (Category A) areas, such as stair wells, it is paramount that fire doors are maintained and effective at all times to slow the spread of smoke and flames throughout the building.

Fireco’s Pro Fire Door Retainer System is one example to enable fire doors to be safely and legally held open, without compromising their effectiveness in a fire, even in Category A areas. This system can be configured with any proportion of Dorgard Pro or Freeswing Pro units to suit the needs of the building, with up to 500 devices in one system. Fire door retention improves ventilation and ease of movement within a building, which reduces temptation for residents to illegally hold them open.

This wireless fire door retainer system is operated by a control hub, which is wired directly into the building’s fire alarm system. During a fire, the fire alarm is activated, and the hub signals every device in its system to release the fire doors, causing them to close. The optional InSite Site Manager cloud remote management system gives you the ability to check the system status, including the status of each individual component, from anywhere.

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

What is the difference between FD30 and FD60 fire doors?

FD30 Fire doos
FD30 Fire Door

Fire doors are essential for every building, preventing the spread of smoke and flames in the event of a fire. By holding back fire and smoke, fire doors provide time for building occupants to evacuate. This time also limits damage to other areas of the building. In the event of a fire, more time to escape reduces the risk of fatalities – Fire doors are given a rating (for example FD30 or FD60) which determines the length of time the fire door will hold back fire and smoke.

It is essential to install the right type of doors, based upon the findings of the fire risk assessment. It is a legal requirement to meet minimum standards of fire safety; doing so protects lives and property in the event of a fire.

What does an FD30 rating mean?

An FD30 rating means the fire door has been tested in controlled conditions, and is shown to effectively prevent the spread of smoke and flames for at least 30 minutes. Similarly, an FD60 fire door will effectively prevent the spread of smoke and flames for at least an hour. FD ratings of up to 240 are available for high-risk environments, providing four hours of protection.

Hourglass timer, showing the passing of time
Fire door ratings show how long the door will hold back fire and smoke

Is FD60 better than FD30?

FD60 fire doors can prevent the spread of smoke and flames for twice as long as FD30 fire doors. This allows them to protect life and property for more time. Whether this higher level of protection is required, however, will depend upon the findings of the building’s fire risk assessment (FRA). This considers a range of factors, including the configuration of the property, its use, and its occupants.

The fire door requirements for every building will depend upon the findings of it's fire risk assessment
The rating of required fire doors will depends on the building

If the risk level is found to be low, 30 minutes may be enough time for a full evacuation. Ultimately, whether FD60 or FD30 doors are ‘better’ will depend entirely upon the requirements identified by the FRA.

Where should an FD60 fire door be used?

In high-risk environments, or properties containing high-value goods, FD60 fire doors may be essential to provide enough time for a complete evacuation, or an investment to protect valuables.

The FRA will determine whether FD60 fire doors are required to manage the level of risk identified in a property. Appendix C: Fire Doors of Approved Document B: Fire Safety also sets out guidance for the minimum levels of protection required in different areas of a building. For example, a fire door in a compartment wall separating two buildings should provide sixty minutes (FD60) fire protection, while a fire door providing access to an escape route only has to provide thirty minutes (FD30) fire protection.

Are my fire doors suitable?

Ultimately, the suitability of a fire door can only be determined by your fire risk assessment.

Read our help guide on levels of fire door protection for more detailed information. Our friendly fire door team are also available on 0800 612 4837 to offer advice, or to provide quotes. You can also get an instant online quote for our made-to-measure or standard fire doors.

An inspection can confirm whether your fire door meets the required rating
An inspection can confirm whether your fire door meets the required rating

If you know that your doors need to be replaced with doors of a different rating, our qualified fire door surveyors can take accurate measurements for fire door frames and leaves. Click here for more information about this fire door measuring service.  If you are unsure of the suitability of your fire doors, book a fire door survey with our qualified team.


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
£87.29 ex VAT
£104.75 inc VAT
Buy Now

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

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 & hardware purchased from Safelincs
  • Complete fire door and frame installation available
  • Experienced and knowledgeable installers
£719.79 ex VAT
£863.75 inc VAT
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Ask a Question

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

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Dorgard Pro – a Fire Door Retainer System for Large Premises

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.

Dorgard Pro Fire Door Retainer
Dorgard Pro Fire Door Retainer System

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 Retainer System Components

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.

Dorgard Pro – a simple wireless fire door retainer system for larger buildings

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.

Dorgard Pro can be installed with little or no wiring
Dorgard Pro can be installed with little or no wiring

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.

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

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

How are fire doors rated?

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.

If you would like to gain a deeper understanding of fire door ratings, read our article ‘Fire Door Ratings: FD30 or FD60?‘ to find out more. Alternatively our online fire door configurator will guide you seamlessly through the process of purchasing a fire door.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Director

Angie Dewick-Eisele is co-founder of Safelincs Ltd, one of the leading fire safety providers in the UK. Angie was Marketing Manager for many years and as Director is these days responsible for Content Management.