The importance of fire doors
Fire doors are part of a building’s passive fire protection system. They are an essential requirement for all public buildings, offices and factories. They are also a requirement in certain domestic situations, such as where a kitchen door leads into an integral garage, or for certain doors within a block of flats or in any dwelling where there is a second floor ‘habitable’ room, such as houses with loft conversions or a ‘room in the roof’.
All rooms in any of these situations are separated from other rooms in order to:
- keep any fire in the compartment in which it starts
- protect the occupants (and contents) of other compartments
- provide a safe, protected route to allow the occupants to escape.
The walls, ceilings, entrances and exits are, therefore, designed to resist the fire for a specified period of time. The simple purpose of a fire door in everyday use is just as any other door. However, since a breakout of fire is never predictable the fire door, unlike any other door, must then perform its prime purpose – to protect lives and offer protection to the remainder of the building and to other buildings too.
The performance requirements of fire doors or door sets and their locations within a building are dictated by the national Building Regulations. The government publishes official documents which offer guidance on how to comply with the Regulations:
- in England & Wales it’s Approved Document B
- in Scotland we have Technical Handbooks
- in Northern Ireland there is Technical Booklet E
These regulations and standards state that to provide fire protection to a building and its occupant’s large areas must be compartmentalized or sub-divided to create smaller ones. This acts to slow down the spread of fire and creates escape routes.
The size of these compartments, the structural elements of the building, plus the specified use of areas and their relationship or importance to the rest of the building will all determine the specification of the fire doors to be used.
The regulations apply to all public buildings, offices and factories, together with flats, apartments and domestic properties in certain situations. As well as fire safety regulations, fire doors are also subject to other building regulations such as: – Accessibility (AD-M), sound (AD- E), thermal (AD-L), ventilation (AD-F) and glazing (AD-N).
Why doors have to be certificated
By using a certificated fire door that is fitted correctly with compatible components as identified in the fire test data sheet the fire barrier is maintained. Just like a fire door, all passive fire protection products are potentially life-saving products. And as with all life-saving products, third party certification, involving independent testing and auditing, should be the minimum standard demanded for every building. Through this, the customer and enforcement authorities can be confident that the goods supplied and installed are fit for purpose.
In the UK, most door manufacturers are members of trade associations such as the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) or BM TRADA. Both organisations have a third party certification scheme.
The BWF scheme is called BWF-CERTIFIRE and BM TRADA is Q-Mark Certification. A third scheme is operated by International Fire Consultants. These schemes give assurance that fire doors meet the required standard.
They require regular audit testing of a scheme member’s products to ensure that the standards achieved in the test are maintained.
A Quality Management system, such as ISO 9000, must be in place so that the processes of the scheme member are consistent.
The remainder, who don’t belong to a scheme, can have their fire doors tested by an approved fire testing centre and would have a copy of the fire test certificate, report and data sheet to prove the fire doors meet the required standard. But these companies don’t necessarily audit their products on a regular basis, and there is always a danger that the manufacturing process may have been changed, thereby affecting the door’s performance.
Alcumus SM&MS’ Fire Door Inspection Service
Alcumus SM&MS are able to offer a comprehensive fire door inspection service by our own FDIS (Fire Door Inspection Scheme) certified consultants.
This service includes an on site inspection of all installed fire doors, which is an essential part of any fire risk assessment required by law to be done by the Responsible Person.
Our FDIS certified consultants have been assessed by an independent third party, Exova Warringtonfire and approved to carry out the following:
- check fire door information and schedule of doors to help validate fire doors
- effectively and confidently carry out inspections of fire door installations
- record findings (particularly where inconsistencies are detected and recommendations for rectification are required
- issue the necessary reports all in accordance with the requirements of the FDIS
Our certified consultants are re-assessed every three years to ensure their knowledge and skills are maintained up to date.
If you would like any further information regarding our fire door inspection service, please contact our client services team on 01484 452349.