1. What do fire doors do?

Fire doors create a barrier from fire and toxic cold smoke and prevent it from travelling around a building, keeping the damage to a small area, allowing for evacuation, stay put and safe access for emergency services.

2. What makes a fire door work?

All the below components play a CRITICAL role in fire performance. Always check the fire door certificate for compatible specification.

  • Door leaf
  • Frame / Lining
  • Intumescent seals
  • Smoke seals
  • Latch or lock
  • Hinges
  • Other ironmongery
  • Door closer
  • Signage
  • Fire door glazing
  • Frame / wall sealing
  • Threshold seals
  • Installation
  • Regular inspection & maintenance
  • Air transfer grille

3. Where will I see fire doors in my building?

In a block of flats you will find fire doors on the stairwells, the corridors and on the flat front doors. You will also see them protecting areas where there’s a risk of combustion, such as bin storage or mains electricity service cupboard. Sometimes you will find fire doors inside flats, but this depends on the specific design and layout of the individual flat.

4. How do I know it’s a fire door

Fire doors in common areas of the building (corridors and stairwell and service rooms) will have blue signage on the door. Flat front door and those inside individual flats do not require signage.

A fire door only works if it’s installed correctly with the compatible components like ironmongery, seals and frame.

5. Who’s responsible for inspecting and maintaining fire doors in my building?

Your landlord / freeholder will have legal responsibility for the fire doors in the common areas of the building.

You should seek fire safety information from your landlord / freeholder regarding the specific fire plan for your building to ensure you prepared in an emergency.

6. What about my flat front door?

It’s vital it works properly when a fire breaks out, as it forms part of the critical Means of Escape route, so it’s important that your flat front door is a fire door, it is fit for purpose and can be regularly inspected and maintained.

If you are a leasehold tenant, you should examine the details of your lease contract and consult the landlord / freeholder. You may find that you have responsibility to ensure that a suitable fire rated door with all of its compatible components is fitted.

7. Do all fire doors have cold smoke seals?

The majority of fire doors, especially those on flat front doors, corridors and stairwells will have cold smoke seals. You can see these seals because they are either separate from or combined with the intumescent seal, they look like a brush or a plastic fin.

8. What about door closers?

All fire doors in common areas of the building and flat front doors (corridors and stairwells) must have appropriate fire rated door closers fitted.

The closers must be adjusted correctly to ensure the opening and closing forces are correct and that the door can be operated easily. Regular inspection and maintenance is required to ensure these components work correctly otherwise you risk door closers being damaged or disengaged, so they won’t work when it’s needed.

Door closers on flat front doors should only be fitted to the interior side of the door to prevent vandalism and to allow for the door to be correctly adjusted when the closer is fitted.

9. How can I do a basic check on my fire doors?

Here’s 5 basic checks that you can do on your fire doors, although they cannot replace a full inspection by a qualified specialist, they can highlight any immediate issues.

  • Certification

Look for a label or plug on top (or occasionally on the side) of the door.

Without a certification mark, you cannot be sure this really is a fire door.

Use a mirror or the selfie function on your camera phone.

 

  • Gaps

Check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm when the door’s closed. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm), but it does depend on the door. Ideally, you should not see light under the door.

Make sure gaps are not so big that smoke and fire could travel through the cracks.

Use a £1 coin to give a feel for scale, this is about 3mm thick.

 

  • Seals

Look for any intumescent seals around the door or frame. Check they’re intact with no sign of damage.

Be sure the seals will expand if they’re in contact with heat and will stop the fire (and in some cases smoke) moving through the cracks.

Take a look at the edges of the door and frame.

 

  • Hinges

Check all hinges are firmly fixed (three or more of them), with no missing or broken screws.

Be sure the door has been properly maintained, and in the intensity of a fire will perform properly.

Open the door and look at the hinges.

 

  • Closing properly

Check the door closes firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame.

A fire door only works when it’s closed. A fire door is completely useless if it’s wedged open or can’t close fully

Open the door about halfway, let go and see what happens when you allow it to close by itself.

10. Who do I report issues to?

In the first instance, contact your landlord / freeholder or managing agent.

If you are still concerned or not receiving the reassurance you feel you need, you should then contact your Local Authority or fire and rescue services for advice.

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The Horizon Group