Fire doors have become a feature of many properties in the UK in recent years, as they are a key mechanism against the spreading of fires. Some properties will require fire-rated doors to be in line with current building regulations, however, now even people with properties that do not need fire doors are having them fitted as further protection from fire. So, with fire doors becoming more popular in homes it is essential that you know the importance of fire doors for home safety. In this article, we will cover why fire doors are important in houses to save lives, what to consider when installing them and the maintenance that fire doors will require to maintain their resistance to fire.
The difference between fire doors and standard doors
Some properties may need fire doors as a requirement under British Standards. Internal fire doors are different to standard doors in the way that they are specially designed to resist the passage of fire and smoke to allow you to exit your home safely and reduce damage in the event of a fire. Find some of the main differences stated below:
- Fire doors are much heavier and thicker than normal internal doors due to the composite materials they are made from.
- All internal fire rated doors need to be fitted with a door closer so they automatically shut – If left open they will not work properly against fire.
- Door edges need to be sealed around the edges so this can swell when heated to block any gaps.
- Any doors with windows fitted will need to be produced with fire-resistant glazing.
- If you have any ironmongery fitted to your doors, they will also need to be completely fire resistant as well, as the door needs to be fully fireproof to combat a fire.
When are fire doors required at properties?
Fire doors are not required at all properties however in certain situations domestic homes will need to have fire-rated doors fitted in line with current regulations. If you have an architect involved in a home renovation, they will usually advise you on what the requirements are for your property and deal with the relevant regulations. When completing smaller renovations, the following regulations will apply for fire doors to be installed:
- If you have a two-storey property with a door leading from an integral garage into your home, you will require a fire-rated door.
- Any new build or renovated houses with three or more storeys including loft conversions will require fire doors to be fitted to all habitable rooms coming off the stairwell.
Although your home may not legally require fire doors you may want to fit fire rated internal doors anyway for the extra precautions and safety benefits that the doors provide. For those considering replacing standard internal doors with fire doors, you should think about your current door frames and ensure that fire-rated doors will fit as they come much thicker than regular internal doors. However, if needed it is sometimes possible to adjust your door frames to fit thicker doors, so you can have fire doors installed to add further protection to your home. So, if you are looking to ensure your property is further protected from fires, investing in fire doors will be ideal for you.
How fire doors save lives
Fire doors are known for their excellent design to prevent the spread of smoke, flames and toxic gases throughout properties in the event of a fire, but how do they work to save lives? Fire-rated doors allow those inside a property to escape from a fire safely by acting as a barrier to the passage of fire and smoke within varying time periods, depending on the category of the fire door. There are two main categories of fire doors, the FD30 and the FD60, offering 30 and 60 minutes of fire resistance respectfully. The most common use in UK homes is FD30 doors, these doors help to save lives by giving occupants more time to escape from a fire and also allowing the fire service a longer period to rescue anyone who is trapped and to put out the fire.
All doors that are labelled as fire-rated go through the BS 476 Part 22 test, measuring the duration of how long doors can resist fire spreading between areas and how successful it is in stopping the spreading of flames, smoke and fumes. So, you can rest assured when you have fire doors fitted properly that they will resist fires and provide you with the time to quickly evacuate your home. This significantly improves your property’s defences against fires, not only benefitting your safety but also reducing the amount of damage to your home in the event of a fire. So, by preventing more of your property being lost and doing more damage to your home than necessary, fire doors can be a great help in saving lives and homes during fires.
Installing fire doors properly
Installing a fire door is a complex procedure which requires detailed knowledge of fire safety and the doors being fitted. If a fire door is not fitted properly it will mean that the door will not be fit for purpose, which could potentially put occupants lives at risk. When having fire rated doors fitted at your home you should ensure that the individual installing your doors is fully trained and competent to carry out the job. In the installation process of your new internal fire doors, you should follow a checklist to make sure your doors will be fire resistant and work sufficiently. Follow our checklist of the key things to remember when installing fire doors below for a successful fitting:
- Check any ironmongery such as locks, latches, closers and hinges are CE marked and are completely fireproof.
- Ensure that the door frame/lining/casing and smoke seals are compatible with your internal door.
- Revise your building regulations to be certain you are following all of them correctly.
- Follow the instructions on the door to correctly install your door to the frame and once complete, check that the closer shuts the door onto the latch from every position.
Maintenance of fire doors
Fire doors like any internal doors can become damaged from their use in your home over time so it is important that you carry out maintenance checks to see if your door is still working as it should be. Firstly, you should check that your door is still closing properly as this is a common function that can become damaged and redundant that will mean your door if not effective in the event of a fire. A fire door only works when it is closed so if your door cannot close fully it is time to fix the fault. If your door does not close by itself onto the latch, you should make the relevant adjustments or bring in an expert to fix the problem to get your door working again.
As well as checking the closing function you should also regularly carry out checks on the gaps, seals and hinges of your door. For maintaining gaps, you should ensure that any gaps are less than 4mm when the door is closed around the top and sides and less than 8mm underneath the door. If the gaps are too big smoke may be able to pass through, this is similar with checking the seals as these need to be intact with no damage to ensure no smoke can pass through. Finally, you should check the hinges of your door to ensure that they are firmly fixed and have no missing or broken screws. If you have completed all of the checks above and your door has no faults your door will be ready to resist fire. If not, you should ensure that you fix any problems as soon as possible to keep your doors working properly.
Now you know the importance of fire doors for home safety, you can see whether it is worth having fire doors installed at your home or whether they are required at your property. If you already have fire-rated doors fitted, remember to keep up your regular maintenance checks to ensure your safety is a high priority at your home.