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All of us who use or occupy any building have a right to expect
that we will be safely protected should a fire break out. Sadly
this is not always the case. Something may fail within the
fabric of the building, or with the fire safety devices and tragedy
occurs, causing death or serious injury
Fire doors are part of a building's PASSIVE fire protection
system, an essential requirement for public buildings, offices and
They are also a requirement in certain domestic situations,
depending on the country's local regulations, for example
All rooms in any of these situations are separated from other
rooms, or compartmented, in order to:
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 every day 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.
Fire doors - the burning questions.
Q: How are
fire doors different to standard doors?
Q: How do I know if I
need a fire door?
Q: Can I choose any style of door as a
Q: Is there anything different about
installing a fire door?
Q: How are fire doors tested?
are fire doors different to standard doors?
A: Fire doors are manufactured to withstand the
spread of fire for a given period of time, normally a minimum of 30
minutes. This allows time for inhabitants of a building to escape.
Fire doors may be of solid construction or made with a special
core, often flax board or a wood composite material that is slow to
burn. They are also made with special seals, fitted into either the
door or frame, which seal the door on impact with heat, to stop the
spread of fire and/or smoke around the edges of the door.
Q: How do I
know if I need a fire door?
A: Fire doors are mainly used in commercial
buildings, such as hotels and offices but are also mandatory in
some domestic homes, depending on the country specific building
regulations. You therefore need to check your building regulations.
The majority of fire doors are fitted internally but in certain
situations they may be required for external use, such as a
sheltered passageway. The regulations are there to stipulate the
legal requirement for fire safety.
Q: Can I
choose any style of door as a fire door?
A: Many doors are available as fire doors, so
there is a huge choice of designs including many finishes and
glazing options. Fire doors are commonly sold as a complete 'set'
including the frame and essential ironmongery, that holds the door
in place in the event of fire. This is often a safer solution as
the 'door set' should have been tested to ensure all elements are
Q: Is there
anything different about installing a fire door?
A: Yes. A fire door is a life-saving
product and must be fitted correctly. The installation is critical
to the door's performance in the event of a fire. Fitting
instructions would normally be supplied with the door and it is
essential to follow these instructions and to check that any
elements used are compatible including the correct seals and
Q: How are
fire doors tested?
A: There is a legal requirement for fire door
manufacturers to prove that their doors perform as claimed. This is
usually done with an independent third party testing company. A
'door set' is built into a suitable construction on a furnace and a
real fire test is conducted to determine the period of resistance,
30 minutes etc. This test provides the evidence for this particular
'door set' construction. See example video of a real fire test.
Here is an example of fire door testing from the UK: