How To Ensure Fire Door Specifications Will Comply
Fire doors have an integral role to play in the passive protection of commercial, public and multi-occupancy buildings. Here, as part of this month’s Fire Safety Week, Graham Hulland, Product Marketing Manager, explains why anyone looking to make a robust specification should only ever opt for third party certified door hardware - and why making a truly informed decision means investigating manufacturers’ claims.
According to the British Woodworking Federation, the organisation behind Fire Door Safety Week, there are in excess of three million new fire doors bought and installed every year in the UK, the vast majority of which are made from timber. Fire doors are often the first line of defence in a fire and their correct specification, maintenance and management can be the difference between life and death for building occupants.
It is important to be aware that a fire door needs compliant door hardware and ironmongery to maintain fire safety integrity. Approved Document B of the Building Regulations requires fire doors to be self closing and therefore fitted with an Automatic Self Closing Device defined as: ‘a device which is capable of closing the door from any angle against any latch fitted to the door.’ Any such door closing device should comply with BS EN1154 Controlled Door Closing Devices and be CE marked to this standard.
Furthermore, today best practice is widely considered to mean only sourcing door ironmongery that is third party certified. All parts, including doors, closers, hinges, locks, intumescent seals, panic hardware, door furniture, hold-open and free-swing devices and signage should all be third party approved to provide assurance that products are fit for purpose. This is highlighted in Approved Document B, which states that: "Third party accredited product conformity certification schemes not only provide a means of identifying products, which have demonstrated that they have the requisite performance in fire, but additionally provide confidence that the products actually supplied are provided to the same specification or design as that tested/assessed."
When it comes to a robust specification, schemes such as the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme provide third party and independently certificated products. As highlighted in Approved Document B, this can help provide the assurance that the ironmongery or intumescents are fit for purpose. It is worthwhile taking into account that if incorrect product selection occurs, and non-CERTIFIRE approved ironmongery or intumescents are used on BWF-CERTIFIED fire doors, the certification of the complete fire door is invalidated, putting lives and property at risk, and may result in legal action being imposed.
In all cases and from a legal perspective – all essential hardware should be CE marked as required within the Construction Products Regulation (CPR).
Furthermore, responsible specifiers should also really investigate the test certificates supplied by manufacturers as this can be a source of confusion in itself. Should a manufacturer have a certificate – this does not automatically mean that the door closer is compliant for the scenario it has been selected for.
It is vital to check the ‘scope of approval’ on the test certificate itself, which details the product’s suitability for door types and the installation variants, which could potentially occur. For example, in the case of door closers – these can either be door or transom mounted, with a standard arm, parallel or slide arm application for use on latched or unlatched door. Always check the certificate covers the proposed type of installation.
This is why Fire Door Safety Week has an important function: highlighting the issues around the specification, installation and maintenance of fire doors and providing us as an industry – with the opportunity to engage with those that can really make a difference.
Our message is clear: when it comes to fire doors it is crucial to get the specification right from the outset. This means only ever using a third party certificated piece of hardware which is CE marked product, where required, and crucially – taking the time to investigate information and test certificates from manufacturers. Reputable manufacturers will never shy away from providing comprehensive data or support and by making an educated and informed decision – specifiers can ensure they have played their role in ensuring that a fire door is fit for purpose.