The importance of fire doors in safeguarding the safety of a building and its occupants cannot be overestimated.
However, misunderstandings regarding compliance can emerge, with potentially serious consequences.
Fire doors are certified for safe use via a list of compatible and fire-tested materials and components. If the door is tampered with or provided with hardware outside the certified installation guide provided by the manufacturer, this will void the certificate and create an unsafe door.
There’s a multitude of legislation that must be taken into account when specifying a fire door.
Approved Document B of the building regulations states that where fire doors are to be self-closing they should be 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.
In addition, CE marking is applicable to other types of door hardware, which are covered as follows:
- Hinges – BS EN 1935
- Emergency exit devices – BS EN 179
- Panic exit devices – BS EN 1125
- Locks – BS EN 12209
- Controlled door closing devices – BS EN 1154
- Hold-open and free-swing door closing devices – BS EN 1155
- Door co-ordinator devices – BS EN 1158
The product must also have a Declaration of Performance (DoP) from the manufacturer detailing the characteristics of the component, as without this the CE mark is invalid. The DoP details the essential characteristics of the product; these should match the performance rating shown in the CE classification code and on the product itself.
Furthermore, today’s best practice is to only source door ironmongery that is also 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:
“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.”
Schemes such as the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme provide third party and independently certificated products. This can help provide the assurance that the ironmongery or intumescents are fit for purpose.
It is vital that all elements including closers, hinges, locks, seals, and panic hardware as well as any hold-open or free-swing devices fitted to the door are all third-party approved. If non-CERTIFIRE approved ironmongery or intumescents are fitted on BWF-CERTIFIED fire doors, the certification of the complete fire door is invalidated. This can result in legal action being imposed and put lives and property at risk.
Of course, there is also a requirement to comply with other building regulations in addition to this, specifically access requirements. Not all door closers can meet both fire safety and ease of access criteria.
Building access and The Equality Act
When it comes to access into and through buildings, this is the main requirement of the Equality Act. The specific performance of doorsets for minimal opening forces is detailed within the Building Regulations BS8300: 2009 and Approved Document M in England and Wales, Section 3 in Scotland and Part R in Northern Ireland. These all state that: “…a doorset must produce an opening force of below 30N between 0° and 30° degrees and below 22.5N between 30° and 60° degrees.”
Whilst that might sound straightforward, specifiers need to be aware that it is impossible for any manufacturer to claim it has a door ‘closer’ that is compliant with the Equality Act, as the Act does not mention door hardware.
Unless the door is automated or fitted with a hold-open or free-swing door closer, then there is no way of guaranteeing compliance. Door closers are critical in meeting the values for door opening forces, though the effect of other ironmongery should be taken into account as regulations state the opening forces are in relation to the doorset. However, if the building regulations are met then this will meet the Equality Act’s requirements for ease of access.
There are many myths surrounding fire door compliance. However, buying into these can lead to inadequate specification and risk lives. By working with reputable manufacturers, who will never shy away from providing comprehensive data, paperwork and support to ensure an informed decision, you can be assured the fire door is truly fit for purpose.
Choosing the right Door Control
To ensure that your doors comply to the correct regulations please refer to our which door control brochure which will guide you through the selection process.