What You Need to Know About Fire Door Regulations
Having insubstantial or non-existent fire doors within your business or property can lead to large fines and even prison sentences. It’s therefore vital to make any building you have authority over compliant with all fire door regulations. In 2019 a shocking three-quarters of fire doors inspected by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme were condemned as “not fit for purpose”, endangering those who relied on them. In this guide from Building Material Nationwide, we’ll talk you through the fire doors your building will need, and the various fire door regulations they will be governed by.
What Are Fire Doors?
Internal fire doors serve two purposes within buildings, containing fires and providing clear routes for escape. Fire doors are typically rated FD30 or FD60, meaning that they can offer either 30 minutes or 60 minutes of fire resistance, covering smoke, heat, and flames. Fire doors can be made from a variety of fire-resistant materials, such as wood, glass, and steel. Fire doors are mandated throughout many UK properties, specified in the 2005 Fire Safety Order (RRO). All commercial and large domestic buildings will have a designated “responsible person” who will be responsible for the installation and maintenance of fire doors, ensuring that they meet all UK regulations.
Where do Fire Doors Need to be Installed?
The fire door regulations laid out in the RRO specify the following requirements for buildings:
- Domestic buildings: Homes with three or more stories need to have a fire door for every door between a stairwell and a habitable room. Any door between an integral garage and a house must also be a fire door. Doors to converted lofts should also be fire doors.
- Mixed-use buildings: Any door between a residential and a commercial space must be a fire door.
- Commercial buildings: Fire doors must be designed throughout providing a vertical or horizontal escape route through a building. A vertical escape route is one that directs people towards a stairwell. A horizontal escape route is one that directs people to a fireproof space within a floor. This route will need to be lined with fire doors.
What Are the Fire Door Regulations?
A fire door is comprised of both the door and the frame around it, all of which will be covered by building regulations. It will need to be built with fire-resistant hinges, an automatic door closer, and intumescent seals (sometimes combined with smoke seals) around the door. It will also need to be a legitimate fire door, which may seem obvious, but 16% of doors surveyed in 2019 were not genuine fire doors. There are very specific UK regulations on how fire doors should be installed, signed, and looked after:
What Are the Fire Door Signage Regulations?
Green and white “Fire Exit” signs must be used to mark any escape route through a building. They should be used along the route, but not used directly on doors, to ensure they are continually pointing in the correct direction. Fire doors should have a small blue “Fire Door Keep Shut” sign on both sides. If using double doors both doors will need signs on both sides. If your fire door automatically closes and opens there is a version of the sign stating that.
What Are the Fire Door Height Regulations?
While there are no specific fire door height regulations, there are strict definitions of the width of escape route doors, based on the maximum number of persons within a building. This is shown in the table below.
|Maximum number of people
|Minimum width (mm)
|More than 220
|5 mm per person
Fire doors are specially designed products and will adhere to standard door heights.
What Are the Fire Door Retainer Regulations?
It is against fire door regulations to prop open or hold fire doors open, as they will be unable to stop the spread of fires when held open. Fire doors should be fitted with an automatic closer above them. There are a couple of specific products which can hold fire doors open and automatically close them in the event of a fire. Electromagnetic fire door holders can use a magnet to hold a door open, that automatically disengages when a fire alarm system goes off, allowing the door to close. Another option is a product like the Dorgard, which attaches to the bottom of the door, holding it open in place, but will automatically retract if it hears a fire alarm sound. Traditionally fire doors should automatically close, but there are a couple of approved fire door retainers that can be used to keep them open.
What Are the Fire Door Vision Panel Regulations?
Vision panels, small glass windows within a wooden or steel door, can be used within a suitable fire door. As long as the whole of the fire door and vision panel meet fire ratings they will be fine. Glass can be glazed to make it fire-resistant, and many fire doors contain vision panels.
What Are the Fire Door Gap Width Regulations?
Fire door regulations specify a gap between 2mm and 4mm around or between doors. Aiming for a 3mm gap will allow you to attach intumescent strips and also to block the passage of smoke and flames.
What Are the Fire Door Frame Regulations?
The frame is an essential component of a fire door, and you should purchase and install a certified fire door frame rather than using a standard frame. You can also buy fire doors and frames together. Frames are sometimes called fire door casings.
What Are the Fire Door Lock Regulations?
Fire doors must never be locked whilst a building is occupied, as there must be an unobstructed route to escape through. Locks on fire doors can be used when a building is unoccupied. Like hinges, all components used within a fire door must be fire-resistant in order to pass UK regulations. All hinges used in fire doors must also be fire-rated.
What Are the Fire Door Hinge Regulations?
All hinges used within a fire door must be fire-resistant, with a recommended three hinges per door. Using insubstantial hinges can jeopardise the fire safety of your door.
What Are the Fire Door Fitting Regulations?
Oddly, given how stringent other aspects of the process are, there are no specific qualifications needed to fit a fire door. The government only stipulates that the fitting must be carried out by a “Competent Person”. That being said, fire doors are both vital for safety and required to be installed to exacting standards, so you should look for a professional installer. Bmtrada runs a Q-mark accreditation for fire door installation, which shows a level of competence in an installer.
How Often Should Fire Door Inspections Happen?
The Responsible Person in a building should be checking all fire doors regularly, particularly if they are under heavy use. Checks should be carried out at least once every six months, with a Fire Door Inspection Scheme accredited professional offering a better choice. You should also conduct regular fire tests, to further ensure fire protection for residents or occupiers. If you are investigated legally and found to be failing to install or maintain adequate fire doors, you face the possibility of large fines and jail sentences in extreme cases.
Our Range of Fire Door Supplies
Building Materials Nationwide offers a selection of fire doors and fire door fittings for sale through our website. We have fire-rated doors, intumescent strips, and fire door signs. Our wide range of products can be delivered across the UK, perfect for both new builds and renovations. Sign up for a trade account online or use the contact form below to find out more about how we can help you.