Like many other kinds of legislation, the regulations surrounding fire doors can seem bewildering. However, they’re an important weapon in your arsenal when it comes to ensuring that you have mitigated the risk of a fire spreading through your building. For this reason, it’s worth spending some time making sure that you are aware of your legal obligations and that you’re using your vital cash on the best solutions for your business.
Why Do I Need Fire Doors?
In many areas of fire safety, legislation is open to interpretation which allows business owners to tailor the best solution for their premises. However, when it comes to fire doors, certain standards are enforced, which you may have heard referred to as ‘fire ratings’. What this means is that these doors are specifically designed (and rigorously tested) to show that they can withstand fire for at least 30, and in some cases 60, minutes.
Legal obligations aside, making sure that you have correctly placed fire doors could be the difference between a fire spreading and remaining contained – and that could be the difference between being able to repair your building or having it demolished if fire does break out.
How are Fire Doors Constructed?
Unlike normal internal doors, fire doors are manufactured using fire resistant materials, usually with some kind of solid core. If you are considering installing doors which contain glass, it’s important that you note that the glass must be of the same rating as the doors you are installing – and that also applies to the frames. It’s also a legal requirement for fire doors to contain something known as an ‘intumescent strip’, which expands to seal the door and frame and helps to contain the fire. In some cases, they might also require smoke seals.
How Do I Know that my Fire Doors are Safe?
All fire doors must comply with British Standard (BS476), and European Standard BSEN 1634-1, and the manufacturer is legally obliged to provide certification from a third party tester showing that the door design has been tested under laboratory conditions. This will usually involve the door being placed in a furnace, after which the third party will provide a report which gives the door it’s fire rating (either 30 or 60 minutes). Even after the doors are ‘approved’ and rated, the manufacturer will only be allowed to continue to produce them using a QMS (Quality Management System) which is audited annually by a 3rd party, to ensure that the expected manufacturing standards are met.
As you can see, the production of fire doors is very heavily regulated; this alone should give you some idea of the importance that they have in containing fire and preventing spread to other areas of your building. It’s unlikely that someone with no experience would be able to select the most beneficial areas to place fire doors – before you make any decisions or allocate your company’s money to purchasing them, it’s extremely important that you consult an experienced 3rd party who is able to provide you with the most appropriate plan for installation.