Fire Door Buying Guide: Regulations, Requirements & Your Responsibilities
From March 2018 to March 2019, the UK’s fire and rescue service attended 182,825 fires, 29,570 of which affected dwellings. And, there were 253 fire-related fatalities recorded in the same period (Home Office [PDF]), so it’s clear more safety precautions need to be taken to reduce how quickly fires can spread, as well as limit the damage they can do.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss the importance of fire doors, explain where and when they need to be used, as well as give you all the information you’ll need to choose the right ones for your building. So, whether you’re a site manager who needs fire doors for a new structure you’re in charge of building, or you’re extending your premises and aren’t sure whether there are any regulations you need to follow, you can pick out your fire doors with confidence.
What is a fire door?
In the simplest of terms, fire doors are designed to prevent the spread of flames and smoke in the event of a fire. They should also help to provide a safe exit from a building or structure in an emergency.
Fire door certification
Steel fire doors undergo rigorous testing before they’re given a CERTIFIRE rating, which shows how long they’re able to withstand fire for. For example, FD30 fire doors will withstand flames for 30 minutes, while an FD60 door will offer fire protection for twice as long. These ratings will typically be enough for doors leading to fire exits, but higher ratings might be needed if you’re trying to protect property or certain assets. Our M2MFD range includes FD240 doors that offer four hours of protection, which might be more suitable in this case.
If you would like to learn more about fire door accreditations, make sure you read our guide to security and fire door ratings. We also have an introduction to fire doors that covers more of the basics, which you might find useful.
Fire door regulations and requirements
There are a number of fire door regulations you may need to abide by, whether you’re working on a new or existing building. You should keep these in mind throughout the process of choosing, installing, and maintaining your fire doors.
If you’re working on a new building or are adding an extension to an existing one, you’ll need to abide by Approved Document B of the UK building regulations, as this covers everything to do with fire safety.
Alternatively, if you’re updating an existing building, you’ll be required to follow the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order: 2005, or the RRO. This goes into depth about what is expected from you, and even explains what the consequences could be if you ignore the necessary rules and regulations.
When is a fire door required?
By law, fire doors are required in almost all commercial buildings, as well as most accommodation premises, such as blocks of flats and sheltered accommodations. They may even be required in some larger owner-occupied houses.
As the layout of every building is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for where fire doors need to be installed. However, the general idea is that fire doors should compartmentalise a building, so an active fire, and the smoke it creates, won’t spread as freely through a structure. It’s usually recommended that they are used for rooms where a fire is most likely to start — for example, this could be a kitchen, a space with a fireplace, or any room that contains electrical or flammable items. There are also some situations in which a fire door will always be required. This includes in loft conversions and between a house and integral garage.
Fire door regulations for commercial properties
As we’ve previously mentioned, almost all commercial buildings will require fire doors in order to keep staff, customers, and the public safe. The duty of ensuring everything is as it should be will lie with the ‘responsible person’ — this could be the building owner, an employer, or a commercial property management company, depending on the circumstances.
According to the RRO, the responsible person needs to carry out regular risk assessments to identify any issues. They must then take steps to reduce or remove and risks they spot — for example, by adding extra fire doors, or replacing those that aren’t in good shape. They also need to ensure any and all fire doors meet the necessary standards laid out in the Regulations.
The responsible person must also ensure that there is always a clear path to a commercial premises’ emergency exits. Again, fire doors might be required for this, but it’s also important that fire doors are never wedged open or locked, as this will prevent them from doing their job in an emergency.
Fire door regulations for domestic properties
Fire doors aren’t a legal requirement for most domestic properties, although some homeowners do still decide to have them installed as a safety precaution. However, there are also some situations in which the relevant building regulations stipulate that you do install fire resistant doors.
If you have a typical two-storey home, by law, you’ll only be required to add a fire door if you want to add a passage from an integral garage to the rest of your home. This will usually be between your garage, kitchen or utility room, and should be a FD30 fire door that includes a fire seal and self-closing mechanism.
If your home has three or more storeys (including loft conversions), the stairwell must offer a continuous path from the highest point to an external door on the ground floor. Every habitable room off the stairwell must have a fire-resistant door, too.
What to consider when buying a fire door
There are many styles of fire door available, and they all come with different features and levels of resistance, which means it isn’t always easy to choose the right one to suit your needs. So, we’re going to take you through everything you need to consider when shopping for the best fire doors to suit your needs and premises.
What do you need your door to do?
Fire door models can be designed for different applications. This means, before you pick out the doors you’re going to install in your building, you need to think carefully about what you need to do. We’ll outline some of the most common styles you’ll find here.
Standard internal fire doors
If you’re looking to increase fire safety inside your building and don’t have any other special requirements, standard internal fire doors will work perfectly. We would always recommend opting for an FD30 fire door as a minimum, although you could go as high as an FD240 if you want to give your property or certain assets some extra protection. They will resist fire for at least four hours.
These are the most basic fire doors in that they’re simply designed to control a fire and smoke long enough to allow everyone in a particular building to escape safely in the case of an emergency. But, if you have extra requirements, a different style of door might be more suitable for your needs.
If you’re looking for standard fire doors to install inside your building, our M2MFD range will work best — they are available with a rating ranging from FD30 to FD240.
Fire doors with noise reduction
If you’re looking for fire doors that will also help to prevent noise from travelling around your building, it’s best to opt for those with an acoustic rating. This might be necessary if you’re renovating a stadium, recording studio, or a sports hall. If you would like to learn more about noise-control doors in general, we have a guide to acoustic testing, which will give you a lot of the information you need.
Here at Bradbury Group, our M2MAC range offers noise reduction, and all of these doors can be given a fire resistance rating if required. So, if you need a door with a dual purpose, these are ideal.
Architectural fire doors
Architectural fire doors allow you to increase the fire safety of your building, without having to compromise on the way it looks. For example, our Capital45 doors can be designed to your specifications so they’re in keeping with the rest of your architectural plans, but they can also be made fire resistant up to FD240.
Secure fire doors
If you’re shopping for a fire door that’s also going to protect your premises from opportunist attacks, a secure fire door will be perfect for the job. Our M2M2 range of doors is ideal for this, as it’s been certified by the LPCB to LPS 1175: Issue 7 Security Rating 2, which means it was tested against attacks using tools with a high mechanical advantage, like a hand drill, junior hacksaw, and a claw hammer. These doors can also be given a CERTIFIRE rating up to FD240. So, if your property isn’t based in a high-risk area, but you want to ensure you building is secure and fire safe, these would fit the bill perfectly.
High security fire doors
High security fire doors are great for external use in areas where there’s a high risk of vandalism and break-ins. They can also be the perfect choice if you’re looking to lock away and protect valuable items or equipment. For example, our M2M4 doors have been certified by the LPCB to LPS 1175: Issue 7 Security Rating 4, which means they’ve been tested and can withstand forced entry using heavy duty tools, such as a disc grinder, jigsaw, or sledgehammer. These can also be given CERTIFIRE accreditation up to FD240, which will provide you with at least four hours of fire resistance.
Fire door sizes
As standard, most styles of fire door will be available as a single, leaf and a half, or double door set. However, within reason, they can be made to suit any size specifications. For example, smaller doors can be manufactured for awkward spaces, while large designs can be created for the likes of shopping centres and stadiums.
It is also worth noting that fire doors are typically thicker than standard internal doors. So, if you’re looking to replace the doors inside your home or workplace with fire safe alternatives, this might take more work than you’re expecting. For example, you might also need to replace the frames to accommodate your new doors.
Do fire doors need to be self-closing?
All fire doors should be fitted with a self-closing device, as this will help to reduce the risk of them being used improperly (FireSafe.org.uk). Fire doors will only do their job if they’re closed whenever they’re not in use, but easy to open when the time calls for it. And, self-closing devices will facilitate all of this, so the danger of fire and smoke spreading will be greatly reduced in the event of an emergency.
Can fire doors have glass panels?
Yes, fire doors can have glass panels — you just need to ensure any doors you pick out are equipped with fire-rated glass. Much like fire doors themselves, this glass is created to withstand the heat of a fire for a specific amount of time.
All of the glass used in the making of our M2MFD and Capital45 doors comes from Ceramic Glass’ FireLite range. FireLite is a 5mm clear ceramic glass that’s been specifically developed to provide robust and stable fire resistance. It can withstand more than 4 hours of fire exposure and, thanks to its inherent resistance to thermal stress, it can be used alongside sprinkler systems.
FireLite glass does a fantastic job of containing flames and smoke to help everyone leave a building safely in the case of a fire. And, this capability can be depended on, even under prolonged fire exposure, which means this glass can be used in our fire doors, with ratings from FD30 to FD240.
What fire door signage do you need?
It’s important that anyone can tell which of your building’s doors are fire-rated at a glance. And, you need to ensure that it’s clear how specific fire doors need to be used. This will ensure they’re always handled properly, as well as make it much easier for everyone to escape safely in an emergency.
All of your fire doors should be marked on both sides with one of three signs. These should say “Automatic fire door keep clear”, “Fire door keep locked shut” or, more commonly, “Fire door keep shut” (Means of Escape [PDF]). You will need to choose the right ones to suit your needs, depending on the type of doors you’ve chosen, and what they’re going to be used for.
Choosing the right fire doors for your building is incredibly important, as they can save lives. When used correctly, all fire doors should contain smoke and flames for a particular amount of time, but you need to choose the right fire rating, size, and style depending on your needs and the design of your building.
We hope this guide has helped to give you a better idea of what kinds of fire doors you should be shopping for, but you can also get in touch with our experienced team for more information or if you have questions about our own fire door range— we’ll be more than happy to help you make the right decision.