Fire doors have two important functions in a fire – when closed they form a barrier to stop the spread of fire and when opened they provide a means of escape.
Older panel doors, especially if less then 44mm thick, are unlikely to be FD30 – which in the event of fire provides 30 minutes of protection. Hollow flush doors using egg box or similar construction will not be FD30. This can be detected by the weight and construction of the door. Fire doors are much heavier than a hollow doors. To check the weight of a door you can detach the self-closer and swing the door between your thumb and index finger. This gives a good indication of the weight of the door. Hollow doors are reasonably easy to detect by doing this.
Fire doors will have automatic closing devices fitted, called fire door closers. These can be either spring-loaded self-closing hinges, concealed Perko door closers or similar.
Because of the weight of a fire door, and to prevent it from warping, fire doors are usually fitted with three fire door hinges. The current BS EN standard does allow two hinges in certain circumstances. Check the documentation that was supplied with a fire door for all the necessary information.
Unfortunately, as there is no standard method of identifying fire doors other than the Q-Mark or the CERTIFIRE fire door schemes. Insisting on written proof that a door meets all the necessary standards, for example a test certificate, may still be necessary.
Upgrading existing doors
For many years, it was accepted practice to improve the performance of an existing door to a half-hour fire-resisting standard, but in most cases it was more economical to replace the door rather than alter it. The doors were usually panel type or a light core flush type about 44mm thick and they require a facing on the risk side with a non-combustible board.
It is now the accepted practice to fit new fire doors and fire door-sets in preference to upgrading them but in the case of historic or listed buildings this is not always an option. What you need to do to upgrade the door will depend on its construction and condition. One of the easiest solutions is to add a non-combustible board to the door but this can look ugly and may not be suitable in some situations.
If you would like advice on installing new fire doors or upgrading your existing doors contact us at McCarthy Partnership.