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Fire Door Regulations: The Conclusive Handbook

Fire Door Regulations

Fire door regulations continually change as new laws and best practices come into force. As passive fire protection experts, we’re here to keep you legally compliant and guide you through everything you need to know. We regularly update this handbook, ensuring it remains current with the latest regulation changes.

From installation to daily use and maintenance, fire doors are a vital part of any fire safety strategy and are designed to, ultimately, save lives and protect property. They prevent flames and smoke from spreading, helping to safeguard occupants, as well as the emergency services in the event of a fire, and preserve the structural integrity of the building.

Whatever sector you’re looking for guidance on, from high-rise flats to commercial premises or anything in between, we’ll go in-depth with all the fire door regulations you need to know.

What are Fire Doors and What do They Do?

Fire doors are specialist doors which, according to the Code of Practice for Fire Door Assemblies (BS 8214), should provide the same, or similar, level of fire protection as the fixed elements of a building. There are two main jobs for a fire door to do:

  • Contain fire, smoke and toxic gases for specified amounts of time
  • Preserve escape routes
Assessing fire exit doors

At a minimum, a fire door must be able to withstand fire for 30 minutes. Each door is given an “FD rating” which enables you to see at a glance how long it can stand up to fire. These ratings are given after stress testing the entire door set (i.e. the door and all of its components) as per instructions lined out in either BS 476-22:1987 or BS EN 1634-1:2014

The different ratings you generally find are:

  • FD30: Withstands fire for at least 30 minutes
  • FD60: Withstands fire for at least 60 minutes
  • FD90: Withstands fire for at least 90 minutes
  • FD120: Withstands fire for at least 120 minutes

 

As fire doors must adhere to these ratings, it’s understandable why there are such detailed fire door regulations in place. One of our main recommendations to anyone is to source, or ensure your fire door installer sources, all fire doors from certified manufacturers. It’s the best way to ensure you remain compliant with fire door installation regulations and requirements.

Fire Door Signage

Checking the gaps around fire doors with signage

It’s easy to tell a fire door apart from a regular door as, by law, it must have signage. Each door must have a blue and white circular sign on both sides saying “FIRE DOOR KEEP SHUT”. For doors with automatic closing devices, the sign may say “AUTOMATIC FIRE DOOR KEEP CLEAR” or similar instead.

If the fire door leads to a riser cupboard, the sign will differ again, reading along the lines of “FIRE DOOR KEEP LOCKED”. All these signs must be at eye level and easy to read. 

Blue and white signs are mandatory signs, meaning people must do what they say, as per the relevant fire door regulations. Any blue, white and red fire signage, such as fire action cards, are informative rather than mandatory. Any qualified fire door installer, such as Adaston, will be able to advise on the correct signage and ensure you’re legally compliant.

Components of a Fire Door

Fire doors as a general term can mean two things:

  • The door leaf, aka the door panel on its own, or
  • The door set, which is the door leaf and all of its separate components

For us, when referring to fire door regulations, we mean all parts of the door set, as they must all adhere to strict standards in order to remain compliant. It’s easy to overlook how much is involved in one single door set, but there are several major parts:

  • Hinges
  • Seals
  • Handles
  • Glass/glazing
  • Self-closing mechanisms
Fire door self-closing mechanism

Each component plays a vital role. After all, a fire safety system is only as strong as its weakest element, so any failure in the components risks putting lives at risk unnecessarily. 

For example, intumescent seals swell when exposed to heat to secure any gaps in and around the door frame. According to fire door installation regulations, you’re only allowed gaps up to 4mm around the frame to ensure these seals work effectively in the event of a fire. With such precision required, the recommendation is to work with experienced and accredited professionals. 

Fire Exit Doors vs Fire Doors

So far, we’ve covered fire doors used for the interior of buildings. However, there’s a whole different set of fire exit door regulations governing external doors. These doors are instantly recognisable as the ones with push bar handles that lead you out to the exterior of a building. 

Despite their name, these doors aren’t technically fire doors. They preserve the endpoint of a fire exit route but, under normal circumstances, you can use fire exits as regular doors.

Which Buildings Need Fire Doors?

Depending on the size and use of a building, there are different fire door regulations, as outlined in the Fire Safety Order 2005. As a brief summary, all buildings (except some private dwellings) require fire doors. The key features of each building type are as follows.

Private Dwellings

Aerial view of private dwellings in Manchester

While you don’t generally need fire doors in a single occupancy private dwelling, the rules are different if you have an integral garage. Any doors leading directly from the garage to the home interior must be fire doors. The same applies to doors leading to a loft conversion. 

Any homes that are three stories or higher must also have a fire door between a stairwell and a “habitable” room, i.e any room that’s suitable to live in.

Multipurpose Buildings

If you share a commercial space with a residential space, such as a flat over a shop or a pub, you must have a fire door between the commercial and residential space. 

Commercial Buildings

All commercial buildings should have fire compartmentation at a structural level, including fire doors located strategically throughout, to protect the compartments. They must provide an escape route so occupants can safely exit the building if required.

For new buildings, fire door regulations stipulate this must be designed at the planning stage. However, there are times when buildings need amending retrospectively to be compliant, which is something our consultancy services cover at Adaston. 

High-Rise Flats over 11m and 18m

High rise apartment blocks in Salford Quays, Manchester.

With the introduction of the Fire Safety Regulations 2022, there are now extra stipulations in place for high-rise flats over 11m (generally five storeys) and even more for those of 18m (seven storeys) or more. This is to improve safety for residents as a result of phase one of the enquiry following the tragedy at Grenfell.

For fire doors in high-rise apartment blocks, regulations now state all communal fire doors need checking quarterly and doors to flat entrances must be checked once a year. Along with extra precautions for fire doors, there are other regulations relating to general fire safety in these buildings. You can read more about this in our article, Fire Safety Regulations 2022: What They Mean for You.

Updates to legislation which came into effect in October 2023, also introduce specific obligations for residential units classed as ‘higher-risk’ buildings. Higher-risk buildings are those with at least two residential units which are 18 metres in height or have at least seven storeys.  These residential high-rise buildings must appoint an ‘accountable person’, as defined by the Building Safety Act 2022, who has specific duties and responsibilities for the safety of the building.

What’s more, all new higher-risk buildings must be registered with the BSR (Building Safety Regulator) who will oversee the safety and standards of all high-rise buildings. They will assess whether dutyholders are properly considering building safety and meeting all regulations. BSR will regulate high-rise buildings with 7 or more storeys or that are 18 metres or higher, and either:

  • have at least 2 residential units
  • are hospitals or care homes (during design and construction)

 

Along with residential buildings, hospital and healthcare buildings meeting the same height regulations are also covered by this legislation. Find out more about the importance of passive fire protection in the healthcare sector and how the rules apply to you.

Fire Door Installation Regulations

Ensuring your fire door structurally adheres to regulations is a strong starting point for compliance, but you then need to ensure it’s installed correctly. Even the best fire door can fail within five minutes if it’s poorly installed, weakening your fire safety system and risking lives. 

The fire door regulations state doors must be installed by a “competent person”, aka someone with the necessary knowledge, qualifications, training and experience. With the potential consequences of poor installation being so severe, we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to ensure the installer truly understands what they’re doing.

Fire door installation requires ultimate precision, as being even a millimetre out can result in your fire door not working sufficiently. It’s for this reason that we recommend working with a professional to get your fire safety system right from the outset. As third party accredited experts, you can trust Adaston to keep you safe and compliant.

Once your fire doors are installed, it’s then your responsibility to maintain them effectively. The best way to do this is through systemic checks and inspections, as we’ll cover below.

 

Adaston worker checking fire safety equipment

How Often Should I Check Fire Doors?

According to fire door regulations, how often you should check fire doors depends on several factors, such as their location, level of use and the building type. 

As a general guide, you should check all fire doors twice a year, or more in areas of high use where they’re prone to wear and tear. For example, doors in hospital corridors face excessive use and need, at the very least, more frequent visual checks (as opposed to formal surveys) to ensure they’re in good working order.

As of October 2023, Phase Three updates to Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 mean that the responsible person, which could be a landlord or letting agent, is now required to appoint someone to conduct regular risk assessments. It is advised that these fire risk assessments should be completed at least every 12 months. This person is now required by law to be deemed ‘competent’, meaning that the person must have enough training, experience and knowledge to ensure that they review the risk assessment effectively. 

By having a professional fire door survey, you can ensure all doors are safe and compliant. It’s also a chance to set up a schedule for any further remedial or maintenance work required. It is now a legal requirement to have a formal record of these surveys. Importantly, the reports must now include all findings, not only significant ones, as was previously the case.

This is imperative in order to meet the increased requirements of the recording and sharing of fire safety information, in turn creating a continual record throughout a building’s lifespan. This ensures that the record can be referred to in the future by authorities and potential owners of the building.

Furthermore, the responsible person must also take reasonable steps to determine that any other responsible persons understand the potential risks and duties regarding the premises. Perhaps most significantly, updates to the legislation now means that any risks identified by the risk assessment must also be made available to the residents of the building. They are now entitled to access to comprehensive information about fire safety in their building.

In 2021, the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS), found that three-quarters of the 100,000 doors inspected did not meet the required standards[1]. This shocking statistic means the people these doors were protecting were unnecessarily at risk. What’s more, they were likely completely unaware of this potential danger. The intention of the government’s updates are to make sure residents feel safer and, importantly, are safer.

With the introduction of the Building Safety Act in April 2022 (which came into enforcement October 1st 2023), 77% of FDIS inspectors have seen an increase in demand for fire door inspections. With this expected to rise further, it proves just how important fire door safety is to protect lives and remain compliant with fire door regulations.

A major change to legislation now makes it easier for enforcement authorities to take action against non-compliance. There is now an increased level of fines for offences such as failure to provide a copy of the fire risk assessment when requested. The new level of fines will take effect from 1st October 2023, so there has never been a more important time to ensure compliance by undergoing a fire door survey by a competent inspector like Adaston.

Adaston worker in hi-vis and hard hat

Fire Safety With Adaston

As passive fire protection specialists, we’re here to ensure your fire safety systems work effectively and remain compliant. Working with some of the UK’s best certified fire door suppliers and with our own team of in-house surveyors and installers, all our work represents industry-leading best practices. 

For advice on compliance or for any other information on fire door regulations, contact us today. 

Written by

Nic Bohanna Linkedin

Nic is the Key Client Manager at Adaston with a degree from the prestigious Durham University. With a background in management in the service industry, he now ensures all our passive fire protection services run smoothly. When he’s not at work, you’ll find him pursuing his favourite activities of hill walking, a game of golf, or enjoying a nice cold pint.

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