Fire doors are a key component of a passive fire protection strategy in commercial properties. A recent study by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) warned of a ‘tragedy waiting to happen’ after discovering that 75 per cent of the fire doors it inspected in commercial buildings did not meet UK minimum fire door regulations.
Effective, functioning fire doors are critical to safeguarding people and property against the dangers of fire. When a fire breaks out in a commercial building, it can spread rapidly, so fire doors will help to restrict the incursion of smoke and flames and provide employees throughout the property with the opportunity to escape quickly and safely.
If you’re the owner of a commercial property, you must understand the fire door regulations that apply to your building and what steps you should take to achieve compliance.
The Types Of Fire Door Ratings
Fire doors are given an FD rating according to the amount of time that they can withstand fire. There are four FD ratings which apply to fire doors:
- FD30: These fire doors offer 30 minutes of fire resistance. The most common fire doors in commercial properties, FD30-rated doors are the type recommended by fire safety standards and offer excellent resistance to fire, particularly if several are installed along a route within a building.
- FD60: Offering 60 minutes of resistance to fire, FD60-rated doors are predominantly used in premises where important documents are stored. While FD30 doors will provide ample time for people to evacuate from a building, 60-minute rated fire doors allow Fire and Rescue Services the time to bring a blaze under control before vital assets are destroyed.
- FD90 and FD120: These doors provide 90 and 120 minutes of fire resistance respectively but are not commonly used in commercial buildings.
- FD30S and FD60S: Some fire doors are designed to resist the spread of smoke as well as flames, so it is important to ensure that the most suitable door is installed to reduce or mitigate risk at its installation point. These doors will have an ‘S’ after the period of fire resistance, for example, FD30S, and will have been tested to BS476-31.1:1983 or BS EN 1634-3:2004.
In commercial buildings, there are two types of evacuation routes which relate to fire door installation: vertical and horizontal:
- Vertical evacuation: the process of evacuating people of a multistorey building via stairs.
- Horizontal evacuation: the process of moving people away from a fire into a safe (compartmentalised) area, without having to move to a different floor.
The method of evacuation differs between commercial buildings, but fire doors must be installed along the escape route as a minimum, with the specific FD rating determined during an individual fire safety assessment.
How Fire Doors Are Governed By Safety Regulations
Fire doors are easily identified by mandatory blue and white signage which states, ‘Fire door keep shut.’ Also, a fire door has different fittings and features to a regular door, such as a maximum 4mm gap around the outside, a heat-sensitive intumescent seal that expands to prevent smoke from filtering from adjacent rooms, and a self-closing mechanism attached to the top of the door or integrated into the frame.
Fire doors in commercial properties are governed by British Safety Standards and Fire Safety Laws, including:
- The Building Regulations 2010 provides general guidance about all elements of fire safety and compliance.
- Approved Document B (Part B of the Building Regulations).
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires a responsible person to carry out regular fire safety checks on the premises. Smoke seals must be included in this assessment, although they are sometimes overlooked (smoke and draft control should be tested to UL1784, the standard for Air Leakage Tests of Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives).
Commercial Fire Door Inspection And Maintenance
Fire doors in commercial properties must be inspected and maintained regularly by a qualified ‘responsible person’ to ensure they are operational.
- Checks should be carried out at least every six months.
- Doors that are subject to a high volume of traffic should be inspected more frequently.
- Fire doors should be assessed by a suitably qualified specialist who has the competency and knowledge to identify problems or faults.
Contact Us For Expert Fire Door Installation And Advice For Commercial Properties
At Mila Maintenance, our experts can take care of all aspects of your fire door installation, maintenance, and inspection, to ensure your doors comply with all current regulations.
To find out more, please call us today on 0808 100 8881 or send us a message and one of the team will be pleased to assist you.
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