David Hindle provides FMs with a five-point plan for maintaining high-quality and certified fire doors and hardware.
04 September 2018 | David Hindle
Fire doors act as an essential barrier against flames and smoke, stopping the spread of fire. Although three million fire doors are installed in the UK every year, incorrect specification, poor installation and a lack of maintenance are still common.
A review by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme revealed the most common fire door faults. These range from missing fire or smoke seals to unsuitable hinges and damage to the door leaf itself. The following are five key elements of a fire door that FMs should monitor closely.
1) Check door closers
A door closer ensures that a fire door always returns to its fully closed position and the door seals correctly in the door frame when not in use.
There are checks that FMs can undertake to make sure these are operating correctly.
- First, open the door fully and check that it closes without dragging across the floor.
- Second, open the door to about 5-10 degrees wide and again check that it fully closes, engaging any latch or seal.
- Finally, check the door closing speed is five seconds from a 90-degree angle, making sure that the door does not slam shut.
If you have a large number of fire doors it might be a good idea to buy a digital force gauge, which will help you to identify opening and closing forces. These are widely available online and cost about £100.
2) Check your hinges
Hinges should be firmly screwed into the door and frame, and FMs should make sure the seals at the top and sides of the door are not damaged or missing. There should be no visible wear; dark marks or stains around the hinge knuckle could indicate wear and impending failure.
3) Intumescent fire and smoke seals
Check that these seals are in good condition and fit the full length of a door, while being secure in the groove too. If seals are badly fitted, damaged or painted, they must be replaced with exactly the same size and intumescent material that was originally specified. If smoke seals have to be replaced, then these should be fitted in one continuous length, if possible.
4) Use a pound coin to check door leaf
Checks should be carried out on fire doors every six months - more regularly if the door is heavily used. A record of inspection and maintenance should be kept, and those responsible for a site should encourage staff to report issues.
FMs should check that the door leaf is not damaged, warped or twisted, and make sure the fire door closes correctly around all parts of the frame. The gap around the door frame should be consistent too - about 3-4mm all the way round. A pound coin is ideal to check the gap around the door.
Fire doors should meet British Standard EN 12519, as well as being CE-marked and Certifire-tested by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).
This label should be in place on top of the door or just below the bottom hinge on a doorset. The label should never be tampered with or painted over, as this could invalidate its certification. If the label is damaged, contact the manufacturer directly to deal with the matter.
By taking the appropriate maintenance checks outlined above, FMs can guarantee a safe and secure environment for all those using a building.
David Hindle is head of door closers at ASSA ABLOY UK.