Everyone’s either done it or seen someone else doing it, even though we all know we aren’t supposed to do it.

We’re talking about wedging fire doors open of course.

Fire doors can seem like a bit of a nuisance at times. They can be heavy to open, can swing shut behind you and you get a good telling off from your health & safety officer if you try to wedge them open!

But of course, in the event of a blaze they become lifesavers, helping to isolate a fire and affording you and your colleagues plenty of time to safely evacuate the building.

Fire doors are an essential element of fire compartmentation, or fire stopping.

Why do all commercial buildings need fire doors?

All non-domestic buildings are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order: 2005, otherwise known as the RRO or FSO.

The RRO covers all aspects of fire safety for commercial properties, of which fire doors are an important factor. The principal regulations and guidance affecting fire doors is contained in Approved Document B : 2006 edition incorporating 2010 amendments.

Fire doors perform two vital functions in a fire: when closed they form a barrier to stop fire and smoke spreading; when opened they provide the occupants with a means of escape.

Compromising either of these two key functions can land business owners in very hot water. Those found guilty of either blocking a fire door, preventing it from closing properly, or failing to even have a fire door can face unlimited fines and up to two years in prison.

Indeed, in 2013, takeaway owner Munawar Ahmed from Croydon was handed a 15-month suspended sentence, a £40,000 fine and an order to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for doing just that.

Where do I need fire doors?

The most commonly specified fire door categories are FD30 and FD60, which provide 30 minutes and 60 minutes of fire protection respectively.

The design of a building, the nature of its business and the particular location of the fire door in that building, will all determine the category of fire door required.

Fire doors offering protection for longer than 60 minutes are occasionally specified where preservation of property is important, but the primary consideration is always the protection of life. If 30 minutes is deemed a sufficient time to evacuate a site, an FD30 fire door is likely to be specified.

Fire safety regulations stipulate the following requirements for fire doors:

  • Domestic dwellings: In homes more than two storeys high, there must be a fire door separating the stairwell and every habitable room (excluding toilets or bathrooms). That includes rooms at every level of the house. Fire doors are also mandatory in loft conversions and between a house and an integral garage.
  • Mixed use buildings: The business and residential sections of mixed-use buildings must be separated by fire doors.
  • Non-domestic buildings: The guidance for non-domestic buildings is much more far-reaching than for domestic dwellings. Guidance is divided into separate sections for horizontal and vertical escape routes. In addition to this, fire doors are required to have the correct signage on both sides indicating that the door is a fire door, plus any further instructions such as “Keep Closed”. Door opening furniture must also visually contrast with the door surface and the frame or architraves must contrast with the surrounding wall so the fire door is clearly identifiable. You can read more about fire safety regulations relating to fire doors in the Government’s Approved Document B.

How can I ensure I’m meeting fire safety regulations?

The best way to safeguard yourself and your building is to entrust your fire risk assessment to accredited and professional fire risk assessors, like as Expert Fire Solutions.

We’ll carry out a comprehensive fire risk assessment, covering everything from means of escape, to emergency lighting, to staff fire safety training.

Contact Expert Fire Solutions today to arrange your fire risk assessment or enquire about our fire door services.