Fire doors are used as a form of passive fire protection, meaning that they are used in order to prevent the spread of fire and smoke throughout a property in the event of a fire – as opposed to active fire protection which involves the detection and suppression of fires. Other examples of passive fire protection are fire stops and fire walls. Fire doors enable safe evacuation from a building under threat and so the inclusion of fire doors in certain locations within a dwelling is now necessary in order for newly constructed buildings to comply with building regulations. The installation of fire doors should also be accompanied by luminescent strips and cold smoke seals which can be attached either to the fire doors or more commonly to the frame of the fire doors.
Fire doors differ from regular internal doors as they have a central core that is made of either gypsum, steel or vermiculite rather than the usual wood composite that is used for engineered doors. Gypsum is used in fire doors as it absorbs the energy created by the heat from a fire whilst steel can withstand temperatures of up to 1371°C (2500°F) and vermiculite expands when heated rather than disintegrating. Even the timber used to cover the durable core has the dual purpose of not only creating an appropriate style of internal door so that the fire doors will not only be functional but also aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps to slow the spread of smoke and fire.
Fire doors are categorised by the length of time that they can withstand the conditions they are subjected to during a fire; FD30 fire doors will be effective for at least thirty minutes, FD60 fire doors will be operational for sixty minutes and so on. All fire doors undergo stringent testing in order to ensure that they comply with the relevant codes and standards and so that customers can be safe in the knowledge that they will serve their purpose. In the UK all fire doors must undergo either a British Standard Fire Door Test BS 476 Part 22 1987 or the BS/EN 1634-1 2000 test which is the more recent equivalent.
Maintain your Fire Doors
In order to ensure that your fire doors operate at optimal performance it is important to maintain your fire doors and use them appropriately. Fire doors should not be propped open as this will stop them from fulfilling their intended purpose should a fire occur. Regular checks should be made of the fire doors and also of the luminescent strips and smoke seals as any damage will compromise the integrity of the fire doors.