With awareness of smoke and fire protection needs at an all time high, Steve Bright of A Perry & Co explains how safety goes beyond alarms.
The tragic events at Grenfell Tower in the summer of 2017 placed the spotlight on fire safety. Many will wonder how to make sense of the legislation, avoid being confused by industry jargon, and seek reassurance.
Door and ironmongery manufacturers have for some years taken the initiative to ensure products have been exhaustively tested by respected testing houses, and also that products are clearly marked and easily identified. It is vitally important that the industry continues to promote this work, providing information in an unambiguous way. There can be no assumed knowledge.
For example, a fire door is not the door leaf alone – it is the sum of all its parts, that include the door, frame, ironmongery, intumescent/smoke seals, signage plus many more vital elements, tested on their ability to resist fire under BS EN 1634-1:2014.
It is essential that fire doors and associated ironmongery work in harmony. Components most commonly taken for granted are hinges, locks and latches. They serve a vital function in ensuring the fire door stays secure in its frame and cannot fall open, maintaining the integrity of the fire door.
Hinges, locks and latches need to meet exhaustive standards and testing. They have very clearly defined marks – CE & Certifire; there are strict rules regarding placement, and penalties for misuse. CE marking is a recognised way of ensuring that products meet all relevant health and safety legislation, are compliant with EU legislation, and provide full traceability. Testing involves a notified body which provides verification of compliance claims.
Hinges fall under BS EN 1935, that tests a range of functions that include durability and the door weight. Many hinges classified for use on timber doors have been tested up to 200,000 cycles.
Locks and latches fall under BS EN 12209 which has nine categories against which the product is tested, the most critical of these being suitability for use on fire doors. If compliance is proven, the product can carry a CE mark. Further reassurance is provided when hinges, locks and latches carry the Certifire logo, which denotes an independent third-party certification scheme that assures performance, reliability and traceability of fire protection products. This is recognised worldwide by regulatory bodies as an internationally respected mark of fire safety. It is also recognised in the Approved Document B of the Building Regulations.
Understanding these standards – and the door and ironmongery combination best suited to your property needs – could be a daunting prospect. However, a countrywide network of registered architectural ironmongers can provide invaluable advice and support. Fire door and ironmongery ranges are available to suit all budgets – but can you put a price on peace of mind?
Do I need fire doors in my home?
With so much emphasis placed on our safety when in the workplace and away from home what can we do to safeguard ourselves domestically?
For those undertaking an extensive self-build, renovation or extension project, your architect will be able to advise whether fire doors are required. For your Building Regulations application to be approved, your local council’s Building Control officer will need to see evidence that the technical standards have been met, usually undertaken by your architect.
The Buildings Regulations 2010 Approved Document B volume 1 outlines the fire safety requirements for residential dwellings, which include:
- A two-storey house that has a door leading from an integral garage
- New build or renovated domestic properties above two levels: every door leading to the stairwell at all levels (or any habitable room excluding bathroom or cloakroom)
- Where a property has a loft conversion
- Between the business and residential elements in a mixed-use building
What if i’m replacing internal doors?
If replacing internal doors and you do not already have fire doors fitted then standard doors are fine, however there is nothing to say you cannot have fire doors. Most of us given the opportunity would like to provide this extra safety measure for our family and home.
If using the existing door frames, check whether a fire door will fit. FD30 fire doors are 44 mm thick compared to the standard 35 mm. It may be possible to amend the existing frame to fit a fire door but be careful to check the door’s test evidence as it may require a larger frame section. Your joiner or the door manufacturer should be able to provide advice. Remember that a fire door obtains its test accreditation and evidence through stipulation of the correct door frames, ironmongery, and intumescent strips.
All doors and ironmongery are tested in their as-new condition so it’s important that they are well maintained in use to retain their fire resistance integrity.
The Fire Door Inspection Scheme is a collaboration between the British Woodworking Federation, principle fire door manufacturers and Certifire (as a recognised body its aim is to increase standards of fire doors and associated products across the supply chain). They have a team of inspectors uniquely qualified to undertake fire door inspections, and can help with advice.
Steve Bright is senior marketing manager at hinge manufacturer A Perry & Co