Blog Post

Complete Guide on Fire Doors, Fire Exit Doors & External Fire Doors Regulations

15.12.2022 | 10 min read | Written by Elsa

Fire-stopping doors are a barrier against the spread of fire, heat, and smoke, reducing their impact while giving residents ample time to flee to safety. Following the Victoria Hall Disaster in Sunderland, fire safety standards were first addressed in the UK in 1883. Soon after, the British government started taking legal action to impose minimum building safety standards.

Since then, it has been mandatory for building owners to install the proper fire safety equipment to protect residential and commercial buildings.

Fire doors

What are Building Regulations?

Building regulations are the set of construction rules in the United Kingdom that work to enforce the rules outlined in the pertinent law. All construction projects in the UK require building regulations approval.

The Building Act of 1984 specifies the building codes that are valid throughout England and Wales. The Act’s regulations have been modified, revised, or merged occasionally. The latest version of building regulations was released in June 2022.

Approved document B of the new building regulations discusses fire safety practices that must be followed to safeguard the safety of tenants, firemen, and anyone around in the case of a fire.

The document covers all relevant standards, such as ways to escape, the capacity to contain a fire internally to stop it from spreading, and external fire spread. It also determines guidelines for access to firefighters to the building and its facilities and the presence of internal and external fire detection and warning systems in a building.

According to the approved document B, all buildings must install fire doors per the standards set by fire doors regulations.

Related reading: 5 ways PlanRadar can help you achieve a Golden Thread in fire safety

What are the main kinds of fire-stopping doors?

Fire-stopping doors are a barrier against the spread of fire, heat, and smoke, reducing their impact while giving residents ample time to flee to safety. The position of a fire-stopping door in a building and the kinds of fire risks it encounters affect its efficacy and the type of fire door needed.

There are numerous doors available, each with a unique fire rating and construction. Additionally, fire-resistant door frames, hinges, smoke or gas seals, hardware, and glazing may be part of the door assembly. Several door designs can blend in with the interior decor or stick out to be visible in an emergency. They include:

Internal Fire doors

An internal fire door is designed to resist prolonged direct exposure to fire without enabling the flames to spread to the other side of the door. They typically have a strong wood main door with various other elements (such as door hinges) explicitly designed for fire doors. 

Internal Fire doors are generally used to contain existing fires, function as a heat shield, and safeguard escape routes and safe rooms. Several fire door building regulations control the proper usage of fire doors as well as the requirements to which they must be built.

External Fire Doors/Fire Exit doors

An external fire door or fire exit door is located at the end of an escape route (i.e., at the entrance to safety and the outdoors). It does not possess fire-retardant qualities, so you don’t need to keep it shut during a fire emergency. A fire exit door is a specific kind that offers a unique exit route if a fire breaks out. 

It protects lives in a fire-related disaster because fires can cause a more significant loss of life. Fire exit doors are also known as emergency and fire escape doors. Having fire exit doors in the building can help prevent many fire-related catastrophes.

A fire exit door offers a different path for a speedy evacuation if the usual exit route is obstructed by fire. The goal of the fire door is to allow for quick and unhindered evacuation during a fire. It allows people to flee from the area of the potential fire spread quickly.

Difference between internal fire doors and fire exit doors/external fire doors

Let’s see how internal fire doors and fire exit doors/external fire doors differ from each other:

Purpose Fire doors are meant to stop the fire from spreading from room to room. Fire exits or external fire doors are meant to allow people to leave the building in the event of a fire.
Location Due to their distinct functions, fire and exit doors are typically situated in various building areas. The last door of an escape path, a fire exit door, is typically placed on the building’s exterior. As opposed to this, fire doors are typically found internally between rooms, on stairwells, and on the front doors of apartments in a residential building.
Material Fire exit doors are constructed of sturdy yet lightweight materials to fend off intruders while still being simple to open from the inside. In contrast, fire doors must be able to survive a fire. Hence, they are constructed of highly strong materials.
Signs According to fire exit door regulations, green exit signs should be posted on fire exit doors. Every fire exit sign must be adequately illuminated using a dependable light source. Fire door regulations, however, state that fire doors should have a blue and white sign on both sides. The blue fire door signs should provide explicit instructions to keep the door closed.

Both domestic and commercial properties must follow fire door regulations. Let’s talk briefly about both:

Fire door building regulations for domestic properties

Every landowner should comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) for residential premises. This includes all necessary precautions for apartment buildings and other household structures, such as fire door restrictions.

Following the requirements, loft conversions, the spaces between homes and attached garages, and the spaces separating commercial and residential sections in multi-use structures must all have fire doors. Every stairway door leading to a safe room in domestic structures with more than two stories must have a fire door on all floors.

Fire Door Building Regulations for Commercial Properties

Every commercial building must designate a “responsible person” whose responsibility it is to carry out a detailed Fire Risk Assessment (FRA). The layout and escape strategy of a commercial property determines the type and location of a fire door. Which door rating (FD30 or FD60) is required will depend on how long a complete evacuation of the building is anticipated to take.

Depending on how many people are anticipated to flee a business building, there must be two escape routes: “horizontal” and “vertical.” Vertical evacuation is the procedure of removing everyone from a multi-story structure by using a flight of stairs. On the other hand, in a horizontal evacuation, inhabitants go horizontally into a fireproof compartment or space on the same level or floor to escape the fire.

What regulations should you follow regarding internal fire doors?

Here are the regulations you should follow regarding internal fire doors:

Fire Door Installation Regulations

The only requirement set down by the government for fire door installation is that a competitive individual must do the fitting. Considering that fire doors must be put to stringent requirements and are essential for safety, you should employ professional installation.

Even the slightest problem, such as a fracture or gap between the seal, glass, or door and the frame, can result in a defective fire door that does not meet the safety requirements outlined in the RRO. Hence, fire door installation should be left in the hands of an experienced and trustworthy specialist.

Fire Door Maintenance Regulations

Fire doors must be periodically maintained and examined to ensure that they are entirely functional if and when required. In general, inspections have to be done every two years, with more frequent checks needed for doors that are considered vulnerable to harm from frequent use in high-traffic areas.

An FDIS registered inspector should ideally perform these inspections. Since these inspectors have a diploma in fire doors, their knowledge and abilities have been independently assessed.

Fire Door Frame Regulations

The frame or casing on which a fire door hangs is one of its primary components. You must purchase a fire door frame from a British Woodworking Federation-approved vendor. The vendor should be a company with a licence to produce fire door frames or the company that makes the fire door that goes with it.

Installing a new frame is not always an option. One of the workable alternatives in these circumstances is to install intumescent seals around the door’s edge. Remember that the distance between the door and the frame should not exceed 4 millimetres.

Fire Door Retainer Regulations

Fire doors need to have an automatic closer installed above them. A few specific items can keep fire doors open and close them on their own in the event of a fire.

Electromagnetic fire door holds that employ a magnet to hold a door open immediately disengage when a fire alarm is activated, enabling the door to close. Another choice is a device like the Dorgard, which fastens to the bottom of the door and keeps it open while retracting automatically in the event of a fire alarm.

What regulations apply regarding external fire doors/fire exit doors?

The following external fire door regulations are stated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005, often known as the Fire Safety Order.

  • Sliding or revolving doors are not permitted for exits especially designed as emergency exits, and fire exit doors must open in the direction of escape.
  • Fire exit doors must not be secured or locked in a way that prevents someone from quickly and simply opening them in an emergency.
  • A fire exit door can be secured from the outside if it also serves as security. Still, it must be equipped with an emergency push bar (or other emergency access device) to enable a speedy escape.
  • Fire exits must be visibly identified and marked with sufficient lighting and blue signs on either side. In addition to the necessary emergency features, incorporating effective access control measures is crucial to strike a balance between security and safety for fire exit doors.

What kind of check documentation do you need?

A permanent label displaying the following details must be attached to every fire-rated door supplied on the market. You should know the following documents relating to fire doors:

  • The manufacturer of fire door
  • Whether or not the fire door has fire exit hardware,
  • Any temperature rise rating, if the door assembly is smoke-resistant, and how long the door is meant to withstand fire.
  • Similar labelling that mentions the duration must be present on the associated hardware and frame.
  • Construction plan for fire doors
  • Fire-assessment documentation that contains significant risks and fire safety checklists

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the need for fire door regulations?

Fire door regulations are in place to protect people who may be affected by the fire. They allow people in residential and commercial buildings to safely flee from the building in an emergency.

What happens if you do not comply with building regulations for fire doors?

The violation of fire safety regulations can cause profound implications. In addition to any possible sanctions, failing to protect employees in a commercial setting puts them in danger of harm or even death and a loss of business confidence.

In the unfortunate event that a fire breaks out on your property, you must demonstrate that you took steps to minimise the effects of the occurrence as much as was reasonably practical.

How often should fire doors be replaced?

A fire door’s overall fire resistance and rating may degrade over time. These doors need to be examined yearly to make sure they are appropriately maintained and continue to provide suitable protection. If the yearly inspection shows inadequate fire resistance properties, you should replace the fire door.

Final Thoughts 

In a fire emergency, properly installing and operating fire doors are crucial to assuring the safety of a building’s occupants.

These crucial structures aid in minimising damage during a fire by blocking the transfer of smoke, heat, and flames from one building area to another.

The UK government has passed several fire safety legislation and regulations to ensure that fire safety doors are installed in the appropriate buildings. All fire doors must be chosen or purchased, installed, inspected, and maintained under the relevant internal and external fire door regulations.

PlanRadar is a customisable fire safety software used by leading fire engineers and consultants in the UK and Europe. It is compliant with the UK’s fire doors building regulations.

It allows you to use current fire risk assessment forms to ensure that all your projects adhere to the latest fire safety regulations. For future reference and insurance claims, you can keep a copy of every fire safety document safely stored in the cloud.

Book a demo or start your free trial of PlanRadar’s fire safety software today.

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