A flat’s front door forms an essential part of the fire compartmentation for a building.
This is because a fire is most likely to occur inside a flat, therefore, to protect others in the block, it is important that the flat is a secure fire compartment. This means that the flat front door should be suitable for preventing smoke and fire from spreading into the communal areas of the building and posing a danger to others.
The flat entrance door is an essential feature of compartmentation and it must meet the required standards if it is to afford suitable protection to residents and others who may be affected.
What are the required Standards for Fire Doors?
All door-sets should meet the FD30s standard which essentially means that they should be providing 30mins of protection, be fitted with intumescent strips and cold smoke seals, should fit the frame and be self-closing. In most cases, 30 minutes of protection is enough, however, it is important to note that there are some instances where a 60 minute or 120 minute fire door might be necessary; for instance, Grade 1 listed buildings that cannot have control measures implemented for issues with compartmentation.
An intumescent strip (or intumescent seal) is a piece of material fitted around a doorway that when exposed to heat, expands closing any gaps around the door to stop the fire spreading for a period of time.
If you do not have any information on the door-sets, there are few simple checks that can be made to ensure their compliance:
1. If the door is UPVC it is unlikely to meet the FD30s requirements and will not be accepted as a fire door. UPVC doors should be replaced with suitable FD30s doors.
2. Tap or knock the door to see whether it is hollow. A fire door is usually of substantial construction and a light hollow door is unlikely to be of a suitable standard.
3. Fire doors must be a minimum of 44mm (4.4cm) in thickness. If the door has panelled sections and the thickness of these timber panels is less than 44 mm in thicknesses (i.e. they are thinner than the surrounding parts of the door) it is unlikely that the door is a fire door.
4. Check if there are three hinges fitted, which bear the CE mark and that no screws are missing. Older hinges may not have a CE mark but may be suitable, however the CE mark does provide assurance that the hinge will not fail in the event of a fire. If in doubt ask your Fire Risk Assessor for advice.
5. Look for a coloured plug in the door itself or any label or markings, which may indicate the door has been certified by either TRADA’s Q-Mark Scheme or BWF’s Certifire scheme.
6. If your door has a glazed panel(s) within it, the glass should either be Georgian wired or have a special fire-resistant glazing fitted. If the glazing does not have either, it’s unlikely that the door is a fire door.
7. Is there a 25mm door stop fitted around the door frame which the door closes too? Or is an intumescent or smoke seal (or a combination) fitted?
8. Is the door self-closing? i.e. when you let it go, it will shut itself. Fire doors are required to be fitted with either an overhead door closer or a jamb closer.
9. If the door has a letter box this will need to be of a suitable design with intumescent liners fitted so as not to compromise the protection of the door. Cat flaps or dog flaps are unlikely to comply and seriously affect the compartmentation offered by the doors.
10. Finally, the door should fit the frame, Check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm when closed. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm is not uncommon), but it does depend on the door. As a rule of thumb, if you can see light under the door, the gap is likely to be too big.
As a Managing Agent or Landlord, What Should I be doing?
It is important to be aware that in March 2020, the UK Government introduced the Fire Safety Bill (FSB), which seeks to make changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Once this Bill has passed, Freeholders, RMC’s and Managing Agents will have a clearer legal obligation to ensure that the residents’ entrance doors are suitable and sufficient in preventing the spread of smoke and flames.
This means that, you will need to ensure that all Leaseholders’ fire doors leading onto escape routes are, and remain, sufficiently Fire Rated and this is something that can only be achieved through regular Fire Door Inspections.
As part of your Fire Risk Assessment, Assessors will comment on doors as far as they can, bearing in mind that access to front doors can be difficult. However, in order to fully inspect the doors a Fire Door Inspection should be arranged to be carried out by a competent organisation or person. Communication with the residents is vital here, so that full access to the doors can be gained.
For further information, please get in touch with our expert team today.