Why should a fire door be kept closed?
A fire door should be kept closed at all times. In a commercial setting, fire doors should also bear mandatory signage. This comes in the form of a blue sticker that reads “Fire Door Keep Shut” in white lettering.
While wedging a fire door open may seem convenient and harmless, it can actually compromise the fire safety of the building.
The purpose of a fire door is to block out potentially harmful smoke and flames. Fire doors are designed to keep the fire at bay for a minimum of 30 minutes, until the emergency services can attend to the fire.
If a fire breaks out within a building, the fire door can keep it contained and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the property. This could potentially cause not only property damage but the risk of injury or even death.
As well as being a practical and moral obligation, it is also a legal requirement to keep your fire doors closed. If you keep internal fire doors open, this could make you legally vulnerable. We’ll discuss that in more detail shortly.
What about fire exit doors?
There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, fire exit doors are treated slightly differently. Fire exit doors are not intended to contain harmful flames and smoke. Instead, they are designed to provide an expedient exit for everyone in the building if a fire should break out. As such, they don’t even necessarily need to be fire-resistant.
Some, but not all, fire exit doors can be kept open without penalty. If a fire door provides general access to a building it may be left open. However, if a fire exit door is positioned as the main point of entrance or exit to or from a building, it must remain closed with no obstructions on either side.
What about fire doors with retainers?
Another exception to the rule is fire doors that have a certified retainer fitted. These mechanisms hold fire safety doors open unless a fire alarm is triggered within the building. When a fire alarm is triggered, these will automatically close and remain shut unless the fire alarm is deactivated.
Fire doors, even those with retainers, cannot be wedged open. This is because they will be unable to close when a fire breaks out. Even if they have the capacity to close themselves, they will still be obstructed by a door stop, wedge, or whatever else is used to keep them open.
Is it illegal to wedge open a fire door?
In line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in 2005, all property owners are required by law to fit appropriate fire doors to all premises other than private homes. In order to be legally compliant, these need to be fitted by a registered competent person.
But what does the law say about wedging doors open?
The law states that while the act of wedging a fire door open is not necessarily illegal in and of itself, doing so could make you legally liable for injury or loss of life that occurred if a fire were to spread on your premises.
Moreover, wedging your fire doors open will almost certainly invalidate your insurance policy, and lead to extensive costs when it comes to repairing any damage caused by the fire.
What type of fire spread can occur if a fire door is wedged open?
The urge to wedge internal fire doors open is completely understandable. Especially when navigating a wheelchair or moving heavy equipment. But if fire doors are left unable to close, it could leave you, your business and your investment extremely vulnerable if a fire should break out.
Smoke can travel extremely quickly, and an indoor fire can become life threatening in just two minutes. If a fire door is wedged open, smoke and flames are free to traverse your corridors and communal spaces. This can lead to the spread of toxic fumes, as well as cutting off potential means of escape.
FD-30 rated fire doors will keep flames and smoke at bay for a minimum of 30 minutes. This should be ample time for the fire service to arrive and take steps to combat the fire. But, of course, these fire doors can only do their job if they are left closed at all times. Even a partially obstructed fire door is rendered useless if smoke and flames are left to pass through it.
At Climadoor, we’re proud to stock a wide range of FD-30 fire rated doors for domestic and commercial properties that perfectly compliment our range of standard single internal doors - allowing you to maintain a consistent design throughout your space.
These are all rigorously tested to ensure that they keep fire at bay for at least 30 minutes, leaving you and everyone under your roof ample time to get to safety. But they can only do their job when they are kept closed in the event of a fire.
Ensure that your internal fire doors are kept closed at all times, unless you have appropriate retainers fitted.
Need to know more about how to incorporate fire doors into your space? Get in touch with our friendly, knowledgable team who are always on hand to help.