What are fire doors made of?
Fire doors are typically made from a combination of timber, steel, aluminium or gypsum. This makes them heavier and more robust than most standard internal doors. Fire doors are typically 44mm in thickness.
Fire doors have to be completely flush with their frames in order to maximise their fire-stopping capability. Any gaps are filled with a fire-resistant sealant made from silicone. There is also often an intumescent strip attached at the base of the door. This is designed to expand as it gets hotter, preventing smoke from escaping from underneath it without impeding access when the door is pushed open.
Can fire doors have windows?
Readers could be forgiven for assuming that fire doors are unable to be glazed. But fire doors can still have windows without compromising their fire safety.
The windows in glazed fire doors are typically made from ceramic or borosilicate glass. These both offer much greater fire resistance than conventional glass. Some may also feature a wire mesh or lamination within the glass to prevent shattering.
What is the purpose of fire doors?
The purpose of a fire door is to prevent the spread of smoke and flames throughout a building. In order to be effective, fire doors need to be kept shut at all times. When properly used, fire doors will keep smoke and flames at bay for a minimum period of time.
The function of this is to:
Ensure that the building’s occupants have a clear escape route in order to exit the building
Protecting firefighters when they arrive on-site and enabling them to combat the fire safely
Prevent damage from occurring to the building and its contents (this is why leaving fire doors open can invalidate your insurance)
For this reason, fire doors are recommended for all internal doors leading to common area corridors and stairways. They help to ensure a clear escape route so that all occupants can escape the building and gather at the designated fire assembly point.
Different Types of Fire Doors
Ultimately, the component parts and materials are not what makes a fire door. Rather, it is the rigorous heat and stress testing to which the doors are subjected that makes them a fire door.
This is also the main point of differentiation between different types of fire doors. Fire safety doors come in all kinds of sizes, styles and finishes. But the key difference between them is how long they’re able to keep smoke and flames at bay.
The two most common types of fire doors are FD-30 and FD-60 rated. But what do these designations mean?
FD-30 fire doors
FD-30 fire doors are rigorously tested to ensure that they’re able to keep a fire at bay for a minimum of 30 minutes. For most private residences and buildings with shared occupancy, this is enough time to get everyone to safety while you wait for the emergency services to arrive.
FD-60 fire doors
FD-60 rated fire doors are designed to keep smoke and flames at bay for 60 minutes. This is useful for larger buildings of multiple occupancy such as hotels or large apartment buildings where there are more people who need to be evacuated.
Parts of a Fire Door
A fire door is more than just the door leaf itself. A compliant fire door is a complete assembly, encompassing the door panel, frame, seals and ironmongery. This includes both essential ironmongery (hinges, locks, latches etc.) and non-essential (letter plates, security viewers etc.).
The door frame itself will typically be made of solid timber with an expanding intumescent seal around the edges to prevent smoke from passing between the door and the frame. Some models will also incorporate fireproof glass.
Some fire doors are sold as a complete set which is pre-assembled with all the compatible ironmongery and glazing. Others are sold as an assembly with the door frame and leaf as well as essential hardware from separate sources.
In shared and public buildings, it is a requirement that fire doors be kept shut at all times. This allows the fire to be contained and prevents the spread of fire throughout the building. As such, many choose to add a closing mechanism known as a retainer to their fire doors. This allows the fire door to remain open during regular use, but will automatically close the door if the building’s fire alarm is triggered.
Although not technically part of a fire door, the retainer is an integral part of a building’s fire safety provision.
Do I need fire doors?
Legislation states that fire doors are legally required in all domestic buildings over 2 storeys high. If a door leads to a corridor or stairwell from a habitable room, it needs to be a fire door. In homes of multiple occupancy, such as student housing, and self-contained flats, all doors leading to communal areas should be fireproof. In the case of non-domestic buildings, i.e. business premises, fire door requirements depend on whether escape routes are horizontal or vertical.
There is no specific legislation for private residences. However, it's recommended that fire doors be placed in entrances to rooms with the greatest fire risk e.g. kitchens.
We also offer a number of different styles including panelled and flush fire doors - with such classics as the Mexicano oak fire doors and shaker style fire doors remaining firm favourites within the range. With Climadoor fire doors, you can rest assured you’ll get the fire protection you need without compromising your interior aesthetic.
Have a question about fire doors? Do get in touch with our friendly, knowledgeable customer service team, who’ll be able to help.