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The 8 Ways in Which Your Fire Doors Are Breaking Building Regulations

A recent article by one of our competitors in this month’s RICS Journal caught my eye with the compelling opening line: “You rarely find a fully compliant fire door”.

It prompted me to look back through the last 10 apartment surveys our office completed to see if the statement was borne out in our experience and in almost all cases the fire doors did not comply with the Building Regulations for one reason or another!

A fire door is a fundamental part of a compartment wall. Its importance should not be underestimated.

The following issues, in order of common recurrence, were noted on our non-intrusive surveys mainly due to incorrect and negligent installation:

  1. No fire tag showing the door’s fire rating, It is a requirement under Part B of the Building Regulations that all fire doors are provided with a permanent tag so as to identify the fire resistance of the door, the manufacturer and the standard to which the door was tested.
  2. Door closers not performing as intended
  3. Missing or painted-over intumescent strips, which compromise fire and smoke resistance
  • 4.Excessive gaps between the door, frame and threshold. The gaps between the door leaf and the door frame should be no more than 3-4mm at the top and sides; the gap at the threshold (bottom) of the door should be no more than 10mm
  1. Defective ironmongery; minimum three stainless steel hinges with a Grade 7 rating

On three occasions in 2020 we had cause to undertake an intrusive survey for an OMC and in addition to the above found that:

  • 6.On removal of the architrave, gaps were noted with daylight visible between the frame and wall
  • 7.Service penetrations above the main entrance door between the common corridor and apartment with no fire sleeving
  • 8.On one occasion the partition around the entrance door comprised a 30 minute plasterboard stud partition wall with no fire-rated plasterboard to give the required 60 minute compartment wall

In apartment developments it is important that the Safety File contains the required certification for all fire doors. A property manager should be looking out for the following when it comes to fire doors when he or she carries out routine checks:

  • Missing or incorrect signage should be addressed; illuminated exit signage relative to each exit door and escape route should be adequate
  • Fire doors should neither be wedged open nor locked
  • Fanlight windows above fire doors should not be replaced with plywood, as it doesn’t offer the necessary fire resistance.
  • If there is glass in the door, it should be fire-rated glass with appropriate framing and intumescent beading
  • The door leaf and frame should be in good condition with no sign of damage or cracking
  • In buildings left vacant with little or no heating (more likely given Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions which encourage working from home) doors (which may have swelled with increased moisture) should be checked to ensure that open and close as intended before reoccupation
  • Maintenance records should be kept

I’ve seen letter boxes, spy holes and Chubb locks retro fitted – all big no nos with a fire door.

Stay safe folks!