Clearing the Smoke: Understanding the Differences Between Glazed and Non-Glazed Fire Doors
First of all, let’s talk about the basics. A fire door without glazing is essentially a solid door made from fire-resistant materials. It’s designed to stop the spread of fire and smoke from one area of a building to another, providing a barrier that can protect people and property.
Now, a fire door with glazing takes things to the next level. Not only does it provide the same level of protection as a solid door, but it also allows for natural light to flow into a building. This can create a brighter and more welcoming environment, which is especially important in commercial settings like offices and hospitals.
But wait, there’s more! Fire doors with glazing can also provide visual communication between different areas of a building. This can be crucial in places like schools and care homes, where staff need to keep an eye on what’s happening in different parts of the building. Plus, it can create a more open and inclusive environment, which is always a good thing.
Of course, there are some downsides to fire doors with glazing. They can be more expensive than solid doors, and they require more maintenance to ensure that the glazing remains intact and doesn’t compromise the door’s fire-resistant properties. Plus, they can be less effective in terms of insulation and soundproofing, which may not be ideal for certain settings.
So, which is better? It really depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you want maximum protection against fire and smoke, a solid certified fire door may be the way to go. But if you want to create a brighter and more open environment while still maintaining a high level of safety, a fire door with glazing could be the perfect choice.
In the end, it all comes down to what works best for you and your building. Just make sure you work with a reputable supplier and follow all relevant safety standards to ensure that your fire doors are effective and reliable.
Incorporating Fire-Resisting Glazing into Fire Doors
Fire-resisting glazing can be incorporated into fire doors to provide visibility and transparency in areas where natural light is required, such as corridors, stairwells, and entrance areas.
The glazing is made up of specially treated glass that has been tested to ensure it meets the required fire resistance standards, typically for 30 or 60 minutes of fire. The glass is usually combined with an intumescent interlayer that expands in the event of fire, providing a barrier to flames and smoke.
It is important to note that not all fire doors are designed to accommodate fire-resisting glazing, so it’s crucial to consult with a qualified technical expert to ensure the fire rated door and glazing are compatible.
Fire-resisting glazing must also be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, with the correct framing and glazing systems used to ensure the integrity of the fire door is maintained. Any modifications or repairs to the glazing system should also be carried out by a qualified professional to ensure continued fire resistance performance.
Regular maintenance and inspection of fire-resisting glazing is important to ensure it remains in good condition and continues to provide the required level of fire resistance. Any damage or defects should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to maintain the integrity of the fire door.
When are Fire Doors Required?
Fire doors play a crucial role in safeguarding lives and property, and their deployment is mandated by law in non-domestic buildings, including commercial establishments and offices. Multiple-occupancy dwellings, such as student rentals, also require the installation of fire doors throughout the premises.
While homeowners are generally free to decide whether to install fire doors or not, there are certain exceptions. For instance, any newly constructed building with three or more floors or a residential property with an attached garage must have a fire door installed in each habitable room, as well as in the entryway connecting the garage and the house.
While not legally required, it is highly recommended that homes have at least one fire door installed, preferably in areas such as the kitchen or downstairs landings. This can effectively contain a fire within a specific area and help prevent the spread of fire throughout the entire house, providing vital time for occupants to evacuate safely.
Is your Door a Fire Door?
If you’re wondering whether your door is a fire door or not, there are a few things to consider. Older panel doors that are less than 44mm thick are unlikely to be FD30 fire door (able to withstand fire for 30 minutes), but they could have been upgraded or modified to meet the fire resisting standard. Nowadays, there are certified paneled fire doors with wood surfaces that can fit seamlessly into traditional homes.
On the other hand, hollow flush doors that use egg box or similar construction are not FD30, as they are much lighter than fire doors. To check the weight of a door, you can detach the self closer and swing the door between your thumb and index finger. If it feels light, it’s likely a hollow door.
Fire doors also come with automatic closing devices like spring-loaded self-closing hinges and concealed Perko door closers with chains. They’re typically fitted with three fire door hinges to prevent warping due to their weight, although the current BS EN standard allows for two hinges in certain circumstances. You might also find documentation that was supplied with a fire door giving you all the necessary information.
Unfortunately, identifying fire doors is not always straightforward, as there’s no standard method other than the Q-Mark or the CERTIFIRE fire door schemes. Therefore, insisting on written proof such as a test certificate might be necessary to ensure that your door meets all the necessary standards.
Fire Resisting Glazing
When it comes to glazing, we all want to have our cake and eat it too: maximum light transmission and safety. Unfortunately, ordinary glass falls short in the face of heat, cracking and falling out at the first sign of a fire. Enter fire resisting glass – the superhero of glazing that can withstand exposure to the hottest fires for at least 60 minutes before it starts to soften.
But how does it do it, you may wonder? Well, with clear fire resisting glazing, nearly half of the incident heat is transmitted through the glass by radiation, leaving the rest to be dealt with by the glass itself. Size and retention method also play a vital role in the integrity of the glass, with larger sheets collapsing earlier than smaller ones as the temperature rises.
Speaking of rising temperatures, the beading retaining the glass on the unexposed face is subject to some serious heat through radiation, conduction, and convection currents. In fact, it can reach a temperature high enough to ignite timber beading after only 20 minutes! To delay the inevitable, one can either impregnate a surface coating or non-combustible material or fit a fire resistant glass secured with a fire resistant glazing system. This will keep the glass in place during normal use but allow the intumescent material to expand and insulate the glass in the event of a fire.
If you’re looking for even longer periods of fire protection, an improved retention system for the glazing is a must. A small glass panel and a method of fixing that eliminates any direct path for hot gases will do the trick.
What are the Different Types of Fire Doors?
There are two kinds of fire doors in the market – FD30 and FD60 certified doors. While the former can hold back fire for 30 minutes, the latter can do so for an hour. Both variants provide sufficient protection for a secure evacuation in a house. However, if you’re the owner of a multi-story apartment building, an FD60 fire door may be a smart choice to prevent the fire from spreading to other floors and surrounding units.
Can you Alter a Fire Door?
While it is possible to alter a fire door, it is important to proceed with caution as these doors are precision-engineered with every element carefully tested to ensure maximum effectiveness in the event of a fire. Any alterations made to a fire door must be done carefully and with the guidance of a technical expert.
Physical alterations, such as trimming or adjusting the door, or changing the ironmongery, such as hinges, can potentially compromise the door’s ability to function properly in an emergency situation. In particular, alterations to the door frame can damage the intumescent strips, which are a crucial part of the door’s fire-resistant properties. As such, it is strongly recommended to consult with a technical expert before making any alterations to a fire door.
How Big Should Gaps Around Fire Doors be?
Best practice guidance states that the gaps at the sides and top of a timber fire door should be between 2 and 4mm. You can measure the gap with a simple gap gauge. Safelincs provides gap gauges free of charge on request.
Underneath the fire door, a gap of 8mm is traditionally acceptable, although for fire doors that are required to limit the spread of cold smoke only 3 mm is permissible with a threshold seal to be fitted if the gap is bigger.
Maintenance of Fire Doors
Fire doors are no ordinary doors. They are meticulously engineered products that serve as stalwart guardians of life and property in the face of the raging inferno. As with any other life-saving equipment, it is imperative that they are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure optimal performance when the need arises.
For doorsets fitted with hold-open devices or swing-free type closers, it is recommended to close them daily, particularly during low building occupancy, such as overnight. In bustling 24/7 establishments, such as hospitals, fire doors should be closed at least once a week to keep them in top-notch condition. Additionally, all fire doors must effectively close from any angle of opening, using only the door closer.
There are a number of reasons why doors may fail to close:-
Foreign bodies or other objects may be obstructing the door.
The smoke seals may be incorrectly fitted or damaged.
If a latch is fitted, it may be malfunctioning or require lubrication.
The closing device may need adjustment but this must only be done as a last resort and very carefully, to ensure that the door can be opened without undue force.
Fire doors, the unsung heroes of building safety, are crucial in protecting life and property during a fire. To ensure that they perform at their best when it matters the most, regular maintenance and inspection are imperative.
For doors fitted with hold-open devices or swing-free type closers, it is advisable to close them daily, especially during low building occupancy periods such as overnight. For busy buildings that operate around the clock, such as hospitals, weekly closures are recommended. It is essential that fire doors close effectively from any angle of opening, using only the door closer.
However, doors may fail to close for various reasons, such as foreign bodies obstructing the door, incorrectly fitted or damaged smoke seals, malfunctioning or unlubricated latches, or improperly adjusted closing devices. Any necessary adjustment of the closing device should be done carefully and as a last resort to ensure that the door can be opened without excessive force.
To maintain the designated performance potential, intumescent seals should be checked regularly, at intervals not exceeding six months, and replaced if damaged or missing. It is recommended to use replacement seals of the same brand, size, and type as the original. In the absence of such options, any intumescent seal of the same size as the original is better than none.
Over time, mechanical items such as hinges, locks, latches, closers, and floor springs are likely to wear out. It is essential to comply with the hardware supplier’s recommendations for maintenance provisions. If these are not known, occasional light lubrication may be required for locks and latches, while some hinges have self-lubricating bearings that do not require additional lubrication.
When replacing worn hardware on a fire door, it is crucial to use products that match the same specification as the original, wherever possible. Load-bearing or securing hardware, such as hinges, latches, locks, flush bolts, and closers, should be of the same type and size as the original and have been proven for use in timber fire-rated doorsets of the required performance. It is important to note that hardware successfully tested in metal doorsets may not be suitable for use with timber doorsets. Intumescent gaskets may have been used under hinge blades, locks/latches for end plates, strike plates, and/or with closer fittings and in flush bolt recesses, which should be replaced ideally with gaskets of the same material or retained and reused with the new fittings if undamaged. Intumescent gaskets or mastics used for these applications are typically the low-pressure type.
Finally, it is crucial to remove redundant hardware carefully to avoid damaging the door. In conclusion, a little regular maintenance goes a long way in ensuring that fire doors perform optimally, saving lives and property in the process.