What the difference is between fire exit doors and actual fire doors

What the difference is between fire exit doors and actual fire doors

In straight-forward terms a fire exit door does not have to be a fire rated fire door, whereas a fire door, must have proven a fire rating. Fire exit doors can be fire rated doors, and in some situations they need to be.

For example, if the walls and stairwell of a detached two storey property or nore importantly a block of flats are designed to resist fire for 30 minutes, then it is permissible to fit a 30 minute fire rated door. However if the walls and stairwell in these examples are designed to resist fire for 60 minutes, then a 60 minute fire rated door must be fitted, as if not the fire resistance of the entire building will be compromised. Sometimes doors with a 30 minute integrity and 30 minute insulation are specified. In these cases this means that for the first 30 minutes of a 60 minute fire rated door fir door test, if you were to touch the non-fire side of the fire rated door with your hand, it would not be burnt for the first 30 minutes of the fire’s duration.

Most external fire rated fire doors are usually made from timber or steel, with any glazing within them being made with glass that is fire rated. There are a number of specially modified toughened soda-lime glass types available for fire-resistant applications in very specific framing systems.

A fire door in a dwelling tends to be a wooden internal one, whose sole purpose is to enable an escape route through a property in case of a fire and help to compartmentalise any fire, preventing the spread of smoke and flames. Unfortunately as recent events have shown, fire doors should be kept closed at all times, whilst their operation still enabling safe swift egress in the event of a fire.

In England and Wales any fire resisting doorset should be subjected to either a British Standard Fire Test BS 476 Part 22 1987, or a BS/EN 1634-1 2000 test. The results are recorded by an accredited test agency and provided in a report which detail such things as constructional details, distortion data and pressure readings. A fire door is not comprised of just the door leaf or sash. It is the entire door assembly comprising the door frame, any glazing, intumescent fire and smoke seals and all the door furniture, such as hinges, door closers, latches and locks. Every fire door to comply with the England and Wales Building Regulations must be third party tested and certificated with all its components in place.

As fire exit doors are not fire rated doors, they simply tend to be fitted with push bars to permit rapid evacuation of a building and can be made from aluminium, composite, steel, timber and UPVC as amazingly enough do not have to be fire resistant. This is not to say fire exit doors cannot be fire rated as previously mentioned.

Fire exit doors are a vital means of escape in the event of a fire or other incident, so they should be well signed and illuminated, so they can be easily located in a blackout situation. Fire exit doors should towards the best place that offers refuge. Fire exit doors can also be opened from the outside, if for example, a panic bar with a keylock override is fitted. Fire exits and fire exit doors must never be obstructed for obvious safety reasons.

Hazlemere Window Company supply and fit bespoke fire exit doors fitted with special push bars to allow rapid escape for years in both aluminium and UPVC, both as single leaf doors and French doors. In addition, their Commercial Division is often asked for fire rated doors as part of larger window and door projects, and Hazlemere also supply and fit timber fire rated doors when these are a requirement of Building Regulations, such as Building Regulations state must be fitted between a conservatory and a garage.

Sadly, steel fire rated doors are very expensive, as genuinely cost an awful lot more to manufacture than non-fire doors. However the last thing any property owner should do is to cut corners on safety, especially in multi-occupancy buildings.