Frequently Asked Questions
› Protecting Lives, Preventing Loss
Questions & Answers
Fire doors are an essential line of defence in a fire and can mean the difference between life and death – BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE WORKING PROPERLY.
As a ‘responsible person’ or ‘duty holder’ YOU are responsible for making sure they are fully functional and compliant with the regulations – just as you are for maintaining fire alarms and extinguishers. Failure to do so can lead to personal, as well as corporate prosecution. Latest statistics indicate 45 convictions in a single year for non-compliant fire doors resulting in fines of £1m and even prison sentences.
Because they are in constant use, fire doors need regular maintenance and adjustment in order to stay within the narrow tolerances permitted in the regulations. The law places a clear obligation on the ‘responsible person’ to appoint a ‘competent person’ to do this work – the best way to demonstrate this competence is with independent, third party certification. Without this, it may be difficult to prove that you had taken reasonable steps to ensure fire safety.
WORKSMART are independent, third party accredited for the inspection, maintenance and installation of fire doors. If you have legal responsibilities for fire safety we can help ensure you are meeting those.
Yes. Fire doors are complex, engineered products and, like any engineered product, need regular maintenance. Evidence shows us that many fire doors do not comply with the standards, as you can see from these survey results.
The regulations recommend at least every six months, depending on the amount of usage. Doors that get a lot of traffic, for example in schools, colleges, & hospitals will need more frequent inspections and maintenance – just like a car that does a higher mileage. BS 9999 gives specific information with regard to six monthly fire door inspections.
The regulations state that fire doors should be inspected by a competent person and define what constitutes competence. The best way to ensure your fire doors are fit for purpose is to have them inspected by an inspector who is accredited by a recognised third party organisation such as the FDIS and who is an expert in the relevant standards, components and assembly of fire door sets.
Third Party Accreditation gives you peace of mind that your fire door specialist has the required knowledge and skills to undertake the work. Here at Worksmart we are registered with two UKAS accredited schemes – the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) and BM Trada Q Mark. We undergo regular reassessment and bi-annual audits of our training and business processes as well as the work we have done on site, which includes fire door inspection, maintenance and installation.
By using our expertise and experience you know you are doing everything you can to safeguard your buildings and its occupants.
All non-domestic premises are required by law to have a ‘Responsible Person’ that is responsible for fire safety management. The definition of ‘non-domestic premises’ includes homes of multiple occupation (HMO’s), care homes, student residences and high-rise residential buildings (HRRB’s).
The ‘responsible person’ could be the landlord, leaseholder, employer, building owner or facilities manager – anyone with an element of control over a premises. The law does not expect these people to be fire safety experts, but it does expect them to use properly competent professionals to ensure fire safety equipment is maintained and fit for purpose.
So, unless they are themselves accredited, all ‘responsible persons’ should engage a third party certificated fire door specialist.
UKAS stands for UNITED KINGDOM ACCREDITATION SERVICE. It is the UK’S sole National Accreditation Body, responsible for determining, in the public interest, the technical competence and integrity of organisations such as those offering testing, calibration and certification services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators. In short, UKAS ‘checks the checkers’. UKAS is a non-profit-distributing private company, limited by guarantee and is independent of Government.
Worksmart is approved for fire door inspection, maintenance and installation by the FDIS and BM Trada Q Mark – both UKAS accredited bodies.
According to research carried out by the Fire Door inspection Scheme (FDIS), the most common failing was faulty intumescent/smoke seals. More than 60% of doors inspected failed on this point alone. Fire doors have no chance of holding back fire and smoke if the seals are compromised – leaving the occupants of the building at risk and those responsible open to prosecution.
The BM Trada Q Mark Schemes for Fire Door Installation & Fire Door Maintenance are UKAS accredited schemes designed to ensure that these tasks are carried out to the highest standards and provide a means of certifying the work to the building owner/responsible person.
Membership of these schemes entails initial training and examination to ensure the standards are met and ongoing, 6 monthly audits of training, records and actual work conducted to ensure those standards are maintained.
Worksmart are members of both of these schemes, which means our customers can rest assured that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their obligations to appoint ‘competent persons’ to ‘ensure relevant equipment (fire doors) are kept in an efficient state’ – as defined by law.
Not necessarily. Many faults can be easily remedied by suitably qualified trades people. More serious faults may be repaired using a UKAS approved repair technique by accredited contractors. Only when these options have been explored would it be necessary to replace the door.
Fire compartmentation is a critical element of fire safety – fire emergency plans rely largely on adequate compartmentation being in place. It is achieved by dividing buildings in to fire resistant compartments to resist the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building. It is critical in the protection of escape routes and ‘safe areas’, increasing the chances of occupants escaping safely. Compartments are created by using fire resistant materials in the roof/ceiling, floor and walls, by using fire resistant material to plug the holes created for services to run throughout the building and by using fire resistant doors.
Active Fire Protection (AFP) are systems that are designed to respond to a stimulus, for example heat or smoke – that is, they ‘act’ when they detect something or when a human activates them. AFP systems include fire alarms, sprinklers and fire extinguishers.
Passive Fire Protection (PFP) are elements of a buildings’ structure that require no stimulus to perform their role. Their role, primarily, is to compartmentalise the building to prevent the spread of smoke and fire – protecting escape routes and ‘safe areas’. PFP elements include fire resistant walls & floors, fire stopping around service penetrations and fire doors.
You might think that doors are not ‘passive’, which is exactly why regular inspection and maintenance of fire doors is so important – just like the MOT on your car.
In the worst case, they will not provide the protection to life and property they are intended for in the event of a fire. If they are found to be defective by an enforcing officer you may be prosecuted, fined or even imprisoned.
Fire door ratings are stated in minutes and reflect the number of minutes of resistance to fire, smoke and heat. FD30 provides 30 minute’s resistance. FD60 provides 60 minute’s resistance.
You should have them inspected by a certified fire door inspector, who will use their professional experience and expertise to make a judgement on whether your doors are fire resistant doors. If the inspector concludes that your doors are fire resistant, they will be identified as ‘nominal’, rather than ‘certified’ doors and assessed using the same criteria as certified doors.
Doors may be trimmed within the limits set out by the manufacturer when being installed, but other alterations, such as adding a letter plate, spy hole or additional locks, should only be carried out by a ‘licensed converter’ using only products that are tested for fire resistance to the appropriate British or European Standard for that product and only if the manufacturer’s test evidence for the door permits it.
The Code of Practice covering door hardware for Fire and Escape Doors states in reference to roller bolt catches:
This form of latch cannot be relied upon to give a retaining action and indeed can actually prevent a door from closing fully in to the frame. Their use on fire resisting doors is therefore NOT recommended. It should be noted that some latches, where withdrawal of the latch is via a handle/turn, use a roller rather than a bevelled bolt. Such devices can provide a positive retention of the door leaf but it is important to ensure that the rollers of such devices are made of a material high enough melting point (greater than 800C, or 900C for steel doors over 90 minutes resistance) to meet fire test requirements.
If hold open devices are installed incorrectly the door may bow or twist due to the conflicting forces of the hold-open device and the door-closer. Fire resisting doors can only prevent the passage of fire and smoke in the closed position so it is important that the doors close correctly without excessive gaps so it is essential to install hold-open and closing devices correctly.
It means a door that has been tested and certificated to provide adequate fire resistance. A fire door to a flat entrance is required to provide fire separation so that a fire can be contained within the flat for a specified period of time. This is to protect other parts of the building from fire spread and to protect escape routes.
This will depend on the certification and fire test evidence for the door leaf. Fire doors are subject to a fire test and will have been tested with a glazed aperture. From the fire test a report is produced giving details of limitations to the size and location of glazed apertures in the fire door leaf. The door manufacturer’s instructions and test evidence must be consulted with regard to the installation of glazed apertures and on-site cutting and glazing is not allowed on Certifire certificated fire doors because it will invalidate the certification.
Sodium silicate used in fire seals will expand between five and ten times its original size. But it can be difficult to quantify exactly as it will depend on the heat involved. So a 10×4 seal can expand by five to ten times and a 15×4 seal can expand by the same degree. It is not purely a matter of the intumescent seal expanding to fill the gap around the door, as it is generally tested on 3-4mm gaps around the door. This means that the seal expands to create pressure to help clamp the door into the frame to hold it in place for the required length of time. For this reason larger gaps around existing doors need to be reduced to the tested gap size of 3-4mm. Sodium silicate intumescent material begins to expand at around 100 degrees C which will be in the first few minutes of the fire.
The important thing is to refer to the door manufacturer’s instructions and data sheet. Look for the BWF-CERTIFIRE label on the top edge of the door. It will contain a number with a CF prefix (eg CF160). If you visit the CERTIFIRE website you can download the CERTIFIRE certificate and data sheet which contains the information you need. Also, if it’s a new CERTIFIRE labelled door then it will come with installation instructions. It is essential to fit compatible components as referenced in the current building regulations.
A fire door creates a barrier which resists the development of a fire. They are designed to withstand and hold back fire, heat and smoke for a stated period of time. This is vital in two circumstances and can help to isolate a fire to a specific room to prevent the spread of fire and smoke to other areas. They can also act as a vital barrier to stop the spread of smoke and heat into a room which you are in. This will assist the emergency services, including the fire brigade – in helping make rescues, and to isolate and neutralise a fire.
The regulations require that a building is divided into compartments, protecting escape routes, such as corridors and staircases. In domestic dwellings above two levels, every door leading to the stairwell (at all levels) must be a fire door, where the door leads to a habitable room. (i.e not a bathroom or w/c). Fire doors are also required in loft conversions; between house and integral garage; and between the business and residential elements in a mixed-use building. For non-domestic buildings, guidance is divided into two sections based on horizontal and vertical escape routes.
Worksmart Fire Door Inspections are ideally placed to support you in maintaining not only compliance with the law, but, more importantly, protecting the safety of the people using your building. With an extensive reach throughout Scotland, offices in Edinburgh and Kilmarnock and active projects from Aberdeen to Ayr we have a track record of delivering first class service all over the country. Our aim is to be the first choice for fire door inspection services in Scotland!