Fire rated doors play a critical role in protecting the occupants and contents of a building and the building structure itself in the event of a fire. In Australia there are strict guidelines outlining how fire rated doors should be serviced and maintained to ensure they continue to provide adequate protection. Read on for more information about fire door maintenance.
What are fire rated doors?
Fire rated doors (sometimes called fire doors or fire proof doors) are essential components of a building’s passive fire safety system. They help save lives and reduce the amount of damage done to a building in the case of a fire.
Fire rated doors are specially designed and manufactured to provide a high level of resistance to fire, heat and smoke. They come in a wide range of designs, from automatic sliding doors to single and double leaf hinged doors. Fire rated doors can be made from several different materials such as fire rated glass, steel and e-core.
What are the benefits of fire rated doors?
Fire rated doors are a mandatory requirement in commercial and multi-residential buildings in Australia. They provide numerous benefits, protecting the building and its occupants. Ultimately, fire rated doors help save lives. They are most effective when used in conjunction with other fire safety systems such as alarms, sprinklers, smoke curtains, fire rated windows etc.
In the event of a fire, fire rated doors will help prevent the spread of fire and smoke. They are installed in strategic positions throughout a building to help compartmentalise it and create safe passageways for occupants to evacuate. By delaying the spread of fire, fire rated doors allow the fire brigade more time to arrive at the scene and put out the fire.
How often should fire doors be serviced?
Fire door servicing is essential to ensure the door will provide its required level of protection in the event of a fire. In Australia there are strict guidelines surrounding the manufacture, installation and maintenance of fire rated doors, including how often they should be inspected.
Under section 17 of AS 1851-2005, the current requirements for servicing fire door systems in Australia is every 6 months if they are hinged doors and every 3 months if they are automatic doors. Failing to maintain fire doors to the proper standard may incur a penalty.
What should fire doors be checked for?
Fire door inspections should check all aspects of the door to ensure it continues to meet Australian Standards and will provide adequate protection in the case of a fire. A qualified accredited fire door technician should check the following aspects of the door, and advise if any maintenance, repairs or replacements need to be carried out.
Fire resistant level
All parts of the fire door, including the door leaf, frame and any associated hardware, must continue to meet the required fire resistance level (FRL) as outlined in the Building Code of Australia (AS1905). This means any installation, repairs and maintenance carried out on the door must ensure that it remains compliant with the relevant regulations.
Door surfaces and frames
The surface and frame of a fire door should be completely free of holes, breakages and any other damage that may affect its ability to stop the spread of fire and smoke.
The gaps and clearances between the fire door and the frame and between the fire door and the finished floor must meet Australian Standards.
Any associated hardware that comes with the door, such as handles, hinges, vision panels etc, should be in good condition. There should be no missing or broken parts.
Self closing devices
Fire rated doors should be closed at all times or fitted with automatic closing devices which will cause the door to close and latch on its own when it is triggered by fire or smoke. The self closing and self latching system should be in good working order. If the door is normally kept open by an automatic magnetic release system, this should also be inspected.
A fire rated door should have an effective seal around it when it closes. Any issues with the sealing of the door will need to be addressed as this may compromise the door’s ability to prevent the passage of smoke and fire.
During an inspection, the door should be tested to see that it closes, latches and seals correctly within a specified time frame. Doors that are too slow to close may not provide adequate protection in the case of a fire.
Fire doors should never be obstructed by objects or kept open with a deadbolt lock or similar. Obstructions and obstacles can interfere with the door’s ability to close during the case of a fire and therefore reduce its effectiveness.
It is a legal requirement that fire rated doors are installed with the correct signage, according to the Australian guidelines. Signs should be readable, visible, permanently attached and must comply with the regulations in the Building Code of Australia.
Who can service a fire rated door?
Fire rated doors must be maintained by a suitably qualified and accredited person, according to the local regulations. The owner or manager of a commercial building is responsible for ensuring regular servicing of fire safety systems is carried out and there may be penalties if fire rated doors are not properly maintained.
What to look for between inspections?
Although inspections by a qualified professional are mandatory, you should keep an eye on the condition of fire rated doors in your building all year round. If you notice damage or anything that may be unsafe, it should be reported immediately and dealt with promptly to ensure the building and occupants remain safe.
Things to look out for in between inspections include:
- Any damage to the door or its hardware.
- Any missing parts, including screws.
- Any obstacles or objects placed in front of the door which may prevent it from closing properly.
- Missing or damaged signage.
By paying attention to and properly maintaining fire safety equipment such as fire rated doors, we can better ensure that the building and its occupants are protected in the event of a fire.