The next generation of composite fire doors

As ODL Europe launches its new Guardsman Fire Door, technical manager Ian Glenister looks at the story behind its development and what makes it an exciting leap forward.

Two years ago, we took the decision to develop a 30-minute composite fire door that offered reliable performance and consistent test results. We wanted to develop a product that would perform over and above anything else currently seen in the composite fire door market and eliminate the unknown elements of a composite fire door’s performance.

To do this, there were two key challenges we needed to overcome: we needed a material that would replace the phenolic foam core that’s at the heart of most composite fire doors; and we needed a design that would consistently meet the required standards even when assembled by different fabricators. Only then can there be the confidence that the door that has been specified truly has the necessary credentials.

We partnered with the engineers at Capstone and a select number of experienced fire door fabricators who shared our ambitions. And we set the bar high.

Any 30-minute fire door we brought to the market would need to pass the European fire test standard of EN 1634, which is the more onerous test standard required by Part B of Building Regulations. We could have relied on British Standard test evidence, but while this ticks all the boxes legally, we knew it doesn’t take a door out of its comfort zone so wouldn’t meet the high standards we had set for ourselves.

We also needed to eliminate the phenolic foam that forms the core of an industry-standard 30-minute composite fire door. We knew a solid core was the way forward and the material we are using is Agrifiber. It is a board material made from resin-bonded agricultural fibres and is a renewable source so has good environmental credentials. Unlike a foam, it is capable of delivering very consistent material densities and, at the right density, it has superb structural properties, product stability, and excellent fire resistance.

The result of our six-figure development investment is the new Guardsman Fire Door.

It has been tested in glazed and unglazed versions. It has also been tested across multiple manufacturers. And in the most recent tests to EN 1634, we have achieved an average of 100% overrun past the 30-minute mark. At the extreme, our 30-minute Guardsman fire door achieved over 70 minutes.

We tested the doors in conjunction with our TriSYS glazing cassettes and TS008 letterplates. Both achieved exceptional ratings far in excess of anything they’ve achieved with any other composite fire door.

Of course, the fire rating was the critical element for us. But we knew there were other factors that were important. For fabricators, that means the Guardsman can be fabricated to a range of sizes from just two base designs. This comes on top of the reassuring reliability of the fire resistance ratings. And the quality of the 2mm GRP facings and the classic low maintenance benefits of a composite door mean it is able to withstand the rigours of day-to-day life.

As a Capstone door, it has hardwood stiles and rails and a 2mm GRP skin. It means it has all the pedigree you would expect from a composite door developed by a manufacturer with Capstone’s credentials. It is a durable and robust door that is virtually maintenance-free and more than capable of withstanding the realities of everyday use while still maintaining a good-looking appearance.

We believe the Guardsman Fire Door is the first in the next generation of composite fire doors: a new generation that can kickstart a step change in the composite fire door sector and deliver better, more reliable fire protection.