Seven deadly sins – common fire door faults

A fire door test, which replicates the seven most common defects spotted in social housing flats and apartments, shows just how quickly those doors will fail if incorrectly specified and installed.

As part of Fire Door Safety Week (September 25 – October 1), the BWF-Certifire Scheme released a video of a fire door burn test.

The video compares two almost identical fire doors with the same fire rating (FD30), which means the door should provide at least 30 minutes of protection. This is the most common integrity rating for UK fire doors.

One door is correctly specified and installed, but the other has a series of faults which are frequently identified:

1. The door is secured with only two, non-fire rated, standard hinges. (For a standard height fire door, a minimum of three hinges should be installed to prevent the door from warping in a fire.)

2. There are excessive gaps between the side of the door and the frame. (The gaps around the door should be less than 4mm once the door is shut.)

3. Intumescent and smoke seals are missing. (These are vital to the fire door’s performance as they fill the gap between the door and frame when the door is closed.)

4. The door has a non-fire rated letter plate. (Letter plates must be suitable for use on the specific fire door and detailed on the fire door certificate as a compatible component. Letter plates must also be fitted in the correct location within the fire door leaf and fitted with the correct intumescent protection and fixings.)

5. The air transfer grille does not have an intumescent block fitted inside.

6. Intumescent edge protection is missing around the glazing bead.

7. A non-fire rated panel was installed above the door.

The video shows the incorrectly specified fire door failing long before the 30 minutes it should last, highlighting the importance of correct fire door installation and maintenance.

Without the protection of intumescent interlayer and intumescent seals, the faulty door allows smoke to pour through the gaps after just four and a half minutes.

Hannah Mansell, BWF technical manager and spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week, said: “This test is not an academic exercise. This is about life and death. Just imagine being in front of a faulty fire door, relying on it to buy you time to be saved from a fire, and seeing it fail before your eyes.

“Fire doors are in almost every building where we work, live and sleep and they are often never given a second thought. But they must be specified, fitted and maintained correctly with compatible components that have been third-party certificated. This is the only way to ensure that the fire door performs to its intended fire rating. Every tiny detail and every split-second counts.”

All BWF-Certifire members offer third-party certificated fire doors and components that have been rigorously assessed and audited. Through the scheme approximately 2.5 million fire doors are tested and certified each year.