Fire Door Regulations
What are fire door regulations and does UK law say about fire doors?
In the UK fire safety law applies to any building except the inside of people’s private houses or flats. The law is called the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
It states that each building needs to duty holder or holders who are responsible for mitigating the risk of fire in all non-domestic buildings.
This includes the common parts of flats, apartments and houses of multiple occupation.
The duty holder is called the ‘responsible person’. This is typically the person, organisation or company that controls the building.
The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment and maintain a fire management plan.
The Fire Safety Order contains 2 key paragraphs:
- Article 17 requires the responsible person has ‘a suitable maintenance regime to ensure relevant equipment is kept in an efficient state’. This includes fire doors.
- Article 18 ‘requires the responsible person to appoint one or more competent persons to assist in undertaking the preventative and protective measures’.
A competent person is defined in the Fire Safety Order as ‘someone who has sufficient training and experience to assist the Responsible Person to meet some of their duties.’
For example a fire door installation is a job for a ‘competent person’. So is a fire door inspection.
For example relevant training and experience would be things like an inspector being a certified FDIS inspector. Or an installer doing installation awareness training such as the BWF Fire Door Installation Awareness Course.
Failure to adhere to the terms of the Fire Safety Order can lead to fines and prison sentences. Therefore, it is vital that the law is understood and respected.
There are similar laws in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. But instead of being called a ‘responsible person’ those that have control over the building are referred to as ‘Duty Holders’ in Scotland. In Northern Ireland they are referred to as ‘Appropriate Persons’.
The Fire Safety Order also makes it clear that you need to conduct a fire risk assessment.
What is a fire risk assessment?
Because fire is a risk to life and property all non-domestic buildings must have a fire risk assessment. A fire risk assessment is a very important document that all buildings must have, it must be up to date and relevant. A fire risk assessment should be carried out by the responsible person. Or they need to consult a competent person to assist them. The aim is to mitigate fire risks within a building. Regarding fire doors a fire risk assessment needs to include the requirements for fire doors, what ratings are needed, where they are needed and the maintenance regime.
Fire Safety Act 2021
The Fire Safety Bill has passed into law – and became the Fire Safety Act when it was passed on Thursday 29 April 2021. Although it has now passed into law the Fire Safety Act will not be enforced until 2023. Therefore giving housing associations, local authorities and property managers two years to address fire safety issues.
Regarding fire doors the Fire Safety Act has closed a loophole that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 failed to address. The Fire Safety Act requires that fire doors to individual flats must be inspected as part a fire risk assessment on any given building. From now on (in England and Wales), the ‘Responsible Person’ must by law commission a fire risk assessment which includes a full fire doors full fire door inspection.
What is Regulation 7?
Regulation 7 of Building Regulations applies in England and Wales. It states that materials must be appropriate for all building work. It also states that work must be carried out in a ‘workmanlike manner’.
Specifically it says you need to establish the fitness of the materials for the building work being carried out. For example checking for CE marking. This would now also include UKCA marking now that the UK has left the EU. Examples of components used on fire doors that require CE and/or UKCA markings are closers and hinges.
And checking the performance of a product. For example regarding fire doors this would mean using products that have been tested in accordance with the relevant British and European standards at a UKAS test facility. A good way to check this is by using products that are certificated by third-party certification schemes such as Certifire or BM-Trada’s Q-Mark.
As for ensuring that work will be carried out in a workmanlike manner, Regulation 7 states that you should look for the following:
- Independent certification schemes – Regarding fire doors this can include schemes such as BM-Trada’s Q-Mark Fire Door Installation Scheme.
- Checking past experience.
It is important to remember that anyone who installs a fire door should be competent. They must have relevant training, experience and qualifications to carry out the work.
What is Regulation 38?
Regulation 38 applies in England and Wales. It states that at the completion of a project, or when the project is first occupied fire safety information must be handed to the ‘responsible person’. This is especially important as this provides the responsible person with vital information to inspect and maintain their fire doors. It is vital that the correct information is provided for each component and the door leaf.
The information handed to the ‘responsible person’ as defined in the Fire Safety Order and should include installation and maintenance instructions. Additionally, you must provide the certificate of approval for the doors and leave any labels or plugs on the door intact.
Building Regulations – Approved Document B
In England and Wales, the building regulations affecting fire safety is Approved Document B. It is broken down into 2 volumes. Volume 1 – Dwelling Houses, Volume 2 – Building other than dwelling houses.
Approved Document B is explicit in explaining where fire doors need be located within buildings.
These regulations must be strictly followed in order to achieve fire door compliance.
Similar regulations exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the regulation is called The Building Regulations 2004 – Technical Handbook 2, in Northern Ireland it’s called The Building Regulations 2012 – Technical Booklet E.
Building Regulations – Approved Document M
In England and Wales, the building regulations affecting accessibility of buildings is Approved Document M. It too is broken down into 2 volumes. Volume 1 – Dwelling Houses, Volume 2 – Building other than dwelling houses.
Regarding fire doors Approved Document M is very clear:
1) Opening force requirements – There needs to be a maximum opening force of 30N for the first 30 degrees of opening and then a maximum opening force of 22.5N between 30 – 60 degrees. See diagram below:
2) Door thresholds – To achieve Part M compliance, for ease of wheelchair access door thresholds should be a maximum of 15mm; the threshold should be chamfered or ramped.