Following the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower on 14th June 2017, in which 72 people lost their lives, a public enquiry was set up to investigate the fire. On 30th October 2019, the inquiry published its phase 1 report which included recommendations on changes to regulations to help ensure that a fire like the one at Grenfell Tower can’t happen again.
The updated regulations implement the majority of the recommendations made to the government in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report that require legislative change. Known as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, the new laws came into effect on 23rd January 2023. They broadly require that the responsible person(s) of certain residential structures notify their local fire and rescue service with information about their building.
These structures include high-rise residential buildings, residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height and any multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises. The regulations cover requirements relating to signage, floor plans and the maintenance of lifts and essential firefighting equipment, among others. In this blog, we’re going to be looking specifically at changes regarding fire doors.
What You Need to Know About Fire Door Ratings in 2023
As of 23rd January 2023, it is now legally required that the responsible person(s) for all multi-occupancy residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height in England carry out the following:
- On a quarterly basis, carry out checks on all fire doors in the common areas of these buildings, including self-closing devices.
- On an annual basis, carry out checks on all individual flat entrance doors, including self-closing devices, on a best endeavour basis.
Residents in applicable buildings should also be provided with information on how important fire doors are to the overall passive fire safety of a building, to help them understand their role in keeping their building safe, while also encouraging them to allow the responsible person(s) access to their flat entrance doors to perform these checks.
This information should be provided to new residents when they first move into the building, and to all residents on an annual basis. The information should cover the importance of keeping fire doors closed, not tampering with the doors or self-closing devices, and should stress that any damage or faults noticed by residents be reported immediately.
Fire Door Safety Checks in 2023
As a brief overview, the minimum the responsible person(s) should be checking for is any signs of obvious damage or disrepair. Specific checks should include:
- Checking that each fire door closes correctly around its entire frame.
- Checking that no alterations have been made to the glazing aperture or air transfer grille.
- Checking for gaps around the door frame itself.
- Checking that seals and hinges are correctly fitted.
- Checking the self-closing device is operating correctly.
- Checking that there is no visible damage to the door and the self-closing device, either deliberately or from wear and tear.
Generally, the responsible person(s) of a property should be able to carry out these checks themselves and may only need to involve a specialist when issues are discovered. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry noted that fire doors within the tower did not act as they should have to stop the spread of fire, smoke and gasses, due to damage and disrepair.
This information is provided to help interested parties understand the new rules. More in-depth guidance can be found in this government guidance document.
Types of Fire Door Ratings
When it comes to the installation or replacement of fire doors, they generally have the same features and should all meet the necessary safety standards. One of the only major differences from a passive fire safety point of view is the level of fire resistance each door is able to withstand.
To reflect this, fire doors are assigned an FD rating, and it is up to the responsible person(s) in charge of the property to determine which is appropriate for their building. The four most used FD ratings are:
- FD30 – fire doors rated to provide 30 minutes of fire resistance.
- FD60 – fire doors rated to provide 60 minutes of fire resistance.
- FD90 – fire doors rated to provide 90 minutes of fire resistance.
- FD120 – fire doors rated to provide 120 minutes of fire resistance.
FD30 doors are the most commonly used doors. They can provide a high level of protection if several are placed along a route, meaning the 30 minutes add up to a much higher total and significantly slow the spread of the fire along the route. This is commonly known as compartmentalisation, and it was the failure of compartmentalisation that is thought to have significantly contributed to the speed at which the Grenfell Tower fire spread, once it penetrated each floor.
Common Misconceptions About Fire Door Regulations
There are some common misconceptions about fire doors that we’ve heard over the years, which just go to highlight why the responsible person(s) of any residential block and indeed, any building at all, must educate themselves on the importance of fire doors, the latest fire door legislation and how fire doors actually work to stop the spread of fire. Only then can they perform the checks required to keep them in good working order.
- All doors are fire doors: One common misconception is that all doors can provide adequate fire protection. However, not all doors are designed and tested to resist fire, smoke and heat for a specific period, as outlined in the FD rating types outlined above.
- Fire doors can’t be attractive: Another misconception is that fire doors can’t be attractive. Aesthetics are never more important than saving lives, but fire doors can come in a variety of designs, finishes and materials to complement any interior design.
- Fire doors are expensive: It is often believed that fire doors are significantly more expensive than regular doors. While fire doors can cost more than standard doors, the additional cost is necessary to ensure that they meet the necessary safety standards and regulations.
- Fire doors are only necessary for commercial buildings: Many people believe that fire doors are only necessary for commercial buildings. However, fire doors are also essential – and legally required – in domestic properties, such as those mentioned above.
- Fire doors don’t need maintenance: Some people believe that once a fire door is installed, it does not require any further maintenance. However, fire doors should be inspected regularly to ensure that they are functioning correctly and that damage is promptly repaired.
The Role of Fire Doors in Passive Fire Protection: An Overview
Fire doors are essential in passive fire protection systems. They are designed to prevent the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases from one area of a building to another, providing occupants with valuable time to evacuate and firefighters time to arrive and control the fire. As mentioned above, fire doors work by compartmentalising a building, creating fire-resistant barriers that help to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
Fire doors are typically constructed of fire-rated materials, such as steel, gypsum board or wood, and they are designed to withstand fire and heat for a specified period. Every edge of the fire door or fire door frame is fitted with intumescent strips in a groove. When a fire starts, the intumescent strips expand to fill the gap between the fire door and the frame, sealing the doors.
They are often located in corridors, stairwells and other areas where a fire could quickly spread throughout a building. Fire doors must never be propped open, and we’re all familiar with the blue circles on these doors reading ‘FIRE DOOR KEEP CLOSED’. Fire doors can – and do – help to save lives and prevent property damage in the event of a fire. At FPC, we are experts in passive fire protection, and you can read our blog on the importance of fire doors for more information.
Fire Door Protection at FPC
Fire protection hinge and lock paper, also known as hinge and lock paper, is a type of paper material that has been treated with special chemicals to make it more resistant to fire. The most obvious benefit of fire protection hinge and lock paper is its ability to resist fire. This can help prevent damage to important documents or valuable items that are stored in cabinets or safes that use this type of paper.
By using fire protection hinge and lock paper, you can improve the safety of your home or office by reducing the risk of fire spreading. This can help protect both people and property from harm. Knowing that your important documents or valuables are protected by fire protection hinge and lock paper can give you peace of mind, especially if you live in an area prone to wildfires or other natural disasters. In some cases, certain businesses or industries may be required to use fire-resistant materials for their documents or storage solutions. Using fire protection hinge and lock paper can help you comply with these regulations.
A Face Fix Fire & Smoke Seal is a type of sealant material that is applied to the edges of doors to provide a barrier against fire and smoke. The primary benefit of using a Face Fix Fire & Smoke Seal is that it helps to prevent the spread of fire. The sealant material is designed to expand when exposed to heat, which can help to fill any gaps in the door frame and prevent flames from spreading.
In addition to preventing the spread of fire, a Face Fix Fire & Smoke Seal can also help to control the spread of smoke. This can be especially important in commercial or industrial settings where smoke inhalation can be a serious hazard. By reducing the spread of fire and smoke, a Face Fix Fire & Smoke Seal can help to improve the safety of people in the building. This can help to minimize the risk of injury or death in the event of a fire. In many countries, it is a legal requirement for certain buildings to have fire-rated doors and seals. Using a Face Fix Fire & Smoke Seal can help you comply with these regulations and avoid penalties or fines.
A letter plate liner is a type of liner that is installed in a letter plate or mail slot to help prevent the spread of fire between rooms. Fire resistance: The primary benefit of using a letter plate liner is that it helps to prevent the spread of fire between rooms. In the event of a fire, the liner can help to contain the flames and prevent them from spreading through the letter plate or mail slot.
In addition to preventing the spread of fire, a letter plate liner can also help to control the spread of smoke. This can be especially important in commercial or industrial settings where smoke inhalation can be a serious hazard. By reducing the spread of fire and smoke, a letter plate liner can help to improve the safety of people in the building. This can help to minimize the risk of injury or death in the event of a fire.
Fireproof letterboxes are designed to protect mail and other documents from fire damage. The many benefits of using a fireproof letter box are as it helps to protect mail and documents from damage in the event of a fire. Fireproof letter boxes are made from materials that are resistant to fire and can withstand high temperatures. Additionally to protecting against fire, fireproof letter boxes are also designed to be water-resistant. This means that they can help to protect mail and documents from damage in the event of a fire sprinkler system being activated.
Fireproof letterboxes can also provide an additional layer of security for mail and documents. They are typically made from heavy-duty materials and may include locks or other security features to prevent unauthorized access.
Fire Door Inspections: What to Expect in 2023 and Beyond
We hope this brief overview has helped you gain some understanding of why fire doors are so important, why the new 2023 fire door regulations are so vital and the duties of the responsible person(s) in ensuring they carry out their legal obligations in this area.
Violation of these regulations is a criminal offence if it puts one or more relevant persons – for example, residents, staff or visitors – in danger of death or serious injury in the event of a fire. Check your fire safety responsibilities if you are unsure of anything at all.
Remember to contact the experts here at FPC if you require further guidance or would like to talk about the range of passive fire protection products we supply.