New Fire doors with Escape locks
A mid Devon residential care home for the Elderly, had 2 issues. First, the Fire Risk Assessment had highlighted the need for new bedroom doors to FD30(S) specification, secondly the inspection body recommended lockable doors. The Proprietor was not keen on lockable doors as a number of his clients were frail and or suffered from arthritis so might struggle with a locked door. I recommended an escape mortise lock, fitted with an internal thumb turn lock on the inside of the door along with being on a master key system. If a client wished to lock themselves in their room, by operating the door handle, this would unlock (only from the inside) the door as well. The doors were fitted with the approved for fire door escape locks all to FD30(S) specification and to make the doors easy to use for his client group, the Proprietor had electric door closers fitted by his Fire Alarm Company so that the doors would be swinging free unless the Fire Alarm activated, which would then activate the closers and ensure the doors closed and latched shut. thus satisfying all requirements.
Pair of Fire Doors
A Torbay Hotel recently refurbished had an outstanding issue flagged up by the Fire Risk Assessment. The issue revolved around a pair of doors on a half landing on the main lobby staircase. The existing doors on the landing were not compliant, either in size or design. The proprietors were concerned over the finished look but were also aware that standard fire doors, off the shelf, were not feasible because of the size issue. The only option was to create new fire doors from a ‘cutable’ fire door blank. Then the ‘look’ was an issue, so as being in a corridor/staircase the doors had to have glazing viewing panels. The proprietors decided on tall narrow apertures with clear pyro fire protected glazing centrally located in the doors. This gave ‘a look’ that was unlike any factory produced door and all compliant with the required FD30(S) specification required in the Fire Risk Assessment.
A young Lady purchased a small Flat in a block with rented out and owner occupied flats. The management Company advised of various requirements of the Fire Risk Assessment that applied to her flat including the front door. The front door had started life as a Fire door leaf. However the previous occupiers had cut a hole in the existing front door for a cat flap and not protecting the core of the door and when fitted, the door had been ‘adapted’ to fit the existing door frame. This rendered the door not compliant. A new door was required along with a new door liner all to FD30(S) specification.
Block of Flats 1, Torbay
The Fire Risk Assessment in a Torbay block of flats flagged up that each Flat had a service cupboard that housed a gas meter and opened into the common escape stairwell. The doors on them were only thin plywood. The Fire Risk Assessment recommended the doors to be FD30(S) specification. However as these were small cupboard doors (18″ x 36″) it was not possible to purchase doors of that size off the shelf. So the new doors were made from specialist cutable fire door leafs, fitted on fire door hinges, with cold smoke intumescent strips and a Chubb security lock fitted with intumescent protection. All to FD30(S) specification.
Block of Flats 2, Torbay
From a block of luxury flats built in the late 70’s, the Fire Risk Assessment recommended the front doors that fronted onto the main escape route be upgraded with cold smoke intumescent strips, new fire door hinges and be made self closing. The management Committee were concerned for some of the flat owners who had become frail and elderly, even one being wheelchair bound. A door closer would make it very difficult for them to use the door. So after a number of consultations a multifunction closer was decided on. The particular closer suggested by myself had a torque function and also a holdback function. So an elderly resident could arrive at the door with shopping, put it down, unlock and open the door, pushing it back, the door would stay at that position for about 20 seconds, enabling the resident to pick up the shopping and walk through unhindered, with the door closing and latching behind them. The torque setting was also turned back so that the door had not become too heavy to open.
Regular maintenance is required to ensure Fire Doors always operate to keep staff and clients safe, shutting and latching correctly ensuring a safe working environment.
The time between inspection will depend on the usage the doors get. Abacus recently attended an existing customer which was a specialist Residential Care home were some of the communal doors have heavy usage, being hit and damaged by wheelchairs and trollies regularly. So much so the doors did not close correctly. The hinges had worked loose which required the hinges to be refitted by drilling out screw holes plugging with wooden dowels, the Cold smoke intumescent seals had been damaged which required replacing. This was after a period of 2 years. I would recommended a regular inspection of doors in this instance at monthly intervals by staff, which would help to catch problems early on.
Door closers normally operate for years with little problems or maintenance, however as they get older, especially in high traffic areas then there are tell tale signs that they are coming to the end of their operational life. Tell tale signs include a small amount of oil leaking from it (usually dribbling down the back of the door or pooling on the floor, this will show as the door probably with start slamming shut as the hydraulic pressure is decreasing in the unit and not able to control the spring inside the unit. What also can cause the hydraulic seal to fail in the unit is if the door is forced shut by Staff and clients, this can throw the hydraulic pressure in the unit. Also, another sign is for it to be difficult to adjust on the adjustment screws that control the closing action. Normally at this stage the unit is not repairable and so it means a replacement unit.
Specialist Fire Doors for School
Abacus Property Services won a contract in early 2015 to install the above Specialist Fire Doors in a Torbay School. The Fire Risk Assessment had flagged up the issue of excessive travel distance in a long corridor. There were existing pairs of Fire Doors of the same design in the corridor forming compartments, all to the above design. As luck would have it, there was an existing substantial door frame in a suitable position from an older incarnation of the building. The work involved sourcing and fitting the right color laminate to match the existing doors, creating and fitting matching glazing panels with approved Fire glazing, set in intumescent seals and held in place with fire check hardwood beading again to match the existing doors. The doors themselves were an ‘odd’ size, so they were formed from Fire Door blanks that could be cut down to the required size with hardwood lipping fitted. Matching door furniture was sourced and the doors fitted with cold smoke intumescent heat seals. All to FD30(S) specification.
Fire Doors and Hydraulic Closers
Abacus Property Services strongly recommend overhead Approved hydraulic closers for Fire Doors. They offer far more safety and control over the way the door closes. As the doors were in a corridor where children may be in a rush at times! some thought and discussion was needed for the correct closers to chosen and fitted. It was decided to fit heavy duty 5 function closers. The door was required to be able to be pushed open and then the door to stop still for 15 to 20 seconds and then to start closing slowly, with a light snap shut with the latching action. So enabling the users of the corridor to anticipate the behavior of the doors and no dangerous slamming.
Above the Fire Doors you will see a narrow glazing transom. This was fitted with ordinary domestic glazing. This had to be removed and Approved Fire Glazing fitted in intumescent seals and Hardwood baton. This was required to complete the compartmentation break in the corridor.
Purpose made Fire Doors
Abacus Property Services recently concluded a contract in Plymouth to upgrade 65 existing Listed/Historic doors to FD30(S) Fire Door specification. The Building was part Residential and part Administrative. The Fire Risk Assessment flagged up the doors as needing to be upgraded under the current legislation. Most of the doors could be upgraded with a Fire proofing paint system which is dependent on the doors being in good sound condition, size and thickness of the Styles, bars and panels of the doors, plus the addition of proper fire door hinges, cold smoke intumescent heat seals and approved hydraulic closers. The existing locks and latches were fitted with intumescent protection. There were also a small number of doors that had warped due to the use of wedges. These were replaced with purpose made fire doors to the existing style, design and size as shown on the left.
The action of a door being wedged with a hydraulic closer trying to close the door, especially in an older more damp building, will often result in the door warping or twisting and so not sitting in the door jam correctly, usually resulting in the need to be replaced. The operators of the building intended to change to approved hold back devices that were fixed to the door at the top of the door so that the tension created by the closer would be a straight pull and would not ‘twist’ the door.
The general principle of compartmentation is to ensure that if there were to be a fire in a particular area, then the minimum time the fire is contained is generally governed by the rating of the door. There was also a small amount of compartmentation work that included blanking off a sash window in a corridor with fire line plasterboard and sealing a machinery room of wiring looms with intumescent collars and sealing plasterboard joints with intumescent mastic.