Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, including public buildings and commercial premises. They are also a requirement in houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) and blocks of flats, and in some domestic properties.
The introduction of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 in January 2023 brought in new fire door responsibilities for Responsible Persons in multi-occupied residential buildings.
In this post, we will look at the various fire door requirements across the different types of building, and how veneered wood doors can be used to make fire doors look visually appealing, whilst remaining legally compliant.
Fire doors – what does the law say?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 stipulates that building operators in England and Wales should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to manage all fire safety measures, including fire doors.
This person could be the employer, managing agent or building owner, or some other appointed person. Legal responsibilities include a duty to reduce the risk of fire spreading within the premises, and fire doors play a pivotal role in reducing this risk in numerous buildings.
What fire doors are required?
The fire door required in your building will be determined by the fire risk assessment, which is down to the Responsible Person to arrange. A fire risk assessment highlights any fire risks, and sets out recommendations to minimise or eliminate these risks, including where fire doors should be used, and the ratings they should be.
Fire doors play a vital role in the passive fire protection system of a building. They are designed to contain a fire in an isolated part of the building, limiting damage and protecting escape routes to allow everyone to evacuate safely. This is a system known as compartmentation.
Fire doors are usually required in all doorways that lead to escape routes, as well as in rooms where there is a heightened risk of fire breaking out, for example in boiler rooms, server rooms or flammable liquid storage areas.
What are the regulations relating to fire doors?
Fire door regulations vary depending on whether the building is new or an extension, or is an existing building.
Commercial and public buildings
In commercial or public buildings, where the premises are new or have undergone a change of us, the Building Regulations Approved Documents apply. These ensure that all new UK buildings meet minimum construction standards, with fire doors being necessary in all commercial or public buildings.
Approved Document B contains an appendix covering fire doors and states performance requirements giving reference to British and European Standards.
New buildings, or those undergoing change of use, require fire doors to conform to BS 476-22:1987 or BS EN1634-1:2014.
Any material change or change of use to a building for which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 already applies must comply with Regulation 38, which states that fire safety information, including all details relating to fire doors and their installation, should be provided to the Responsible Person for that building.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005 applies to existing buildings and compliance is a legal requirement.
The Order applies to all properties, except private homes. It covers public buildings, workplaces, educational buildings, entertainment and leisure venues, premises used for voluntary or charity work, self-catering holiday accommodation, bed & breakfasts, camping and caravan sites, vehicles, aircraft, hovercrafts, tents and other moveable structures. Also covered are the communal areas of HMOs, blocks of flats and maisonettes.
Article 17 of the Order places requires the Responsible Person to ensure fire doors are “subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 introduced on 23rd January 2023 set out new fire door responsibilities for Responsible Persons in multi-occupied residential buildings.
Buildings over 11 metres in height are subject to the following regulations:
- Responsible Persons must check all fire doors in communal areas of the building at least every three months.
- Responsible Persons must check every flat entrance door within the building once per year.
In any residential building with two or more dwellings, Responsible Persons should provide all residents with information about the importance of fire doors.
Blocks of flats must have a fire risk assessment undertaken, as the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005 applies to communal areas in existing HMOs, blocks of flats and maisonettes. The risk assessment will detail which doors should be fire doors, and which fire rating each should have.
Building regulations Approved Document B2 stipulates a number of required standards for new buildings and conversions:
- Every flat within a block of flats or HMO must have a fire door fitted at the entrance to the communal area
- Flats located on floors which are 4.5m above ground level must have a fire rated door fitted between all habitable rooms, as well as the front door
- Ground floor flats do not usually require internal fire doors, providing each room has an accessible means of escape. They still need a fire door to be fitted at the entrance, however, if the front door opens onto a communal area such as a corridor.
FD30 fire doors are required for flats.
Most UK residential houses and bungalows do not legally require fire doors, although there are some instances where they are required under the Building Regulations:
- Any new build or home renovation with three or more floors must have fire doors fitted to every habitable room that leads from a stairwell. This applies to loft conversions where a floor has been added to a two-storey home.
- Any door leading into an integral garage must be a fire door.
FD30 (fire doors with a 30 minute fire rating) are usually sufficient for most residential requirements.
What do fire resistant doors consist of?
Fire door sets consist of various parts. The main door itself is usually constructed of solid timber. This can be veneered to produce an attractive finish that is consistent with the décor of the building, providing the veneering complies with the required standards.
Any glazing must be fire resistant, and the doors must function to control the spread of smoke as well as fire. Smoke seals need to be fitted carefully so as to avoid preventing the full closure of the door.
To prevent hot gases passing through any gaps between the door and its frame, the doors need to be fitted with what are known as intumescent seals. These are inactive until such times as they come into contact with heat, at which point they expand and seal the gap in order to contain fire and smoke.
Fire resistant doors must be fitted with automatic closing devices and when it comes to the hardware, everything must be fire rated standard. All fire doors must also be fitted with the appropriate signage, as per the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
What do FD30 and FD60 mean?
When closed, fire doors are required to provide resistance to fire or smoke for a minimum timeframe.
Standard timber construction fire resistant doors will usually offer 30 minutes of resistance and are known as FD30 fire doors. It is also possible to have doors that provide 60 minutes of protection, and these are accordingly known as FD60 fire doors.
Buying fire resistant doors
Because fire check doors are highly specialist, it is recommended that they are fitted from new rather than attempting to upgrade an existing door to meet compliance standards.
Read Veneers has been producing bespoke veneered fire doors for three decades. Whilst they are a legal requirement, there is no reason why they cannot look appealing and complementary to the interior décor.
We offer fire check doors and full door sets in a variety of finishes. Our veneered doors page provides more information, and you are welcome to get in touch for a tailored quotation.