David Robinson

David Robinson

Fire doors and compartmentalisation

Compartmentalisation of a building is a crucial part of its fire safety design: breaking down a building into smaller spaces that will contain fire and stop it spreading. One of the key challenges when designing a fire compartmentalisation scheme opening into the walls of the compartments, ie doorways, need to be able to maintain that compartmentalisation.

Approved Document B, Volume 2 (2019) defines a fire compartment as: “A building or part of a building comprising one or more rooms, spaces or storeys constructed to prevent the spread of fire to or from another part of the same building or an adjoining building.”

Of course, a correctly fitted and functioning fire door can help to suppress a fire by restricting the amount of oxygen available to it and will restrict the spread of fire – a closed fire-resisting door is designed to endure direct attack by fire for a specified period of time. This should slow and check the spread of fire through the building, gaining time for active fire protection resources to perform. It will also protect escape routes and continue to provide protection for fire fighters entering the building.

Essential Elements

So when is a door a fire door? Some items of door hardware are essential to ensure that the fire-resisting door stays closed in its frame in a fire emergency including:

  • pivots or hinges: to attach the door onto the frame and help prevent bowing in the event of a fire. Single axis hinges should be CE marked to BS EN 1935
  • door closing device: such as an overhead closer or floor spring to ensure that the door closes reliably and stays shut.  Controlled door closing devices  should be CE marked to BS EN 1154
  • latch/lock: in some cases, a latch or lock takes on the role of holding the door shut (in lieu of the door closing device). Locks and latches should be CE marked to BS EN 12209 (2003)


Operating furniture such as lever handles are also of great importance and it is recommended that they be tested to BS EN 1906

Other hardware to be used on fire doors, when not covered by a harmonised standard should have been included on a successful fire test to BS 476 22 or BS EN 1634-1

Please note that CE marking will be replaced in Great Britain to UKCA marking from 1st January 2022.

These items must be carefully selected by an architectural ironmonger to ensure that they will perform as they should in a fire. Most other items of building hardware on the door like fixed knobs, spy holes, letterplates and the like perform a function not directly associated with its fire performance (“non-essential”), but they must in no way impede or reduce the door’s ability to withstand the fire and must be fitted in exact accordance with the door’s test evidence or certification data sheet. 

The configuration of a fire door is an important consideration – is the door single or double leaf? Does it swing only one way or both? The configuration has an important impact on the hardware used, so the fire test report or certification data sheet must show the doors were tested in the configuration specified for the project. 

Complicated isn’t it? And the consequences of getting it wrong – potential loss of life and property, fines, even imprisonment – are significant to say the least. That’s why it’s vital to consult a properly qualified ironmonger, like the team at Em-B who can guide you through the process of making sure that the fire doors on your next project are compliant and safe.

Fire Doors
Fire Doors

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