Fire Safety in blocks of flats Â– Fire Resisting Doors Â– Pt 14
Last week’s blog introduced the subject of fire resisting doors in blocks of flats and looked at the current benchmark standards for a fire resistant door. This week, we continue on this subject and consider fire resistant doors which adhered to previous standards and the necessity for appropriate action in those cases.
We established that current standards require doors, which are a part of the protected entrance halls and stairways within individual flats, to be 20 minute fire resistant doors, which are known as FD20.
Doors which are contained within the protected escape route from the flat entrance door to the final exit point of the block, including the flat entrance door, should be 30 minute fire resisting doors with smoke seals, which are known as FD30S. A FD30S door will have intumescent strips and cold smoke seals fitted along its side and top edges, or within the frame. Letter boxes include intumescent materials to protect the opening.
Flat doors which were installed prior to the current benchmark standards may not have all of these features. For example, an original flat entrance door may not have the intumescent strips, cold seals and protected letterboxes and may instead have incorporated door stops as a measure of smoke control, and the self-closing mechanism may rely on rising butt hinges.
However, it may not be practical or desirable in each circumstance to upgrade each door to an FD30 or FD30S as appropriate throughout. Each case must be considered on its own merit and can be affected by conditions such as where an unprotected letterbox is situated within the door, where the flat is situated within the block and how the letterbox itself is constructed.
As a testing of existing doors would normally require actually exposing them to a fire situation, which is not practical, the following solutions can be considered:
- The doors can be accepted on the basis that they met the standards at the time of construction or installation, are in good condition and fit well within their frames.
- The doors can be upgraded to some extent by the fitting of intumescent strips and upgrading of letterboxes to FD30S standards.
- The doors can be replaced by new FD30S doors.
Of course, in the case of option two, it would not be sufficient to merely apply these upgrades to thin panel doors or those which are not of a suitably robust construction and it should be accepted that applying those upgrades would not make the door as fire-resistant as a FD30S door.
It is recommended that specialist advice be taken on the best and most appropriate course of action for accepting/upgrading or replacing fire resistant doors within a block of flats.
Next week’s blog will continue looking at fire resistant doors and will look specifically at self-closing mechanisms and benchmarks on doors dependent upon building type. In the meantime, if you have any queries about a project or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
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