Fast and efficient evacuation in the event of a fire is crucial. Here, Dominick Sandford, Director and Head of Merchandising and Marketing at IronmongeryDirect highlights the key regulations and requirements for fire doors as well as considerations for fire safety and exit signage.
Making an informed decision on fire door hardware and safety signage is critical, as these are lifesaving pieces of equipment. The wrong specification can have catastrophic effects in the event of a fire. There are several aspects to consider to ensure products are fit for purpose:
Fire door hardware
In England and Wales, Approved Document B of the Building Regulations provides guidance on mitigating fire risks in all areas of the building and states that fire doors must be self-closing, fitted with a closing device and must also be CE marked and certified to demonstrate they are fit for purpose.
Door closers should comply with BS EN1154 Controlled Door Closing Devices and be CE marked to this standard. The product must have a Declaration of Performance (DoP) from the manufacturer to validate the CE mark. For further compliance, closers that are CERTIFIRE Approved should only be considered, as fitting a non-approved product to a CERTIFIRE door will invalidate its certification.
Gaps around the door must not be so big that smoke and flames could pass through the space. As a rule of thumb, to check if the door has been appropriately sealed, gaps around the door must be less than 4mm on the sides, and up to 8mm maximum below the door.
In addition to the above, intumescent seals are required around the door or frame, and these must be in good condition. When exposed to heat, these seals will expand to fill gaps around the door to trap smoke and flames and prevent the danger spreading beyond the door.
Hinges must also be properly maintained, as only a properly fitted fire door will function as intended. Therefore, there must be a minimum of three sturdy hinges with all screws intact placed on each door.
Signage is another aspect that must not be overlooked and must comply with building legislation. BS9999:2017 “Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings. Code of Practice” notes that “fire safety signs and signing systems form an integral part of the overall fire safety strategy of a building”, and that “clearly visible and unambiguous signage is essential for speedy escape, particularly in buildings where many of the occupants might be unfamiliar with the building layout”.
There are a number of basic rules to comply with legislation:
- Escape route signs should take precedence over all other signs.
- All changes of direction in corridors, stairways and open spaces that form part of an escape route should be marked.
- Signs should be positioned so that an evacuating person will always immediately see the next sign to guide the escape route. This also means signs should not be fixed to doors or sited where they could be obscured by opening doors.
- Additional signs should be provided where the line of sight to the next sign is either impaired or exceeds the recommended maximum viewing distance.
Signs are to be installed at a suitable height, taking account of any obstacles and in an easily accessible and visible location. This is what is known as the signs’ “required zone of influence” – defined in BS5499:2013 “Safety Signs. Code of Practice for Escape Route Signing” as the “space in which the safety message intended to be conveyed by a safety sign is effective”.
As this zone is determined by location, size and position, users should look towards BS5499:4 for calculations on how to properly place signs.
The design of the sign itself must also meet regulations laid on in BS5499 – for example, fire escape signs should be the green and white sign that many will recognise, with a pictogram including a “rapidly walking man” passing through a door accompanied by the word, “Exit”. Building owners, landlords and safety managers should familiarise themselves with full set of sign design requirements laid out in the regulations regarding colour, size and text to ensure compliance.
All under one roof
To help business overcome some of the complexities of fire safety legislation, IronmongeryDirect has released a Fire Door Infographic as a visual reference guide to the requirements for fire doors and hardware and a useful fire protection guide, that provides more detail on legislation and compliance.
In addition, IronmongeryDirect has a wide choice of door closers, signage and fire control products stocked among its huge range of over 18,000 products – all of which meet building legislation.
To find out more visit www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk.