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Key Considerations when specifying fire door closers

Key considerations when specifying fire door closers

Selecting the right fire doors and hardware is a crucial step in ensuring buildings are equipped to the highest fire safety standards. Here, Graham Hulland Product Manager at specialist access and security provider dormakaba, explains the main requirements to consider when specifying door closers.


Fire doors are the first line of defence against the spread of smoke and fire. With the right products, installation and maintenance, the safe evacuation of occupants and prevention of fatalities can be achieved. Door closers are a key component of the reliability of a fire door and there are several factors to consider to ensure these products are compliant and fit for purpose.


Legislative requirements

The first criteria to look at is compliance with Approved Document B of the Building Regulations in England and its equivalent standards in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This requires fire doors to be fitted with a self-closing device, capable of closing the door from any angle and against any latch fitted to the door. This device must comply with BS EN 1154 for controlled Door Closing Devices and be CE or UKCA marked to this standard. It must also have a Declaration of Performance (DoP) which details the characteristics of the product and without which, the CE or UKCA mark is invalid.


To achieve a CE or UKCA mark, the product needs only one fire test which needs to be conducted to BS EN 1634-1. However, this does not provide enough information about its suitability for use on a fire door, such as whether the door closer is rated for timber or metal, whether the test performed under a latched or unlatched scenario, the closer application and the length of the test – all of which are crucial in ensuring compliance.


As such, it is important to only consider fire door products that have been verified by a third-party testing body such as the CERTIFIRE certification scheme. This further level of product testing importantly provides detail on both the mechanical performance and fire performance of the product and will detail the product’s suitability for different door types and installation options. This offers assurance as well as details on restrictions that could affect the integrity of the product.


Occupant accessibility and the Equality Act

It is impossible to specify fire doors and hardware without taking occupant accessibility into account. Whilst it does not reference door closers specifically, the Equality Act 2010, states that the physical features of a building – including fixtures, fittings and equipment – must not restrict access to anyone. Therefore, door closers must have enough power to close the door and keep it closed in the event of a fire, yet not to the extent that the door cannot easily be opened by any group of users, such as children, the elderly, and disabled people. The Building Regulations Approved Document M and BS8300 outline the maximum opening forces for doorsets and general door closer requirements. Meeting the opening forces with a compliant door closer will satisfy the requirements for ease of access set out within the 2010 Equality Act.


A solution to this challenge is to specify variable power door closers. These allow the closing force to be adjusted to suit on-site demands, making them a versatile and easy to use option. This is the approach recommended by BS8300, the Code of Practice for designing buildings to create an accessible and inclusive environment.


Use of the building

For sites utilised by persons of limited mobility and/or where high or differing volumes of footfall occur, a door operated by a door closer to self-close might create a barrier to access, such as in healthcare facilities where beds and wheelchairs are frequently moved around, or in schools where large numbers of students move throughout the building between classes. When the fire door becomes a nuisance in cases like these, there is a risk that it will be propped open, rendering it useless in the event of a fire. For this reason, alternative approaches must be considered.


A useful solution is a ‘hold-open’ door closer device that will keep the door open during normal use, allowing people to move freely inside the building. These are specifically designed so that once a fire alarm is triggered, the device instantly reacts to the alert by releasing the door to close it, ensuring that safety is never compromised.


Alternatively, specifiers can choose a door closer with a free swing function. This enables the door to be opened and closed with minimal force during everyday use but delivers safe automatic closing in the event of fire or power loss by using an electro-hydraulic mechanism.


Selecting fire doors closers is a critical step in ensuring buildings offer the highest safety levels possible. The legislation can seem quite complex, therefore, working with manufacturers who can advise on the best solutions that can provide the highest quality, compliant systems is of utmost importance.


To find out more about dormakaba and its range of door closers, visit

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