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Decoding Fire Door Requirements For Communal Areas in Flats

In the realm of residential safety, the importance of fire doors cannot be overstated. With urban living on the rise, fire door requirements are paramount in ensuring the safety and well-being of flat residents. Doors within communal areas of a flat are significant in acting as the first line of defence for protecting residents against a sudden fire outbreak. Unlock the intricacies of fire door requirements in flats, explicitly focusing on communal areas with our detailed blog. 

What is a Fire Door?

A fire door is a crucial component of a passive fire protection system. Fire doors provide a level of fire resistance that standard doors cannot offer. They are manufactured to withstand fires for as long as possible. A certified fire door will receive a fire-resistance rating, marking the length of time it can compartmentalise a fire. FD30 and FD60 doors offer 30 and 60 minutes of fire resistance, respectively.

Components of a Fire Door

A door and all its components must be fire-rated to offer the advertised resistance. The following features of fire doors are critical in maximising safety:

  • Frames - Ideally, the door frame should be purchased alongside the door, ensuring they meet the same standard.

  • Intumescent Sealant - Between the door and frame, there will be an intumescent sealant. This sealant is a putty-like substance designed to swell upon contact with heat, filling the gap between the door and frame to retain any smoke in one room. These seals come with a fire-resistance rating, which should match the rating of the door and frame.

  • Hinges - Hinges play a crucial role in protecting the integrity of a fire door. A timber fire door should have at least 3 hinges, whereas steel doors require 4 hinges. For an FD30 rating, steel or brass hinges should be used; for an FD60 rating, steel hinges must be used.

  • Closers - By law, fire doors must be self-closing. Closers must be fixed to all doors, ensuring they fully close after someone passes through. There are two types of closers for fire doors. Overhead closers are positioned above the door and can be adjusted per the size and weight of the door. In comparison, the concealed closer offers the same functionality but is built within the door and wall for aesthetics.

  • Vision Panel - Not all fire doors contain a vision panel, but they are more prominent in communal areas. Fire-rated glazed glass must be used in a fire door. This glass should withstand extreme heat conditions for at least 60 minutes before softening.

  • Handles and Locks - All door accessories, such as handles and locks, must also be fire-rated. Locks and latches must be CE marked and comply with BS EN 12209; this compliance indicates the suitability of the locking mechanism for fire-resisting doors.

  • Panic and Emergency Exit Devices - Fire doors should be fitted with one of two devices designed to enable rapid door opening in the event of a fire. Panic exit devices are typically horizontal bars that members of the public can easily use in an evacuation. Emergency exit devices are usually levers or push pads designed for use by trained personnel during a fire.

Fire Regulations in Flats

In the UK, fire doors are legally required in residential premises with at least 2 storeys as per The Fire Safety Act 2021, which acts under the scope of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Fire Safety Order identifies the fire safety regulations that must be implemented in domestic properties such as flats to reduce the risk of a fire outbreak. 

The Order states that a responsible person, such as a landlord or a building manager, must be appointed to navigate fire protection measures in a building. A responsible person must:

  • Conduct a regular fire risk assessment

  • Install fire doors and fire equipment

  • Carry out the necessary maintenance or repairs to maximise the premises' and residents' safety. 

A responsible person must arrange an inspection of their fire doors at least every 6 months to ensure that they can still provide the best level of fire protection possible. After the Grenfell Tower incident, The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 declared that for flats above 11m, the responsible person must conduct quarterly inspections on fire doors.

Fire Doors in Communal Areas

Flats Above 4.5m

Approved Document B and the Fire Order carve out the need for fire doors to separate individual flats from communal areas. For flats above 4.5m, there must be an FD30 door that divides each flat from a communal area, such as corridors, stairwells, and lobbies. These doors must be tested to ensure all their components are fire-rated and each part can provide at least 30 minutes of protection.

Flats Above 11m

For flats above 11m in height, it is recommended that FD60 doors be installed in every habitable room to provide an extended period of fire protection for those situated on higher floors. These doors give residents more time to escape or stay put in anticipation of the emergency services' arrival. 

Placement of Fire Doors

Fire doors will compartmentalise the fire so that residents can escape via a designated route, either horizontally or vertically. This route is determined by a risk assessment that will analyse the safest way to evacuate a building in the event of a fire; fire doors should be strategically placed to aid the journey from each flat to the exit.

Flats on the ground floor do not need fire doors if they have a means of escape, as per The British Woodworking Federation (BWF). This means of escape must be directly from each room via a door or a window. Responsible persons should consult an inspector about whether their flat requires communal area fire doors and on which floors to avoid facing legal charges if fire safety regulations are not fully met. 

Communal Flat Fire Doors FAQs

Do shared houses need fire doors?

Landlords must install fire doors if their property is a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO). All communal doors must be fire-rated to ensure a safe escape for residents. For single-let properties, there are no fire door regulations. However, installing fire doors in high-risk rooms such as kitchens may be beneficial.

How do you tell if a door is a fire door?

There are 4 steps you can take to identify a fire door:

  1. Check for a certification mark or a label on the top edge of the door 

  2. Inspect the gaps around the edge of the door; the gaps should be less than 4mm when the door is closed

  3. Look for intumescent seals around the edge of the door or frame

  4. Check if at least 3 hinges are securing the door to the wall

Can I install my fire door?

It is recommended to hire a qualified fire door installer to install your fire door as if a fire door is not correctly installed, it may fail to provide the level of fire resistance that it is supposed to.

Explore Communal Fire Door Requirements with LFS

At LFS, our team has extensive knowledge of fire safety regulations and experience installing fire protection measures in domestic and commercial buildings. We appreciate that fire safety is paramount for flat residents; our range of fire doors will provide the utmost protection to give you peace of mind. Our team can tailor your communal area fire doors, ensuring the service you receive is unparalleled. Fire protection is at the core of our mission, so don’t hesitate to contact us today with your fire door needs.

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