Have you ever seen a door with a sign saying, “This Door Must Remain Closed at All Times” and wondered… but, why?
It’s more than likely that this is a Fire Door, a building’s secret weapon against the spread of fire. When we think fire safety, we tend to think of active fire protection (AFP) products such as fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems. These products are designed to suppress a fire once detected based on building regulations. Fire exit door security, however, fall into a complementary category, known as passive fire protection (PFP).
PFP products include fire resistant doors, door frames, handles, locks, door closers and hinges to name a few. Many of these products are designed to be fitted to Fire exitoors, which are used to compartmentalise a building. When used correctly, these compartments prevent or slow the spread of fire from room to room. This allows more time for occupants to escape and limits damage to the structure of the building.
So… what’s all this got to do with security?
Well, Fire exit doors can’t resist fire all on their own! They need to be fitted with the correct locking products to do so. In more technical terms, Fire Doors must only be fitted with fire rated door hardware in accordance with AS1905.1.
It’s important to note that fire rated door hardware is often described as being resistant “up to” a certain number of hours. This “up to” refers to the fact that the resistance of fire door hardware varies according to the material of the Fire Door. In Australia, there are three manufacturers of Fire Doors that are used most widely. These include Pyropanel (as seen in below image), Firecore and E-Core. Make sure you check which brand of fire exit door you have before buying any door hardware, ensuring that it has the right integrity.
Some common security products used on Fire Doors include:
- Door Closers. Fire exit doors must be self-latching and self-closing. As such, all Fire exit doors must be fitted with a non-hold open door closer. Ensuring a fire door closes automatically is essential in controlling the spread of smoke and fire.
- Panic Bars. Panic bars (also known as crash bars) are to be fitted to all Fire Doors that also act as a final exit in public access buildings, such as theatres, where there is no prior knowledge of how the lock functions and panic may occur.
- Door Handles. The opening action of a lock/door must be either an emergency push pad or single-handed downward lever action. Internal knobs or turnsnibs are not permitted (for D2.21 and AS1428.1 compliance).
- Primary Locks. Only one lock per door is permissible in accordance with D2.21 compliance. This lock cannot feature key locking on the inside (egress side) of the door. Deadbolts are not permitted on a Fire Door
The recent one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London is a tragic reminder of what can happen when passive fire protection requirements are neglected or worse, ignored completely.
We recommend you consult with an accredited fire door fitter or locksmith before making any changes to the door hardware on a fire door. The cost of getting it wrong is too high.
If you would like to revisit all past door security articles, you can find the links here below: