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Fire Precautions in Dwellings

Guidance on the Fitting of Fire Doors and Frames

Proper installation is integral to fire door performance. It is one of the final and, arguably, most crucial stages of the work carried out on fire doorsets.

As manufacturers and suppliers go through the extensive and committed process of having their doors and components rigorously tested in accordance with the latest standards, the installation procedures become ever more important to ensure that the fire door remains fully reliable.

The correct installation of fire door assemblies and doorsets is fundamental to their overall performance because it will ensure the fire door will remain reliable to its fire integrity rating in the event of a fire.

A fire doorset is correctly installed in the furnace when it is tested, so therefore it must be installed correctly on site so that the door will perform in the same way when needed. Incorrect installation defeats the purpose of certificated fire doors, certificated components, and certificated hardware because in a fire, the smoke, and gases it produces can easily travel through the gaps left by incorrect installation. A certificated half hour fire door which is incorrectly installed may only provide 5-10 minutes of fire resistance.

To avoid risking people's lives, BWF-CERTIFIRE manufacturers (who account for 90% of all fire doors manufactured in the UK) provide specific and comprehensive installation instructions with every door which must be rigorously followed by the installer.

Installation instructions are specifically written for each door design in accordance with its relevant fire test.

Note: Installing fire doors is not a standard task, it is a specialised task.

The advice in the installation instructions just takes a moment to read and even though installers may have been fitting fire doors for years, the instructions will inform the reader of detail specific to that door. More importantly, it will offer that peace of mind to the installers and will result in fewer site difficulties.

As fire door designs are constantly changing, correct installation has become ever more vital. Not following the instructions can prove fatal in the event of a fire and will invalidate the certification because installation is the last stage of the entire certification process.

If you come across a BWF-CERTIFIRE certificated fire door that - for whatever reason - does not have these installation instructions, then you should speak to the site manager from where you obtained the door or contact the manufacturer of the fire door; details can be found on the label stuck on top of the fire door leaf.

If there are no instructions, you may be installing a fire door that has not been third party certificated. The BWF recommends that you contact the manufacturer of that fire door and obtain instructions direct from them.

Ideally, a non-certificated fire door should not be installed where a fire door is necessary, and it is highly recommended that you change your supplier to obtain fire doors manufactured under the BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door and Doorset Scheme.

The BWF is committed to supporting FIRAS, the third-party certification Scheme for the installation of passive fire protection products. Members are trained and taught how exactly to install a fire door. All certificated FIRAS Installers are obliged to stick a unique and fully traceable label on every fire door they install (this is also an excellent source of marketing for the installer).

Note: For further information please see the British Woodworking Federation website

Fire Door Specification Summary

In addition to the fire door and door set being third party certificated and installed by a competent person a full Fire Door must also be of the following specification:

  • Attached to the door frame by three 100mm Butt hinges with a melting point of not less than 800°C.
  • Fitted with intumescent strips and flexible edge smoke seals which must be fitted to the sides and top of the door or frame to be effectively smoke stopping.
  • Intumescent strips and flexible edge smoke seals must be fitted centrally to the sides and top of the door or frame. They are not required to the threshold.
  • For 30-minute doors (FD30S), a single 10mm combined strip and seal should be fitted; this may be interrupted by the hinges.
  • For 60-minute fire doors (FD60S), either a single 20mm combined strip and seal, or two 10mm combined strips and seals may be used. At least 10mm of the strip must be uninterrupted by the hinges.
  • The combined strips and seals must not be painted over.
  • Automatic overhead type self-closing device fitted to the door / frame set, which can close the door from any open position (Gate Springs, Gibraltar Springs and Perco type door closers will not be acceptable).
  • Where a postal slot is to be fitted, it must be of a type that has been successfully tested to BS 476: Part 22: 1987. The slot should not be sited higher than 1,000mm from the threshold of the door and not less than 120mm from either edge of the door leaf. The slot created for the liner of the postal slot should give a contact fit with the liner. Where the gap is greater than 1mm it must be filled with intumescent material.

Fire Door FAQs (courtesy of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF))

How do I obtain a manufacturer's test certificate for the door?

Obtaining a certificate for a fire door will only be necessary if manufacturer's certification labels are missing. The label on the door provides information such as the Certifire Certification Test Number, the manufacturer's name, and unique door number. If a certificate is required, it can be supplied by the door manufacturer, licensed converter, or from the Certifire Website.

How much can I trim off a fire door to make it fit into the frame?

The amount which can be trimmed off a fire door depends on how the door is constructed and is defined by each door manufacturer. The information is shown in the fitting instructions which accompany each door.

Can I use MDF linings and casements for my fire doors?

There is an increasing use of fire rated MDF linings and casings in construction. You must, however, refer to each door manufacturer's test evidence before use any non-standard framing material.

Note: not all fire door manufacturers have test evidence to support the use of MDF products across the whole of their range. Evidence may be restricted to one type of door only.

Can I upgrade my existing doors to be fire resistant doors?

The simple answer is no.

Although solid wood doors do have some resistance to fire, you cannot be certain how the old doors are constructed, the density of the timber and how other components such as closers etc. interact with the overall installation. To be perfectly safe, you should replace the door and frame.

The use of retardant or fire-resistant paints is not recommended.

What gap should be at the bottom of a fire door?

Although gaps at the bottom of the door are allowable to provide clearance for floor coverings, there is a limit as to how large the gap should be. This is defined by the manufacturer's test evidence and is shown in the fitting instructions which accompany the door.

Why can't I cut apertures or vision panels on site?

Removing any material from a fire door will affect its fire performance. Replacing the material with a glazed or non-glazed aperture requires an engineered solution to ensure the door's performance in a fire is not compromised. This work can only be carried out to strict procedures and under controlled conditions which cannot be undertaken on site.

Can I reglaze a fire door on site if the glass is broken?

Glass can be replaced where necessary. However, the glass must be fire rated to suit the door and must be fitted using the same components as the original installed door. If you have any doubt about these components or procedures, contact a BWFCertifire Approved Licensed Converter who will be able to assist.


Last modified on 29 November 2023

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