CORRECT INSTALLATION OF FIRE DOORS
In this article we are looking at the correct installation of fire doors to dwellings.
These articles reflect defects which are commonly picked up by FCM’s Clerks of Works during their site inspections.
Our Clerks of Works are your "eyes and ears on site", helping to get it right first time.
This CPD is for fire door sets unless otherwise stated in the article.
Correct Installation of Fire Doors
The first thing to take on board is that a fire door is not just another door but an engineered product that will only work as designed if installed exactly as specified in the fire certificate installation instructions.
Fire doors that are incorrectly installed and fitted with incompatible components invalidate certification and will not provide adequate protection for occupants or the building.
Fire doors are to comply with BS8214-16
Fire door regulations are set out in Part B of Building Regs. Their location and rating will be set out in the building's Fire Risk Assessment.
- Doorsets should be manufactured with a moisture content of 10-12% in line with BS EN 942:1996.
- Doorsets should be delivered palletised. Sufficient space for storage and distribution should be sourced and ideally all sets should remain on the pallet.
- Storage should be dry and as close to the finished sites environmental conditioning as possible.
- Doorsets should remain covered at all times during storage to avoid damage or discolouration by being exposed to ultra violet light.
The meanings of markings on the fire door label
Inspection prior to installation:
- The fire door label should be checked to ensure that it is the correct door and the serial number is the same as the fire certificate which will set out installation instructions.
- These must be carried out to the letter to avoid invalidating the certificate.
- All fire third party certificated fire doors should be supplied with installation instructions that are specific to the product. Installation methods and materials can change depending on a number of factors, including product type and installation environment and so it is vital that these are referred to and adhered to.
- Essential Ironmongery such as locks, latches, closers and hinges must be CE marked, firmly fixed with no missing screws and compatible with the door leaf’s certification.
Fire door fitted directly to metal stud without packers
If fixing to stud partition then full timber or fire rated plasterboard containment must be inserted prior to frame fixing.
Fitting should be undertaken by competent and trained individual. Installation of fire doors is as life critical as the product specification itself and should only be carried out by someone who is competent, has been specifically trained to install fire doors and understands their responsibilities in getting it right.
The installer should check components for damage before fitting. This includes leaf, frame, smoke and intumescent seals and ironmongery. The correct number of hinges should be used.
The gap between the wall and frame should be suitable to accept the frame. If it is a stud wall it should be either lined with plasterboard or timber.
The frame should be located in the opening and fixed with the specified fixings. These should penetrate the substrate by the amount specified in the certificate (ie 70mm) if the gap is oversized longer fixings may be required.
Packers should be used at fixings and should be hardwood or intumescent depending on the specified gap filler. Plastic packers are not usally allowed in the certificate fitting instructions.
Incorrectly used hardwood packer
Blue60 fire foam must have the specified intumescent packers - incorrect packers may invalidate the certificate
Fixings must be as the fire cert (ie 100mm from top and bottom and 500mm centres).
The door leaf should be hung and operating checks should be made prior to filling of the perimeter gaps between the frame and substrate.
Gaps between the frame and sides and top of door should be 3mm
Get a gap checker - this will avoid doubt
The door leaf should only require minor re-sizing to leave 3mm (plus or minus 1mm) to top and sides. The amount which can be planed is on the certificate installation instructions.
Only minor adjustments are allowed to the top edge as removal or damage of the label will invalidate the certificate.
Lipping and label to top of door removed - this is no longer a fire door
Doors on this site were ordered at wrong size. Installer just cut down the top
Holes for ironmongery (hinges) should have full depth pilot holes drilled to avoid splitting the frame. You will spot when this has not been done as the screws will invariably not sit straight and flush in the hinge.
Intumescent pads should be under both hinge blades if specified in the certificate.
Locks or latches should have intumescent coverings if specified and all fixings should have pilot holes. Fixings should not be overtightened to avoid splitting the leaf.
Intumescent seals must be removed prior to fixing the frame and re-fixed after to avoid damage
Intumescent mastic over a screw head will invalidate the certificate.
Intumescent and smoke seals should be fitted undamaged. Fixings must not be through the intumescent strips.
After fitting the installer should ensure that:
The door closes level and straight against the stops and frame.
The door closes into the latch in a controlled manner from all positions.
The door closes without catching on intumescent and smoke seals.
Smoke seals are present if required and undamaged.
The door closer should be the correct type and strong enough to close the door in a controlled manner into the latch or keep and stops.
Fire door closers to BS EN 1154 - https://www.uniononline.co.uk/en/site/union-online/standards-and-legislation/bs-en-1154/
The gap between door and frame at the top and sides should be 3mm ( or - 1mm) and the threshold gap as per manufacturers instructions (typically around 8-10 mm) – the certificate will include details of this. Gaps must be a minimum of 2mm to allow for the intumescent seals to expand.
If the door has a drop smoke seal it must fully seal the gap at the bottom of the door right to the edges.
Only after dimensional and functionality checks have been carried out should the backfilling to the perimeter be carried out.
Intumescent materials and/or mastic must be as specified on the certificate installation sheet.
Installers can NOT just use expanding fire foam.
Perimeter gaps must be filled as specified on the fire certificate installation instructions.
Most fire door certificated do not allow expanding fire foam as an edge sealant - it's use will invalidate the certificate
See FCM's CPD on frame edge sealants - www.fcmltd.co.uk/news/bitesized-cpd-60-minute-fire-doors-frame-edge-gap-sealants
Edge gaps must be fully filled with the specified material - no voids.
Never cut glazing apertures on site. Cutting apertures for glazing and air transfer grilles on site will invalidate certification. This should only be carried out by a certificated licensed processor.
See FCM's CPD on fire door alterations - www.fcmltd.co.uk/news/fire-doors-site-alterations
If you contractor has been allowed to fit a fire door blank into a compatible frame either under the contract or after a change request.
The door blank will still have a fire certificate and installation instructions.
The instructions will state the minimum required density of the frame and any glazing beads and how it is to be put together.
Below is a short video on fire door installation.
It has been difficult to obtain up to date data from manufacturers recently. The above is based upon information from various manufacturers and internet rersearch.
If you disagree with anything in the article or think I have missed anything that would make the article a better resource please let me know and I will update as necesary.
Fox Curtis Murray are a building consultancy specialising in providing Clerks of Works services and Quality Control inspections.
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