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The Role that Doors Play in the Fire Safety Strategy of a Building

February 13, 2024

Despite the use of fire detection systems and smoke detectors, each year fires cause extensive damage to buildings worldwide. This is why, when designing a building, preventive fire safety is essential. Effective safety precautions can save lives.  

Fire-resistant doors are essential, but the door components used in their creation must also be considered. To guarantee safety, these must balance building code requirements with functionality and convenience. Local building codes and regulations determine how fire compartments should be designed in an emergency to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.  

In this piece, we'll examine the various uses of fire-rated doors as well as the benefits of utilizing dormakaba fire-rated door hardware. Ideally, door hardware should be tested with the door as a complete door set. By doing this you have a complete fire certified solution.

To better understand this crucial component of building protection, let's get started.  

Understanding fire-rated doors and their significance in the planning of building fire safety

Fire-rated doors are an essential component of fire safety planning in buildings. 

  • Depending on the type and rating of the door, they are built to withstand fire and smoke from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
  • Fire-rated doors can prevent or delay the spread of fire and smoke, allowing occupants to safely evacuate and reducing building damage in the event of a fire.

Many buildings, including commercial, industrial, and residential properties, are required by law to have fire-rated doors. They are typically installed in areas where fire and smoke can spread quickly, such as fire exits, stairwells, and corridors. Building owners and managers must ensure that fire-rated doors are installed, maintained, and inspected regularly to ensure proper operation.

dormakaba recognizes the importance of fire-rated doors in building fire safety planning. Their independently certified fire-rated door hardware is an excellent choice for architects and building owners looking to ensure the safety and security of their buildings. dormakaba has a variety of hardware including door closers, floor springs, locks, cylinders, lever handles, pull handles, hinges, panic hardware, accessories, seals and electrified hardware.   

These door hardware items are durable, tested, and certified to meet different international fire safety standards. They guarantee the ability to endure high temperatures, flames, and smoke for a set amount of time, acting as an efficient fire barrier. Additionally, the products are made simple to install and maintain and have a variety of choices to suit different door sizes and configurations. They also work silently and smoothly.

What ensures that products are fit for fire-rated doors?  

There are several marking regulations to take into account when selling or using fire-rated doors internationally. These specifications guarantee that the doors adhere to regional laws and safety standards. Here are a few of the labeling specifications for fire-rated doors used worldwide:

  1. CE marking: CE Marking is now mandatory for all products with a Harmonised Standard. Products distributed within the European Economic Area (EEA) must bear the CE marking, which is a legal requirement for conformity. This label certifies that the product satisfies the fundamental health and safety standards outlined in European Union (EU) law. For sale within the EEA, fire-rated doors must have a CE symbol.
  2. UKCA marking: Products sold in the United Kingdom (UK) must bear the UKCA marking, which serves as a conformity evaluation mark. This label certifies that the item complies with the fundamental safety, health, and environmental protection standards outlined in UK law. For sale in the UK, fire-rated doors must bear the UKCA symbol.
  3. UL marking: Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a worldwide organization that certifies products' safety through testing and certification. To comply with local laws, fire-rated doors used in the US might need UL certification.
  4. AS/NZS certification: The Australian and New Zealand standards (AS/NZS) are a group of standards that detail the specifications for different goods. Operated fire-rated doors in Australia or New Zealand may need AS/NZS approval to abide by local laws.
  5. Third-party testing: To make sure that fire-rated doors adhere to regional laws and safety requirements, in addition to the above markings, third-party testing may be necessary. Third-party testing can give building owners and occupants peace of mind by guaranteeing that the doors are secure and compliant.

On fire-rated doors, these labels ensure that the doors satisfy the fundamental safety standards for fire resistance, durability, smoke control, and hardware. 

  • The markings show that the doors have undergone testing and certification by a third-party notified agency. This is a guarantee that they will function as intended in the event of a fire, and aid in halting the spread of fire and smoke throughout the structure. 
  • It is important to make sure that fire-rated doors have the proper marking since it proves compliance with the applicable laws. It gives the assurance that the doors have been examined and found to fulfill minimum safety standards. 
  • Doors that meet the required standards are assigned a performance classification, which indicates how long the door can withstand fire and smoke.

Standards Requirements

Fire-rated doors and door hardware must meet specific standards to ensure their efficacy in stopping the spread of fire and smoke in an emergency. These requirements differ by country or region, but they typically include the following:

  • Fire resistance rating: Fire-rated doors must have a particular fire resistance rating. The rating is based on the door's ability to keep fire and smoke from spreading to neighboring areas.
  • Testing: Mandatory certification requirements! The door and hardware are usually subjected to extreme heat and pressure to simulate a fire and measure their performance.
  • Installation: To ensure that fire-rated doors and door hardware work correctly in the event of a fire, they must be installed by specific guidelines and requirements. This includes correct framing, hardware installation, and finishing touches.
  • Materials: The materials used in the manufacture of fire-rated doors and door hardware must satisfy specified fire resistance and durability standards. The door core, for example, is usually made of fire-resistant materials such as steel, gypsum, or mineral wool.
  • Labeling: To ensure that fire-rated doors and door hardware are readily identifiable and meet standard requirements, they must be labeled with the appropriate fire resistance rating and other relevant information.

The importance of specifications when choosing fire-rated doors

The specific needs of the building and its occupants are an important consideration when selecting fire-rated doors. This includes the door's size and location, the level of fire protection required, and the type of hardware and accessories used.

It is critical to specify the correct fire-rated door to ensure that it provides the necessary level of protection in the event of a fire. This necessitates knowledge of the variety of fire-rated doors available and if they match the regulatory standards.

Application of fire-rated doors, including auto sliding doors and auto swing doors

Fire-rated doors can be used in many applications. They are frequently installed in stairwells, hallways, and places where valuable machinery needs to be protected such as mechanical, electrical, and server rooms. 

  • Use of door closers on latched fire doors: the door closer must be able to return the door to the latched position.
  • Opening and closing force limitations for door closers: the door can be opened with very little effort by pushing/pulling so that it can be easily used by children/elderly/disabled people.
  • Free swing door closer uses: these allow fire doors to be left open at any angle as they are linked to a fire alarm and will close automatically when activated.
  • Hold-open door closers/electro-magnets: these enable fire doors to be left fully open to allow easy access. For example, to enable the free movement of trolleys/wheelchairs in hospital corridors. These are also connected to a fire alarm and will close the doors on activation.
  • Prevention of using emergency exit/panic doors: it is advisable to use regular doors for entry/exit under normal conditions. 
  • Automatic doors: automatic doors used on fire escape routes should either be sliding or swing doors. Revolving doors are not appropriate in a high-risk situation.
  • Auto Sliding Doors: should be connected to a fire alarm to allow auto opening on activation. These should also feature a backup power supply should the electricity go down during a fire.
  • Auto Swing Doors: these should be capable of being pushed outwards in the direction of the escape route.
dormakaba's fire protection solutions   

The company's fire protection solutions aid architects to design buildings that are both visually stunning and compliant with fire safety regulations. To create better fire protection solutions, the company is working on the following:

FIRE COMPARTMENTS: Designed to prevent fire and smoke from spreading within a structure in the event of an emergency. 

They are constructed with fire-resistant materials and components and tested to ensure that they meet specified fire safety standards. The fire compartments act as barriers, containing the fire and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the building, allowing the occupants to safely escape.

Image: Double-leaf fire door with 180° opening.

SMOKE COMPARTMENTS: To contain smoke within a specific area.

Smoke compartments are usually made by using fire-resistant walls and doors with smoke seals. The goal is to provide secure and clear evacuation routes for building occupants while also allowing firefighters to find and extinguish the fire. 

COMPONENTS FOR FIRE DOORS: Fire and smoke prevention doors must be self-closing to ensure structural fire safety. Overhead door closers, floor springs, and swing door drives can all help to guarantee a smooth closing. 

When choosing fire-rated doors, it is critical to consider the hardware and accessories of the door itself. Door closers, for example, are designed to ensure that the door closes properly should there be a fire. Panic bars, handles, locks, and hinges are examples of fire-rated door hardware and accessories.

Benefits of using dormakaba fire-rated door hardware in building fire safety planning  

dormakaba fire-rated door hardware provides several advantages for building fire safety planning. This hardware is built to offer superior fire protection, high levels of security and durability. 

Some of the key advantages of using dormakaba fire-rated doors are as follows:

  • Observance of applicable regulations and standards.
  • High fire resistance: In the event of a fire, dormakaba fire-rated door hardware is made to endure high temperatures and stop the spread of fire and smoke. This gives residents crucial time to leave the structure safely.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Has a broad range of finishes and styles, making it possible for architects and designers to select hardware that harmonizes perfectly with the building's overall design.
  • Durability: dormakaba fire-rated door hardware is made to endure rigorous use while continuing to deliver dependable performance over time, lowering maintenance and replacement costs.

How is dormakaba's Safe Route for Building Fire Safety planning a game changer?

Architects and planners constantly strive to create visually appealing structures that are also secure. However, finding a balance can be tricky, especially when it comes to fire safety compliance. dormakaba's SafeRoute provides the solution. This product assists architects in creating beautiful and secure structures that meet all relevant fire safety regulations.          

SafeRoute is an innovative emergency exit and escapes route system that is rationally tailored to its operating conditions. This implies that with SafeRoute, you can take advantage of the new licensing model (mini, basic, and standard), in which you only pay for the safety functions that are required. You are given the flexibility to renew your license according to your building requirement, without making changes to your existing hardware.   

And how does SafeRoute operate? 

A network of sensors, beacons, and displays is used by SafeRoute to build an intelligent navigation system. 

  • The beacons broadcast signals to direct residents to the closest exit. 
  • The sensors detect the presence of people in the building and track their activities. 
  • The displays offer visual signals and details regarding the incident, such as where the fire is located or how far along the evacuation route is.

The flexibility of SafeRoute to adapt to various building configurations and emergencies is one of its main advantages. Whether it is a small office building or a huge commercial complex, the system can be tailored to meet the unique requirements of the structure. To offer a thorough emergency response, Safe Route can also interact with other building systems like access control and fire alarms.

 SafeRoute benefits:
  • More flexibility as a result of the new licensing model.
  • The system can be tailored to your specific requirements at any moment through license expansion.
  • High security, quality, and dependability standards.
  • An intelligent light ring display simplifies installation and commissioning. It also improves service quality by allowing for simple identification of system status or faults.
  • Easy wiring thanks to the enhanced DCW® bus interface.
  • Power can be provided from any point on the system bus.
  • Sturdy surface-mounted housing with light metal framing, available in a variety of color combinations.
  • Simple alarm reset via the non-locking emergency button.

dormakaba provides all SafeRoute escape route security system components from a singular source, whether opening, closing, or controlling. The adaptable modular system ensures that the appropriate module is always available, from simple individual solutions to networked versions for a range of doors, and from standard responses to individual expansions.

With dormakaba's products and expertise, you can be confident that your building is safe and up to code. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services.

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