Under fire safety regulations in England & Wales, fire doors are only required in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), although you may choose to fit them to certain rooms in a single-let property. In an HMO, all doors leading to a fire escape route must be fire resistant and close automatically. It is also advised that fire doors are fitted to rooms where the risk is greatest, such as the kitchen.
In some rooms, it may not be convenient to have a fire door constantly closed, so you can fit a door retainer to the wall, which holds the door open but releases it when the fire alarm sounds.
5 important features of a properly-installed fire door:
The door itself is made of solid timber and bears a label or plug confirming that it has been certified as a fire door. It will have an ‘FD’ rating showing how many minutes of fire it can withstand, the most common being FD30 (30 minutes).
- There is an intumescent seal around the edges of the door, which is designed to expand in the event of a fire to seal the gaps between the door and frame. Ideally, ensure there are cold smoke seals.
- The door frame is manufactured to the same standard as the door, to ensure it doesn’t quickly burn away.
- There is a properly-functioning closer attached to the door and wall, so that the door fully shuts on its own.
- There are at least three firmly-fixed hinges and suitable hardware (handles and locks) fitted on the door.
Any door on an escape route that locks – commonly the front or rear door to the premises - should also have a thumb-turn facility on the inside, so it can be opened quickly and easily without the need for a key.
Cost-wise, a whole FD30 fire door set – that’s the door, frame, hinges and overhead closer – may be around £300 (incl. VAT). However, if you’re able to get materials via a trade account and are buying in quantity, you should be able to bring the cost down considerably. A fire door alone will cost around £60 and a door retainer between £25 and £100.
In terms of lifespan, unless there is any damage, fire doors should last 20 years or more. As a matter of course, you should check the closers and hinges work properly on each periodical inspection, as well as making sure the intumescent strips are in good condition.