Passive fire protection such as fire curtains and fire-rated doors might not be as visible or seem as impactful as active fire protection (e.g. fire extinguishers), but it is just as important for fire safety. A good passive fire protection system does wonders for the prevention of a fire and the slowing of the spread of a fire in an emergency.
What are fire doors and how do they work?
Fire doors fall into the category of passive fire protection. They are fully-functional doors that are designed to inhibit the spread of fire and smoke during an emergency situation. They do this by automatically closing (either due to the hinge design or by being connected to the fire alarm system) and through the fire-resistant construction of both the door itself and the door frame.
Fire doors help contain the fire and its damage as much as possible and give employees more time to evacuate in a less hazardous environment. In order to comply with Australian fire-safety regulations, fire doors must withstand the effects of a fire for at least 60 minutes. Because of this value that they provide, it begs the question, are fire doors a legal requirement in Australia?
The legal requirements for fire doors
The legal requirement for fire doors will depend on the type of residential or commercial building you are occupying. The specific standards are outlined within the Australian Standard AS1905, which details all the requirements surrounding fire-resistant doorsets.
Fire doors are mandatory in most commercial buildings, but even if your building is not legally required to have fire doors installed, you should consider it regardless due to their value in saving lives and reducing damage prior to emergency services arriving. Equipping the escape routes with fire doors should be considered a good minimum.
Regarding how many fire exits a building needs, the answer is at least two. Of course, though, given that fire exits are also designed to save lives, you should aim to have as many as possible. Larger buildings and buildings with many employees will definitely need more than two, and you'll find that having more than two fire exits will only help efficiently evacuate employees more in an emergency.
Types of fire doors
There are actually a few types of fire doors, each with its own special use. The best one for you will depend on your building and needs.
Glass fire doors
Glass fire doors are fire doors where a large portion of the door is glass. These doors are commonly found in office spaces, shopping centres and other businesses where seeing what's on the other side of the door is necessary. At AFC, our glass fire doors are fitted with a steel frame to make them fire-resistant.
Hinged fire doors
Hinged fire doors are much like glass fire doors, but made with fewer glass areas. Though they will still have vision panels installed in them, they are used in areas where less visibility through the door is needed.
Sliding fire doors
These fire doors are large panels in a track that uses a counterweight system to close when a fire is detected. Sliding fire doors are able to section off large open spaces and can be installed in areas with no walls or traditional doors, making them an excellent choice for warehouses and similar buildings.
Metal clad steel security fire doors
Metal clad steel fire doors are fire doors that are reinforced for added security. They are commonly found in buildings with sensitive information or objects in them.
While each type of fire door has its own distinct advantages and uses, you may find that a mix of door types suits your premises best, depending on the contents of the rooms in the building.
How cost-effective are fire doors?
Fire doors naturally cost more than regular doors, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth the investment (especially given the legal requirement to have them). Most fire doors operate exactly like the regular kind they replace and will be indispensable in an emergency.
Not only that but across the different types and materials available, Australian Fire Control has a fire door solution that suits your business and budget. And at the end of the day, life is priceless, and the cost of fire doors will always be outweighed by the cost of losing someone in a building fire.
How heavy are fire doors?
Regarding the weight of fire doors, you will find that it differs over the type of door. Hinged and glass fire doors will be light enough for people to manually open them easily during their day while sliding doors will be heavier. You can read more about the weight of fire doors here.
Maintaining fire doors
Maintenance of fire doors should be done regularly, in accordance with section 17 of the AS1851-2005. These regulations state that automatic fire doors need to be tested every three months and hinged doors every six months. This is to ensure all the components are in working order and that the door closes promptly when not held open.
Repair of fire doors should only be conducted by a qualified fire protection system servicing company and have their own Australian standards and regulations to be adhered to.
Where to source the best fire doors and fire door advice from
Fire-rated doors are an excellent way to slow the spread of fire and prevent smoke from spreading as well. Because of this, and the legal requirements to have a minimum number installed, it is important that you have a sufficient number of them installed and in working order in your building.
As experts in passive fire protection and fire protection equipment manufacturing, we can conduct a thorough fire risk assessment and provide fire safety installations to meet your needs. All our equipment is proudly made in Australia, and you can always rely on us to deliver the highest level of service.
So if you need top-quality fire doors installed, or if you need an appraisal of your premises to determine the ideal number of fire doors installed, get in touch with us today.