How Do Fire Doors Work?

Fire-rated doors (commonly called "fire doors") play an important role in the passive fire protection of commercial and residential buildings. They are designed and built to resist the spread of flames and smoke in the case of a fire. By restricting the passage of fire and smoke in a building, fire-rated doors help create safe escape routes and delay damages to the building. In this article, we will answer the question "how do fire doors work?", and then take a closer look at the Australian regulations for fire-rated doors and the different types of fire doors on the market.

How do fire doors work?

When closed, fire-rated doors slow down the spread of fire and smoke. They can be installed in the internal walls or external walls of a building and will help compartmentalize the building to contain fire and smoke. Fire doors play an important role in creating safe passageways for people to escape the building. By slowing the spread of fire, they also give the fire brigade and emergency services more time to get to the scene and control the fire.

Can a fire door be kept open?

In order to stop the spread of fire and smoke, fire doors must be closed. Most fire doors remain closed at all times, unless an automatic closing device is installed. Fire doors should not be held open manually, for example by a doorstop or obstacle as this will compromise their ability to protect a building and its occupants in the event of a fire.

Automatically closing fire doors may be preferable in applications where there is usually a lot of traffic. Automatic fire doors are typically held open by a magnetic system. In the case of a fire, the door is signaled by a fire alarm system or smoke detection device and will close automatically. It is important that no obstacles are placed in front of the door at any time so that it can close and latch when required.

Australian regulations for fire-rated doors

In Australia, all fire doors must meet strict standards according to the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Not only must the door leaf comply, but the complete door set must be tested for compliance, including the frame and any associated hardware. Fire doors must have regular annual inspections to ensure they are complying with Australian standards at all times.

Fire ratings for fire door assemblies

Fire door sets are rated with a Fire Resistance Level (FRL) which indicates how well they can resist the spread of fire and smoke. FRL is given as three numbers, structural adequacy/integrity/insulation.

● Structural adequacy refers to how well a structural element can carry a load in fire conditions. Since doors are not structural building elements, they are not given a number for this category.

● Integrity refers to how long a fire door can resist the passageway of flames and gases in fire conditions.

● Insulation refers to how long before a fire door reaches a critical temperature when exposed to flames on one side.

For example, a fire door with an FRL of -/60/60 means the door succeeded in the integrity and insulation categories for 60 minutes. Fire doors must meet particular FRL standards according to the BCA for the type of building they are being installed in.

What are fire doors made from?

A fire door consists of the door leaf itself as well as the door frame and any associated hardware such as handles, locks and vision panels. Fire door sets can be made from a range of materials, most commonly:

Aluminium. This is a good choice for doors that need to be lightweight or for applications where a high standard of hygiene needs to be met. Aluminium also provides good weather protection for doors that are installed in external walls.

Steel. Steel is incredibly robust and strong, often outlasting the building it is installed into. In addition to high fire performance, steel offers excellent security.

Glass. Fire rated glass offers a number of benefits for modern building designs which want to retain a high aesthetic standard while meeting fire safety regulations.

Types of fire-rated doors

Fire-rated doors can be purpose-built to suit the specific application, whether that be in a hospital, school, office, apartment block or retail building. Below are some of the most popular fire-rated doors that we offer at Australian Fire Control.

Steel hinged glass fire doors. Hinged glass doors are aesthetically pleasing, offering crystal clear visibility. Steel frames are robust and durable and can be manufactured in a slimline profile to suit modern architectural designs.

Aluminium hinged glass fire doors. Hinged doors can be manufactured as single or double leaf doors. At Australian Fire Control, we use the aluminium framing systems by Aluprof which are lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and cost-effective.

Aluminium sliding glass fire doors. Sliding fire doors are ideal for applications where preserving space is a priority. They can be made as automatic single or double leaf doors.

Timber fire doors. Timber fire-rated doors can be manufactured to your specifications including double action doors and automatic sliding doors. See below for finish options.

Can you paint fire doors?

Fire doors can be manufactured with a wide range of finishes including PLY face and MDF face which are suitable for a paint finish. Other finishes include:

● Colourbond faced and capped at head

● Colourbond faced and capped all round

● Galvanised faced and capped at head

● Galvanised faced and capped all round

● Stainless steel faced and capped at head

● Stainless steel faced and capped all round

● Decorative veneer

● Decorative bolection moulding

Australia's leading fire door manufacturers

Australian Fire Control is the leading supplier of passive fire control systems in Australia, including fire doors. Whether you require purpose-built fire doors for commercial or residential applications, we can assist with manufacturing high-performance products which meet all Australian standards. Get in touch with our team today to see how we can assist.

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