Security vs Fire Safety: Choosing the right lock for your fire doors

A review undertaken by Fire Door Inspection Scheme in 2015 revealed that over 61% of fire doors inspected had problems with fire or smoke seals, 230 fire doors inspected had gaps bigger than 3mm between door and frames and almost 1 in 6 had damage to the door leaf.

These are frightening statistics given that fire doors are a crucial part of passive fire protection in every commercial, public and multiple occupancy building. Which is why Codelocks have decided to support Fire Door Safety Week 2017, running from the 25th September until the 1st October. The initiative is intended to encourage building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their fire doors and raise awareness of the consequences of poor installation and maintenance.

In the UK alone around 3 million new fire doors are bought and installed every year, yet they remain a significant area of neglect, either mismanaged, badly maintained or often downgraded due to cost.

Whilst the lock is commonly seen as the most secure part of a door, when it comes to fire protection, it can quickly become the weakest element. Damage to locks can compromise the fire doors effectiveness, whether that be through general wear and tear or bad fitting.

 

Choosing the correct lock for your fire door

It’s a common myth that any lock can be fitted onto a fire door. The truth is that only a correctly fitted, compatible and fire tested lock, to European standard BS ENwill protect the door leaf. If a door is fitted with incorrect hardware it may not perform to the required standards, leading to poor performance in a fire.

 

Security or Fire Safety?

Article 14 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) requires doors to be easily and immediately opened by anyone who may use them in the event of an emergency.

However, this makes access control increasingly challenging.  How do you manage access control whilst ensuring it doesn’t prohibit regulations?

Codelocks offer a range of smart locks to suit the issues that building managers face on a day to day basis. Wireless technology allows building managers to choose between keyless, smart card and smartphone access. Once installed the addition of an audit trail allows building managers to see who has passed through a door and whether the door is closed . This is useful for fire doors which have been propped open, helping building managers comply with regulatory requirements.

 

Release functions

When security is in conflict with an easy exit, the alarm release feature on Codelocks smartlocks can be connected to a buildings alarm system, automatically freeing the lock for 30 minutes without the code in an emergency situation. This is often a requirement in public buildings and allows for rooms to be quickly checked in the event of an emergency.

 

Fire proofing existing locks

For those who already have a lock fitted, a Fire Kit, consisting of intumescent seals can easily be added to most existing mechanical and electronic latch locks. Intumescent seals provide the lock with a minimum of 30 minutes fire protection by sealing any gaps around the perimeter of the fire door or within the lock itself, expanding to protect the lock and stopping smoke escaping during a fire.

 

Fire door essentials

Here are a few things you can check to ensure your fire door is safe. These items ensure that the door leaf stays closed within its frame in a fire emergency. All items should be CE marked, along with third party certification.

  1. Hinges – Check hinges for wear, any dark marks could indicate impending failure and signify that the hinges should be replaced as soon as possible. Make sure they are firmly fixed with no broken screws.
  2. Door closure – Check that when released at halfway the door closes fully, the door should overcome any latch or seal.
  3. Gaps – Gaps around the tops and sides of the door should be less than 4mm when closed, and generally no larger than 8mm under the door, if you can see daylight then the gap is too big!

 

More details on our full range of coded door locks can be found here.

Alternatively you can call our technical support team on 0800 393405 who will be happy to talk to you about your specific access control requirements.

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