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Firefighter’s tips for fire doors

Learn about fire doors and the standards you need to make sure a property you own or manage meets.

From London Fire Brigade

What do you need to know?

What are fire doors and why do they matter?

Fire doors are a really important element of your fire safety strategy. Used correctly, they stop fires from spreading through a building, giving people time to escape and the Brigade time to attend and potentially save your premises. If a fire door is properly made by a BWF certified manufacturer, with compatible parts, and certified by an accredited third party, it should hold back a fire for 30 minutes or more.

Getting the right fire doors in place is an important responsibility, though you will also need to consider fire detection and sprinklers.

The components of a door – hinges, seals, handles and glazing – are as important as the door itself. This is because, in a fire, doors can warp, move and allow smoke and fire through the opening. The seals and the gaps between the door frame and the wall are really vital too. They also stop smoke and fire spreading as quickly.

Why do you need to provide fire doors?

They are specifically designed to withstand fire for up to 30 minutes.

They are a legal requirement for flats which open onto communal areas shared with other tenants. This is to make sure crucial escape routes are protected if a fire breaks out.

They are designed to automatically close behind you in the event of fire, holding flames back and stopping the spread of the fire and toxic smoke into escape routes, corridors and other flats in the block.

Did you know?

Property owners are required by law (The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) to make sure premises reach required standards of fire safety.

Are you a tenant?

Read our fire door advice for tenants, and find out how to check if your fire doors are safe

Who is responsible for fire doors?

If you are responsible for a property, it’s likely that you need to make some fire safety precautions to keep the people who use it safe. This includes almost all buildings, places and structures other than individual private homes – that’s individual flats in a block or family homes. Property manager’s responsibilities include shared areas in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), blocks of flats and maisonettes.

What about old doors – are they OK?

There is a difference between modern fire doors and their requirements and older type doors, often called ‘Notional fire doors’. These doors may have been in place for many years and met earlier standards of manufacture and legislation. However, this doesn’t mean that they are now not fit for purpose, providing they are still in good condition they will still provide the service for which they were intended.

Modern doors are equipped with what’s called intumescent strips and cold smoke seals. Older ‘notional’ doors may not have these fitted, and are often fitted into frames with a 1 inch or 25 mm door stop. The ‘notional’ door may be suitable in place if it is not warped or gapped to the extent that it requires replacement, its replacement will be a modern style fire door. Where doors are replaced that are required to be fire resisting they should not be replaced by ordinary doors and the person replacing the door should ensure that the door is a fire door.

Can I have a window in a fire door?

Absolutely, yes. Some fire doors are fitted with glazing – what’s termed a ‘vision panel’, these are subject to the test procedure when constructed and you are not allowed to retrofit glazing by cutting the door unless this is done by a door specialist, the BWF-CERTIFIRE scheme will be able to provide further information if this is a requirement.

Hygienic door handles

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, you might be considering installing hygienic door handles. As long as these handles do not compromise a fire doors integrity or restrict the use of an escape route, they should be fine to use. If you are unsure, check with the accredited professional who you have asked to install your fire doors for more information.

Hinges and letter boxes

Fire doors will have at least 3 hinges with a melting point above 800 degrees centigrade and apertures for glazing and for letter boxes should be in place at testing. Arson Reduction letterboxes are available as a retrofit to the existing aperture and can be made available form the London Fire Brigade in certain instances – you can find out more here.

Firefighter’s tips for fire door installation and use

​There are some simple must-knows when it comes to fire doors and their safe use and installation:


  • Get accredited professionals to install your fire doors.
  • Check your door’s certification – look for British Standard (BS) Parts 22 and 31 or BS EN 1154.
  • Make sure there are combines smoke and fire seals around the door.
  • Check the handles close properly.
  • Make sure that seals and other components like letter boxes are fire-safe too.
  • Make sure you have appropriate door closure mechanisms – the wrong ‘closers’ can physically damage frames and hinges through slamming, as well as causing injury to the people who use the doors.


  • Prop them open or let your people prop them open – doors can save lives if they are shut.
  • Install fire doors yourself – the components and seals are as important as the door itself.
  • Let tenants replace fire doors if your building is a block of flats.
  • Remove the self closing device fitted to the door.
  • Leave damaged doors in use – always have them repaired or replaced ASAP.

    How often do I need to get fire doors checked?

    It depends on your circumstances. Though BWF-CERTFIRE Best Practice Guide suggests every 6 months, we believe that a risk-assessed approach is also appropriate for many. However, if your building is a hotel, or is home to anyone who might not be able to quickly respond to or escape from a fire, 6-monthly checks are essential.

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    Frequently asked questions:

    Our 30 minute fire doors (FD30) are 44mm thick

    Our 60 minute fire doors (FD60) are 54mm thick

    The amount that can be removed from the edges of a fire door differs from one door to the next and depends on several factors, including the exact materials used during construction and guidelines from the fire rating certificate. Accurate trimming information can only be provided by the manufacturer on a case-by-case basis after the door has been completed.

    There are no set rules that detail how long a fire door lasts before it needs to be replaced. The condition of the door should be monitored and checked at least every 6 months to ensure it is in good working order. Fire doors should comply with the latest fire door regulations and so it is important to keep up to date with any changes in regulations which may mean your doors are no longer fit for purpose.

    All our fire doors satisfy the DDA regulations.

    In order to calculate the weight of a fire door you will need to know the weight per square meter (kg/m2) of the doors core. This is determined using the thickness of the door as follows: 44mm = 55kg 54mm = 75kg The calculation below can be used to determine the approximate weight of the fire door. Please note that the calculation does not take glass weight into account. Width X height X thickness X kg/m2 of the door's core = Weight of fire door. For example for a door that was 926x2040mm with a thickness of 44mm the following calculation would give an approximate weight: 0.926 X 2.040 X 0.44 X 55 = 45 KG.

    Yes, fire door seals can be fitted to either the door or the frame Double doors or door and a half fire doors will need to have fire door seals fitted to the door to ensure that the gap between each leaf is taken into consideration.

    The closing force rating of fire door closers, also called "power size", relates to the maximum width and weight of fire doors that the door closer can reliably close and hold closed.

    Whilst it is possible to fit self closing hinges to a fire door, Safelincs does not recommend their use as they slam the door quickly.

    Fire doors should never be propped or wedged open as the fire door would not be able to close in the event of a fire. A safe and legal solution to holding open fire doors is to install a fire door holder also known as a retainer. Fire door retainers can be easily installed onto existing doors and allow the door to be held open at any angle. They comply with regulations because when the fire alarm sounds, the door retainer releases the fire door to close, preventing the spread of fire. Fire doors should never be propped or wedged open to improve ventilation.

    Cutting the bottom off a fire door could threaten the integrity of your fire door and could put lives at risk. If you need to increase air circulation in your building the best option is to hold your fire door open with a fire door holder or free-swing door closer. These are legal solutions that enable a fire door to be left open but will activate the automatic closing of the fire door on the sounding of fire alarm, preventing the spread of smoke and fire.

    Yes, in some cases you can make alterations to your fire door, however these alterations can only be done if they remain within the scope of the fire door's Certifire Approal documents. For example when a fire rated door viewer or intumescent letterbox / letter plate is required. This information should also be detailed in the installation and maintenance instructions supplied with each door leaf. It is critical that any changes made to a fire door is done so following the manufacturer’s instructions, by a trained professional, and with certified hardware to ensure that the performance of the door, and it’s associated certification, is not compromised. BWF-Certifire have created a guide on how to ensure you retain your Fire Door Certification when considering making alterations.

    Yes, intumescent fire seals are required on all fire doors. Newer doors and frames have a channel cut into them for rebated seals (if not supplied with seals already in place). For older doors, surface-mounted seals can be used instead. Please note: some of our seals have brushes on them, which are designed to block the spread of smoke around the door before ambient heat has caused the intumescent seals to expand and fill any gaps – these are usually required on doors, so make sure a competent person has performed the appropriate fire risk assessments or fire door inspections before purchasing.

    Fire doors must be used in walls which form the compartmentation of the premises – specific areas within the building that are constructed to be fire-resistant. These may be individual rooms, but could also contain multiple rooms or might be vertical risers and lift shafts. Fire-rated doors are not required for walls not part of a compartment boundary. Additional fire doors can be installed in place of normal doors, but they would provide minimal protection as the walls around them may not be constructed of especially fire-resistant materials and could burn through while the fire door remains intact. There is a risk of occupants gaining a false sense of security if fire doors are installed in non-compartment walls, so this should only be done under the guidance of a proper fire risk assessment conducted by a competent person. Please consult the original building plans, if available, to determine where your premises' fire compartments are, or otherwise have a competent person perform a fire risk assessment or fire door inspection.

    Regulations state that fire doors should self-close completely and reliably. They do not however need to bang or slam shut. The reason for the slamming is usually due to the fire door closer having an incorrect closing speed or power size. Many self-closing devices can be adjusted so that the door will close correctly without slamming shut. Other issues including a loss of fluid or improper fitting could be causing the issue. It is also possible to fit self-closing devices with a latching action which close the door quickly at first and then stop it from slamming by closing the last few inches slowly. It is advisable to have your fire door closer maintained and altered by a competent person.