How Do Fire Doors Work?

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In the event of a fire, every second counts. Fires can spread rapidly and engulf everything in their path, so making an effort to contain and control them should be a top priority. This is where fire doors come to the rescue. Fire doors are specifically designed to withstand the intense heat of a blaze, providing a vital protective barrier that prevents the spread of flames and allows building occupants time to escape.


But how exactly do fire doors work? Luckily, the team at Pyrotec is here to help you with this comprehensive guide.


Are fire doors required by law?


Fire doors are a crucial element of any building’s passive fire protection system, playing a pivotal role in compartmentalising the building and containing the spread of flames. Fire doors are therefore required by UK law, with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 mandating all installation and maintenance standards. To comply with this legislation, all fire doors must be certified and tested to BS 476 standards. 


This Fire Safety Order also introduces the concept of a designated ‘responsible person’ who is liable for ensuring proper installation and regular inspection of fire doors. Failure to fulfil these obligations can result in severe consequences, including financial penalties or even custodial sentences in cases of extreme negligence.


Where should fire doors be located?


Every building has unique requirements and the number and location of fire doors will vary depending on the size, purpose and layout of the premises:


    • Non-domestic premises – Fire doors must be installed in all non-domestic premises across the UK. They should be strategically positioned to create either a horizontal escape route, leading to a fireproof area or a designated fire exit, or a vertical escape route, leading to a well-protected stairwell.
  • Mixed-use buildings – In mixed-use buildings where both commercial and residential spaces are present, it is important to install fire doors for all doorways that connect these different areas.
  • Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – Every HMO must have a fire door at the entrance of any communal areas. Additionally, in flats located 4.5 metres above ground level, fire-rated doors must be fitted between habitable rooms and the front door. 
  • Domestic dwellings of more than three storeys – Any new build residential property that has three or more floors must have fire doors fitted to every habitable room that leads from a stairwell.


So, how do fire doors work?


When a fire occurs, fire doors help to compartmentalise the building and limit its spread, allowing occupants time to evacuate safely. Fire doors work by combining several components which work together to provide optimal protection. These include:


  • Fire-resistant materials – All fire doors are constructed from fire-resistant materials and will be given a fire-resistance grading, usually FD30 or FD60. FD90 and FD120 doors are available where a higher level of protection is required. This grading represents the number of minutes that the fire door can withstand a blaze.
  • Intumescent seals – In the event of a fire, intumescent seals react to heat and expand to create a tight seal between the door and the frame. This blocks the passage of smoke and minimises the potential inhalation of harmful gases.
  • Self-closing mechanisms – All fire doors must be self-closing to ensure they automatically shut in the event of a fire to prevent its spread.
  • Fire-rated hinges – At least three fire-rated hinges must be fitted to every fire door. These hinges are specifically designed to remain in place despite extreme heat.
  • Fire-resistant glazing – Some fire doors are equipped with fire-resistant glass panels to ensure visibility whilst still providing necessary fire protection.


Pyrotec provides fire doors to domestic and commercial properties across Brighton, Eastbourne, Crawley and beyond. Every fire door we supply is made to the highest industry standards, and our BAFE-accredited team can perform a swift and efficient installation that will have your property compliant with all regulatory requirements in no time. 

Contact us to discuss our range of fire doors or book your installation.

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