Fire Door Inspection Checklist: What to Look for and Why

Fire Door Inspection Checklist: What to Look for and Why

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Fire doors play a crucial role in the safety of any building during a fire emergency. They are a part of the passive fire protection system and help to prevent the spread of flames and smoke, allowing people to evacuate safely. By compartmentalising the building, fire doors slow down or prevent the spread of smoke and fire, reducing damage to the property and buying time for the Fire and Rescue Service to arrive. Regular fire door inspection is essential to ensure fire doors function properly and providing the necessary protection. As per the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the person in charge of a building is expected to take reasonable steps to protect life, including maintaining fire doors and undertaking fire door inspections. Learn about this and more in our fire door inspection guide.

Properly functioning fire doors can make a significant contribution to the fire protection of a building and can save lives. While it is recommended to have a professional inspect fire doors, regular checks can also be done by building occupants. To assist with this, this fire door inspection checklist or guide has been created to help you ensure your fire doors are in good working order and ready to protect in case of an emergency.



Signage

Signage plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of individuals during a crisis situation. Fire door signage, in particular, is not only a legal obligation but also a useful safety feature. It is important to ensure that fire door signage is in the correct place and has not been tampered with. Emergency exit signs are also essential in directing people to the nearest escape route and highlighting emergency exit doors.

When it comes to fire safety, all fire doors should have a sign indicating that they are fire doors, while certain doors are required to have special labels attached to them. These doors may be directly connected to a fire alarm system or used to protect building services. The label serves as a reminder that these doors are specifically designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, and should not be propped open or obstructed in any way.

Signage also acts as a reminder to keep fire doors closed or locked, as well as to keep items away from them while emphasising the importance of these vital barriers. Signage must be installed on both sides of the door. By raising awareness of fire doors and emergency exits through signage, individuals can be better prepared to navigate a crisis situation.

Fire Evacuation Strategy

Check for proper certification and labelling

When inspecting a fire door, the first thing to check is its certification and labelling. Look for a label on the top or hinge side of the door that indicates it has been tested and certified by a recognised agency. The label should also show the door’s fire rating, which indicates how long it can withstand exposure to fire and heat. Without proper certification and labelling, the door may not be able provide adequate protection in the event of a fire.

Fire doors are given an FD rating based on how long they can withstand fire. For example, an FD30 fire door can offer 30 minutes of protection, while an FD60 fire door can offer 60 minutes of protection. The FD rating is assigned after the door undergoes stress testing in conditions specified in British Standards 476 part 22:1987. The most common integrity ratings are:

Check for proper certification and labelling

When inspecting a fire door, the first thing to check is its certification and labelling. Look for a label on the top or hinge side of the door that indicates it has been tested and certified by a recognised agency. The label should also show the door’s fire rating, which indicates how long it can withstand exposure to fire and heat. Without proper certification and labelling, the door may not be able provide adequate protection in the event of a fire.

Fire doors are given an FD rating based on how long they can withstand fire. For example, an FD30 fire door can offer 30 minutes of protection, while an FD60 fire door can offer 60 minutes of protection. The FD rating is assigned after the door undergoes stress testing in conditions specified in British Standards 476 part 22:1987. The most common integrity ratings are:

  • FD30 – 30 minutes
  • FD60 – 60 minutes
  • FD90 – 90 minutes
  • FD120 – 120 minutes

Inspect the door and frame

When conducting a fire door inspection, it is crucial to thoroughly examine both the door and frame for any indications of damage or wear, such as warping or swelling. Frame damage or warping can occur over extended periods of time and should be checked regularly. Additionally, ensure that the fire door frame is firmly attached to the wall and free from any damage.

Inspect the door for cracks, holes, or dents, as well as any damage to the frame or hinges. Any damage to the door or frame can compromise its ability to provide protection in the event of a fire, so it is essential to address any issues as soon as possible.

Verify that all seals are correctly installed and intact according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These intumescent seals should show no signs of wear and tear, should be securely attached to the groove that runs along the door frame, and must run continuously around the entire door-set. The only exception is where the hinges are fitted, in which case intumescent strips should be installed behind the hinge plate.

Intumescent seals

Intumescent strips are an essential component of fire doors, as they prevent the spread of smoke and fire from one side of the door to the other. These strips rapidly expand when exposed to heat, creating a seal that helps to contain the fire. For maximum effectiveness, the strips should be continuous around the door frame and securely attached to the groove.

It’s important to ensure that the strips are in good condition and not worn or damaged, as this can compromise their ability to slow the spread of fire and smoke. While it’s acceptable for intumescent strips to have up to 5 layers of paint, it’s best to avoid painting over them whenever possible.

Ensure the door closes and latches properly

During a fire door inspection, it is crucial to check that the door is able to close tightly and latch securely. A properly closed door should fit snugly against the frame without any gaps or spaces that could allow smoke or fire to pass through.

The latch should also engage fully and hold the door firmly in place. If the latch is loose or does not engage properly, the door will not be able to effectively prevent the spread of fire and smoke, putting occupants at risk.

Clearances and gaps

To ensure the safety of occupants in case of a fire, it is crucial to inspect fire doors for any gaps or spaces between the door and the frame. These gaps can allow smoke and fire to spread, putting lives at risk.

A gap gauge should be used to measure the clearance around the perimeter of the door, including the top and bottom. Ideally, the gaps around the top and sides of the door should be less than 4mm (i.e. 3mm +/- 1mm) and the gap at the bottom should be less than 10mm (i.e. 8mm +/- 1mm).

It is also important to check for any gaps or spaces around the door hardware, such as the lockset or hinges, as these can also compromise the door’s effectiveness. If excessive gaps are found, intumescent strips, such as these 1mm thick graphite coloured strips can be installed to narrow the gap. It is important to note that while adding wood is not acceptable, adding intumescent strips may be an acceptable solution.

Hardware and accessories

In addition to checking for gaps and spaces, it’s important to verify that the door’s hardware and accessories are in working order. This includes the lockset, latches, hinges and any other components that are necessary for the door to function properly. Make sure that the door closes and latches securely, and that the hinges are properly attached, not loose and operate entirely as intended. Pay careful attention to any wear and tear, looking for any metal fragments, dust or worn hardware as this must be replaced immediately.

Check that any automatic closing devices, such as door closers or spring hinges, are functioning correctly and closing the door completely. If any hardware or accessories are damaged or not working properly, they should be repaired or replaced immediately to ensure the door’s effectiveness in the event of a fire.

“Hold open” devices are designed to hold the door open in normal conditions and release it allowing it to close in the event of a fire or fire risk. These can be either hard wired into the alarm system or sound triggered. It is vital that as part of the regular maintenance the link to the fire alarm or sound trigger is tested to ensure the door releases. Again, look out for wear and tear and ensure it is securely attached to the door and frame.

Door closers are an essential requirement on any fire door that must be “kept shut”, so it’s vital that these devices are regularly checked and maintained. Check that the fire door closer is CE marked, and securely fixed to the closer body and frame. Check that all the fixings from the door closer body into the door are present and secure. Test to see whether the door closes correctly from a wide and narrow opening angle ensuring it overcomes the latch if fitted. Typically this is tested using a “big swing” (open to around 90 degrees) and a “little swing” (open approximately 8cm) with doors taking a maximum of 25 seconds. When closed, be certain that fire doors are fully and tightly shut, and that the smoke seal is doing its job effectively.

All fire doors should have 3-4 hinges fitted (depending on the material of the door) and should be installed using all of the originally provided screws. Changing the screws would be noted as being an inconsistency and flagged on the fire door inspection report. Hinges take most of the wear when it comes to doors, so check for metal fragments, oil leakage and other signs of wear. Fire door hinges should be marked with a CE stamp and must be suitable for the FD grade of the door. Typically hinges are installed 200mm from the top and bottom edges of the door, with the middle hinge being fitted equidistantly. Note that a 4th hinge is fitted to a metal fire door; typically 250mm below the centre of the top hinge. Again, intumescent pads must be fitted behind the hinges, rather than fitting directly onto the wood.

Mortice locks and latches must also be fitted with intumescent protection to maintain the integrity of the fire door.

Some fire doors are in constant use, while others are designated for use only in an emergency. Should the fire doors in your care feature emergency exit devices, these must be CE marked to ensure they have the correct accreditation and also be tested regularly. Fire doors of any kind should never be secured or blocked in a way that would stop them being used.

Glazing

When it comes to glazing, it’s important to inspect it regularly for any signs of damage such as chips or cracks. If any damage is found, it should be replaced immediately. The intumescent seal around the perimeter of the glass and on both sides should be continuous, and the glazing beads should be securely fixed and undamaged.

For doors with glazing below 1500mm, fire-rated safety glass is necessary. Fire-rated glazing not only helps prevent heat transfer but also compartmentalises fires, making it crucial to ensure it’s in good condition. Fire-rated glass can withstand temperatures over 900°C, while normal glass can’t handle anything above 120°C.

Although not as common as steel or wooden fire doors, Pyropanel glass fire doors are gaining popularity as a more aesthetically pleasing option for internal doors. All Pyropanel fire doors use fire-rated glass to ensure safety.

Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve found this guide useful in helping you to understand how to undertake a basic inspection of a fire door. At the time of writing (June 2023) some big changes to the fire and buildings legislation will be coming into force on 1st October 2023. At that time, Responsible Persons (“P”) and landlords of certain buildings will need to undertake fire door inspections under a more stringent regime. As a result, we’d recommend that all Responsible Persons and landlords get used to this increased inspection requirement and bring in professional fire risk assessors as soon as practicable.

If you’d like to increase your understanding of your responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, book on to a fire marshal course. Our face-to-face courses run monthly at our training centre in Cheshire with the option to hold private courses for your colleagues at your venues, nationwide.

We also offer online training for those looking to undertake refresher training. Please get in touch if you have a specific requirement not listed on our course page and we will do all we can to accommodate your requirements.  


Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
Fire Door Inspection Checklist: What to Look for and Why

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