Fire Door Safety Week
This year’s Fire Door Safety Week will highlight the importance of checking that fire doors are fit for purpose, with a number of useful videos and guides explaining what needs to be looked at and how to make sure that your fire doors will perform reliably when they need to.
Understandably, the focus of the campaign is on the fire door and does not go into the details of its components, other than to mention them in general terms.
This article aims to support the Fire Door Safety Week initiative by providing supplementary information on the selection and use of door closers, covering technical performance and other criteria which we feel should be considered when choosing a door closer.
The Fire Door Safety Week website makes mention of door closers in the Fire Door Alliance Best Practice Guide . This, in turn, references documents such as the DHF/GAI Code of Practice: Hardware for fire and Escape Doors, which provides more in-depth information on statutory regulations, performance standards and testing.
As an active member and supporter of these organisations and initiatives, at Samuel Heath, we wholeheartedly endorse the principles laid down in these documents. We invest substantial amounts of money and resources into ensuring that our Powermatic door closers continue to meet relevant performance standards as well as contributing towards the fire door’s ability not only to provide the necessary levels of fire and smoke protection, but also to comply with other requirements, such as accessibility, and perform reliably.
Our performance statements are supported by independent testing, full certification and third-party accreditation to provide the specifier, customer and end user with total confidence in Powermatic’s suitability for use on fire doors in a wide variety of situations. In fact, Powermatic is the only Certifire jamb-mounted door closer.
Door closers are an integral part of the fire doorset. Not only do they ensure that the fire door is closed when it needs to be, they can also bring many other benefits, such as assuring the reliability of the fire door, enhancing occupant safety and minimising maintenance costs.
Properly selected, specified and installed, the right door closer can make a significant contribution towards satisfying these requirements; fire performance, accessibility, safety, reliability, damage limitation, comfort, aesthetics, reduced maintenance costs and so on.
Fire and accessibility
Where performance is concerned, the key considerations when selecting door closers are fire safety and accessibility. Local authorities will be well-aware of the legislation and performance standards governing these, including CE marking, Building Regulations (Approved Documents B and M in particular), the Regulatory Reform Order and the Equality Act.
Door closers obviously need to satisfy these requirements and enable doors to meet those which apply.
Door closers in themselves cannot claim to meet the accessibility requirements of Approved Document M and BS 8300, but they must allow the door to comply. Some single spring door closers will struggle with this due to the opening forces that need to be overcome, whereas dual-mechanism devices can achieve the required performance.
In addition, the product’s ability to perform reliably time after time, and for many years, is critical. Specifiers should be considering products from reputable manufacturers, preferably those who offer third-party certification.
The fire doors fitted as main entrance doors, for example to flats, apartments and HMOs, not only need to perform reliably in the case of fire. They often need to offer the assurance of security for the dwelling’s occupants, with PAS 24 being the recognised standard.
Whilst the door closer might not have a direct effect on the ability of a doorset to meet this standard, it will be more reassuring for specifiers to know that it has been fitted to a doorset which has successfully completed the security tests, an example being the combination of Powermatic door closers and doors manufactured by Sentry Doors and Ahmarra Doors.
Benefits of concealment
Consideration also needs to be given to the needs of occupants and the situation in which the door closers are being used.
Jamb-mounted, concealed door closers, such as Powermatic, are becoming increasingly popular in HMOs, high-rise flats and apartments.
Where surface mounted door closers have mechanical arms and control boxes on show, the jamb-mounted door closer is completely invisible when the door is closed, and very unobtrusive when the door is open. This concealment delivers a number of benefits:-
Comfort & well-being
Powermatic concealed door closers have long been used by designers and architects to assure the aesthetics of interiors in a wide variety of buildings, notably hotels and high-end apartments.
The principle of improved aesthetics is now becoming more widely valued in housing developments, and not for the sole purpose of a better looking interior. The lack of unsightly mechanical devices creates a more homely, less institutionalised atmosphere which contributes towards the comfort and well-being of residents.
Reliability & maintenance
A more practical and financially astute reason for selecting concealed door closers is the fact that they are far less likely to be damaged, whether by a deliberate act, lack of care, misuse or tampering.
This can mean reduced maintenance costs, less inconvenience for residents and more reliable fire safety.
Totally concealed door closers may also offer some benefits in dwellings occupied by tenants with psychological or mental health challenges.
Installation & adjustment
The main entrance doors to many flats, apartments and HMOs have limited clearance, particularly behind the door. With nothing protruding from the door surface, jamb-mounted door closers are able to accommodate such restrictions more easily.
Once installed, adjustment of closing speed and latching point will be necessary to account for local conditions and requirements. Here, door closers such as Powermatic, which can be easily accessed and adjusted without removal from the door will prove beneficial.
Making the right choice
When selecting door closers, specifiers and door manufacturers should be particularly careful to choose products which will stand up to the rigours of day-to-day use in social housing situations and which will perform reliably for many years.
Selecting products from established manufacturers with a reputation for engineering and quality will be essential. Third party certification provides added assurance, as does a lengthy manufacturer’s warranty, typically of ten years.