The main purpose of Fire Doors is to form a compartment by separating lift lobby area from staircase exits in buildings/structures to enable people to safely evacuate a premise in case of fire. Fire Doors are a passive fire measure that helps to control the spread of fire, smoke & fumes from penetrating beyond the doors. They are usually used in shafts & staircase exits so as to enable people to safely evacuate a building under fire but also act as a means of compartmentalizing a fire. Normally, the exits/stairways in buildings require stringent fire protection to enable people to safely evacuate a building in a fire scenario. Passive Fire Products are used to retard fire (reduce the rate of spread of fire) when a fire occurs and prevents fire, smoke & fumes from spreading beyond.
It is also important that critical areas like Electrical Shafts, LV Shaft, Plumbing & fire fighting shafts, Lift machine room, Pump room, and Meter room must have a fire door.
Terrace doors are nonfire doors and will have louvers at the top half of the door. The latching arrangement has to be there with vision panel above the latch.
Let us have a look at a case study of a real fire that occurred in December 2013 @ a 26-floor building in South Mumbai. Seven people died in that fire in spite of certain passive fire measures having been taken. The fire occurred as a result of a short circuit in an apartment on the 12th Floor. In the building, they had taken measures to secure the shafts/ducts by using Ace Mortar Seal, a cement-based fire stop compound. As a result, the fire was successfully contained to the 12th Floor. Some of the deaths occurred as some people used the stairway to exit the building when they thought the fire was put out. Unfortunately, Fire Doors were not used to secure the stairway and as a result, the people who exited through the stairways died of suffocation from toxic gases/fumes.
What should one look for in Fire Doors?
The type of fire door whether steel or wooden. The fire rating, the total time that a fire door will withstand fire, smoke & fumes from propagating further. Obviously, the size and the accessories (hardware) required. There are the actual physical properties to look for in a door. There are also Fire Rated Glass Doors and Partitions where visibility & aesthetics are required, the use of fireproof glass and glass partitions are used.
In addition, one must look at the certificates (from which labs, whether government-approved labs or private labs), the standards of the tests conducted on the fire doors and the experience of the fire door manufacturer.
Why is it important to use a tested and certified fire door?
A reputed fire door manufacturer can provide you various types of fire doors that can offer a fire rating of 30 minutes to up to 2 hours. As with any or most fire safety products, it is best to use products that have been tested as per standards to test their efficacy in the event of a fire. In India, the acceptable standards are: BS 476 (Part 20 & 22); IS 3614 (Part 2); and UL 10C.
This is the most important thing you need to check about a fire door manufacturer.
It is important that Fire Doors are installed at the site/location by experienced people or preferably by the Fire Door Manufacturer. As each manufacturer’s door design may vary, and it is based on their design that a fire door will function in the event of a fire, it is important that fire doors are installed as per the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer or an experienced installer.