Maintenance of Fire Doors

Fire Doors — Specification Of Timber Fire DoorsIdentifying Fire DoorsNominal Fire Doors Fire Door Seals / Fire Smoke Seals Fire Resisting Glazing Maintenance Of Fire Doors

Fire doors are engineered products that provide life and property saving functions in the event of fire. It is important that they are regularly inspected and maintained to permit them to perform at their best on the one and only occasion when they are called upon so to do.

Doorsets fitted with hold open devices or swing free type closer should be closed daily, particularly overnight when there is likely to be low building occupancy. For busy 24/7 buildings (e.g. hospitals) fire doors should be closed at least weekly. All fire doors should close effectively from any angle of opening using only the door closer.

There are a number of reasons why doors may fail to close:-

  • Check that there are no foreign bodies or other objects obstructing the door.
  • Check that any smoke seals are correctly fitted and are undamaged.
  • Check the latch, if fitted to ensure correct operation and that it is suitably lubricated.
  • Only as a last resort should the closing device be adjusted, but this must be carried out carefully to ensure that the doors can be opened without undue force.

Intumescent seals should be checked regularly, at intervals not greater than 6 months, and damaged or missing seals replaced. To maintain the design performance potential, replacement seals should be of the same brand, size and type as the original. However, any intumescent seal of the same size as the original is better than none.

Mechanical items such as hinges, locks, latches, closer, floor springs etc are likely to wear over time. Maintenance provisions should comply with the hardware suppliers recommendations where these are known. Otherwise, locks and latches may require occasional light lubrication.

Some hinges use self lubricating bearings that will not need additional lubrication.

Where it is necessary to replace worn hardware on a fire door, the essential items should be replaced with products to the same specification as the original where possible. Otherwise hinges, latches, locks, flush bolts, closer and other items of load bearing or securing hardware should be of the same type and size as the original items and should have been proven for use in timber fire rated doorsets of the required performance. Hardware that has been successfully tested in metal doorsets may not be suitable for use with timber doorsets. Intumescent gaskets may have been used under hinge blades, lock/latch for end plates, strike plates, with some closer fittings and in flush bolt recesses. These gaskets should be replaced if possible with gaskets of the same material.

Otherwise they should be retained and reused with the new fittings if they are undamaged. Intumescent gaskets or mastics used for these applications are usually the low pressure type.

Redundant hardware should be carefully removed.


Unglazed areas of any fire door leaves are generally not required to provide a specific surface spread of flame requirement and may therefore be decorated as desired. There is no evidence to suggest that over painting of heat activated seals has any detrimental effect on the ability of the seals to perform efficiently. There are some benefits in over painting the seals as they are less likely to absorb atmospheric moisture. However, there are limits on how much paint can be applied without there being a risk of the seal being rendered inoperative. It is recommended that over painting be limited to a maximum of five coats of conventional oil bound paint or varnish. When preparing a frame for redecoration, the use of heat or chemical strippers should be avoided if intumescent seals are incorporated. If seals are damaged by either of these processes, they should be replaced. If glazing beads have been painted with intumescent paint, it is essential that they should be repainted with a similar paint.

British Standards
The following is a list of documents relevant to timber fire doors BS 476: – 20: 1987 Fire tests on building materials and structures. Methods for determination of the fire resistance of elements of construction (general principles)

BS 476 – 22: 1987 Fire tests on building materials and structures. Methods for determination of the fire resistance of non-loadbearing  elements of construction

BS 476: – 23: 1987 Fire tests on building materials and structures. Methods for the determination of the contribution of components to the fire resistance of a structure

BS 476: – 31.1: 1983 Fire tests on building materials and structures. Method of measuring smoke penetration through doorset and shutter assemblies – method of measurement under ambient temperature conditions.

BS 8214:2008 Code of practice for fire door assemblies

BS EN 1634-1:2008 Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door, shutter and, openable window assemblies and elements of building hardware. Fire resistance tests for doors, shutters and openable windows which is an alternative for BS 476 – 22: 1987

Additional Information
Building Research Establishment (BRE) produce research documents called BRE Digests and one on fire doors has been produced. BRE Digests are obtainable from BREbookshop use the website search engine.

If you require a more in depth information check out Architectural and Specialists Door Manufacturers Associationand download the Best Practice Guide to Timber Fire Doors

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