December 16, 2021

When can I leave a Fire Door open?

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“It’ll be fine to leave that fire door open …

… I’ll close it if there’s a fire.

… We’ll never have a fire here.

… It’s so stuffy – we need some fresh air.

… No one’s going to know.”

How often have you heard these excuses for propping open a fire door? How often have you heard yourself utter the same, or similar, words?

Let’s look at fire doors – and whether there are any circumstances when it might be legal or safe to leave them open.

Fire Doors are about saving lives…

and to a lesser extent, protecting property. Almost everyone appreciates that fire doors serve a vital purpose – to prevent or delay the spread of fire. For fire doors to be effective, they need to be

  • manufactured to standard
  • managed correctly

Although for the majority of the time, fire doors must clearly be kept shut, there are occasions, usually in the event of a fire, that they need to be kept open. In every case, for legal and safety reasons, this must be done correctly.

Your options are

  • fire door hard-wired fire door retainers
  • a ‘hold-open device’ incorporated into a door closer
  • radio-controlled retainers
  • Sound activated door openers – for a limited time only

Using Hard Wired Fire Door Retainers

They are ideal in contemporary buildings – offering a direct connection to the building’s fire detection system. Hard-wired fire door retainers work by being connected to a 24 V dc power supply, enabling the doors to be kept open. In the event of fire, the power is cut, meaning the door is released and closes.

If there’s a fault in the wiring or power supply, a fail-safe kicks in, releasing the doors.

A ‘hold-open device’ incorporated into a door closer

A standard fire door closer can be used as a mechanism to hold a door open but ready to close if a fire starts. For this to work, the closer must include a ‘free-swing’ mode to hold the door open.

The benefit is that it takes away the need for a standard closer and fire door holder. Unlike a fire door holder, a fire door closer will make heavy doors feel lighter – perfect where internal fire doors can be too heavy and hard to open.

Fire door closers are best suited for environments where an open door is needed to reduce feelings of isolation. They can be sound-activated or radio-controlled.

Radio-Controlled Retainers

Radio-controlled technology can be used to close doors. A controller connects to an existing fire panel or interface unit.

This option offers strong protection, controlling as many as 99 door holders and closers within a range of up to 50 meters.

Sound Activated Fire Door Retainers

When a fire alarm goes off, a sound-activated retainer reacts, recognising the specific sound of that building’s alarm.

Sound-activated retainers are battery-powered and, being wire-free, are easy and inexpensive to install.

Fire Safety Doors advice – a matter of trust

Before deciding upon which fired door system to install, always talk to a trusted professional. They will survey your building and give you sound advice on when and how you can safely and legitimately keep your fire doors open.

Don’t ignore the legal considerations. If you wedge open a fire door and put someone’s life at risk, you could face a fine or prison sentence, as well as run into problems with your insurers.

All it takes is one ‘wedged open’ fire door, and your insurer may refuse to pay for any damages.

Are you the ‘person of responsibility’ within your operation? Then be sure to cover all bases. When it comes to fire safety, there’s no room for short-cuts.

For a no-obligation conversation, get in touch.