Evacuation time is crucial when a fire erupts out. The more time you have before the structural integrity of the building is compromised, the more people you can get out of the zone and evacuate to a safer area. On the other hand, if fire spread is rapid, no fire doors are in place and the evacuation time is quite low, it wont be good for the residents or occupants of that building. Since each and every minute counts in such a situation, it is imperative that certain measures be in place, like fire doors that increase the evacuation time. Are NHS-approved fire doors able to contain the flames for extended durations? How long will such a fire door last? We take a thorough look. Before we get into the technical details, lets discuss a little about what fire doors are, and which houses should have them installed. Then, we’ll look into how long an NHS-approved fire door can contain fire.
Fire doors: the basics
A fire door acts as a first line of defence in passive firefighting. It is called a fire door because of its ability to contain the spread of a fire, giving occupants valuable time to clear out of the house and allowing firefighters to combat the flames with increased efficiency and accuracy. As opposed to active fire-fighting measures like fire-retardants and sprinklers, which seek to actively put out a fire, passive measures aim towards allowing the occupants of any premise to clear out before the fire gets destructive and dangerous. They seek to contain rather than to extinguish it. Made of materials like steel, fiberglass or fire-rated glass, all of these materials are tested to stop and slow the spread of the flames rather than actively extinguishing them.
Which buildings should have fire doors?
Every house, every office building and any building with a large number of occupants should have fire doors. Although the NHS has specific guidelines, which list any building with three or more floors to have fire doors with each room connected to a staircase, common practice is to include fire doors in all buildings regardless of floors, since they provide the best passive fire resistant abilities short of dousing the flames altogether and can give valuable time for evacuations and will also make the job of firefighters a lot easier.
How long will an NHS-approved fire door hold out?
While this purely depends on the build quality and the materials used within the fire doors, fire doors have to contain the spread of the fire for atleast 30 minutes. This gives evacuation services ample time to clear out the affected building, and ensure that all occupants have been safely removed before any fire-fighting procedures be initiated. However, that is not recommended or enough, when it comes to fire safety. See, if a building is large and holds more occupants, then 30 minutes is simply not going to cut it. For instance, an apartment block with 80 plus residents cannot be evacuated within 30 minutes, which is why the NHS uses the FD system to regulate what fire doors can be used with buildings of certain occupancy levels.
FD30 and FD60 fire doors
The FD system allows both fire door manufacturers and NHS to gauge the kind of resistance that the fire doors will display to fire of numerous degrees and how long can they hold out under extreme circumstances. Commonly available types include the FD30, which provides 30 minutes of fire resistance and the FD60, which is currently the highest-rated fire door when it comes to holding out on extreme situations involving fire.
The FD30 is designed for low-occupancy buildings, where a reasonable evacuation time is below 30 minutes, giving rescue services ample time to clear out the building and allow fire-fighting equipment and personnel to be deployed, ready to douse the flames. The FD30, is therefore perfect for houses below three stories and warehouses and other buildings where occupancy level isn’t that high, and rescue services can be expected to clear out the premises within 30 minutes.
However, for buildings which have more than three floors, presumably residents and occupants in the hundreds, will not suffice with the FD30-rated fire doors. For such buildings, like hospitals, office complexes and hotels, the FD60 rating fire doors are used. As the name implies, these can provide upto 60 minutes of fire resistance; which, while isn’t ample with respect to the number of occupants, can be utilized effectively with multiple fire doors in tandem essentially cordoning off the fire area, while rescue services utilize crowd-control strategies and rapid evacuation techniques to clear out a building and ensure the fire-fighting personnel is on standby to control and work towards extinguishing the flames as soon as possible.
In a nutshell,
NHS-approved doors can hold out on extreme fire situations for 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the installation and the occupancy numbers of the building. However, 60 minutes does not represent a definitive protection ceiling; it is designed to give rescue services the maximum amount of time to clear out a building before the door’s structural integrity is compromised.
Ignis Doors: passive fire-fighting solutions geared for anything!
As unpredictable as fire can be, raging inside a house or within a hospital, one thing that you can always depend on and count on is Ignis Doors, which manufactures the highest quality fire doors geared towards providing the maximum possible protection and safety. Ignis Doors only uses the best fire-resistant materials in their fire doors, and steers clear of foam or honeycomb infills, which fail to provide any discernable protection against fire, and can fail under high-temperature situations.
Fire doors from Ignis, on the other hand, provide maximum security; rated for both FD30 and FD60, these doors are the perfect choice for buildings with high occupancy levels, as they can withstand extreme temperatures for longer and will provide rescue services with ample time to clear out the premise. With their extreme capacity to prevent fire from spreading, Ignis Doors also provides a clear and concentrated zone of fire which firefighters can use to effectively combat the flames.