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Fire Door Integrity: Understanding 5 Common Causes of Failure

Fire doors play a vital role in compartmentalisation strategies, acting as passive fire protection elements that impede the spread of flames and smoke within a building during a fire event. However, the efficacy of these critical safety components hinges on their proper installation, maintenance, and overall integrity. In a recent survey conducted by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) (Based on data from over 100,000 fire door inspections), it was found that a staggering 75% of all fire doors failed to meet the required standards, putting lives at risk during fire incidents. The report identified healthcare facilities, local government buildings, housing association properties, and private residences as the building types most susceptible to fire door issues. This vulnerability is attributed to the higher volume of activity and occupant flow within these structures. Consequently, the study emphasises the critical importance of implementing routine inspections and maintenance programs for fire doors.


This article explores some of the most common factors that can compromise fire door performance.

  1. Maintaining Clearance: The Importance of Millimetres


A significant vulnerability identified in the FDIS study was the presence of excessive gaps between the door and frame in 34% of inspected doors. This is a critical issue as properly fitted fire doors are essential for achieving fire compartmentation within a building. Fire door assemblies are designed to achieve a specific level of fire resistance based on rigorous testing protocols. This performance is predicated on minimal gaps between the door leaf and the frame. Exceeding the maximum allowable clearance – typically 4mm dependant on certification can significantly diminish the door's ability to effectively impede fire and smoke spread.  Regular inspections and adjustments are paramount to ensure continued adherence to these critical clearances.

2. Hinge Configuration: Ensuring Stability Under Duress


Standard-height fire doors require a minimum of three hinges for a reason. Hinges play a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity of the door assembly, particularly during a fire event where extreme heat can cause warping.  Two hinges are insufficient to prevent warping and the subsequent creation of gaps that compromise the fire and smoke barrier.  Following manufacturer recommendations and adhering to certification regarding the number and placement of hinges is crucial.

3. The Essential Role of Seals: Intumescent and Smoke Control


Fire door assemblies rely on specialised seals to function effectively. Intumescent seals expand when exposed to heat, further constricting gaps around the door leaf. Smoke seals, on the other hand, specifically address smoke infiltration.  Damaged, missing, or improperly installed seals render the fire door assembly vulnerable.  Regular inspections and replacements of these vital components are necessary to maintain optimal performance.  The FDIS study also found that 61% of inspected doors exhibited deficiencies in their intumescent or smoke seals. These seals are specifically designed to expand under high heat conditions, effectively plugging gaps around the door frame and mitigating the spread of smoke and fire. The absence or malfunction of these seals can significantly compromise a fire door's ability to perform as intended, potentially leading to detrimental consequences during a fire event. 

4. Door Closers: Ensuring Automatic Closure


Active fire doors that fail to close automatically defeats their primary purpose. Faulty or malfunctioning door closers can prevent the door from self-closing, creating a pathway for fire and smoke to propagate.  Prompt identification and replacement of compromised door closers during fire door inspections are critical to maintaining the integrity of the fire compartmentation strategy.

5. The Importance of Tested Doorsets: A Holistic Approach


Fire doors are a cornerstone of any effective building fire safety strategy.  Understanding the factors that can compromise their performance empowers building owners and managers to prioritise proper installation, maintenance, and inspection protocols. By adhering to relevant building codes and fire safety regulations, and by partnering with qualified fire door specialists like DorSuite, building occupants can have confidence in the integrity of these life-saving passive fire protection elements.


DorSuite offers a comprehensive range of third-party accredited fire doorsets, including Q-Mark certified solutions, with fire protection ratings up to 120 minutes (FD120).  Our unique "DorSuiting" system meticulously details every aspect of the doorset, ensuring all components work cohesively to deliver optimal fire performance. 

Contact us today to discuss your fire door requirements and ensure the safety of your building occupants.

How often do you have your fire doors inspected?

  • Never

  • Annually

  • Biannually

  • More than biannually


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