Like every component on a fire door – the hinges are essential. They don’t only do the job of securing the door and allowing it to open and close. They’re also designed to perform as an important part on that door to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.
A compromised or incorrect hinge could mean disaster in a fire. So, if you are responsible for the fire doors in your building, it’s essential that you understand these key components and how to inspect them.
Do you know how many hinges are required on a fire door? This article explains the importance of fire door hinges and how you can check yours to be sure they meet UK fire regulations.
What the Law Says About Fire Doors
UK business owners purchase an average of three million fire doors every year, according to fire safety authorities. Unfortunately, many of these doors are incorrectly installed and not kept in good condition. In fact, more than 75% of all fire doors do not meet the standards imposed by UK fire regulations, according to a recent survey by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS).
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (RRO), all UK businesses must be ‘equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment’ including ‘measures to reduce the risk of fire on the premises and the risk of the spread of fire on the premises.’
These stipulations include both active fire protection measures such as fire extinguishers and passive fire protection measures such as fire doors. The RRO also states that business owners must ensure that all fire protection measures are ‘subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.’
In short, if the fire doors in your business premises are not up to code and in good working order, then you could be in breach of the RRO. This not only increases the amount of damage that could be done to your property during a fire, but it also means you could be liable for heavy penalties under the RRO.
Who Is Responsible for Fire Door Inspections?
The RRO specifically places the obligation on the so-called ‘responsible person’ to ensure that a business premises is compliant with fire regulations. This obligation includes installing certified fire doors and conducting regular fire door inspections and checks.
The responsible person in a workplace is any person who has some degree of control over the workplace. This can be the employer but can also be the property owner, a manager or a supervisor.
Normal Door Hinges vs Fire Door Hinges – What’s the Difference?
Fire doors are much heavier than normal doors, so they require special hinges to hold them firmly in place. Fire door hinges are built to be able to support weight ranges from 40 kg to over 150 kg.
A wooden fire door will have a central core surrounded by fire-resistant materials whereas a normal wooden door will generally have a hollow core. In general, a wooden fire door at the minimum rating of FD30 will weigh in excess of 40 kg. A normal door typically weighs 15 kg. Additionally, fire door hinges need to support mechanisms such as a door closer, which in itself can weigh 60 kg or more.
Fire door hinges must also be resistant to high levels of heat. Normal door hinges will warp and melt under the intense heat of a fire. Fire door hinges must be constructed of metal that has a minimum melting point of 800° C. Typically, fire certified hinges are made from metal such as brass, stainless steel or phosphor bronze. Metals such as aluminium are not suitable for fire door hinges.
How Many Hinges on A Fire Door Should There Be?
While normal doors will require two hinges, wooden fire doors must be equipped with a minimum of three fire certified hinges. However, steel fire doors should have at least four hinges depending on the certification of the door. But your fire door may require more.
Fire door hinges should also be placed 200 millimetres from the top and bottom of the door with a third hinge being fixed an equal distance between them. If a fire door requires four hinges, they should be equally spaced apart and placed at the bottom and the top of the door.
What Grade Should Your Fire Door Hinges Be?
Fire door hinges are specifically constructed in accordance with the standard BS EN 1935:2002. This standard requires that fire-certified hinges have a large surface area to accommodate heavy-duty screws and be constructed with a pin and cap design that prevents the screws from falling out of the hinge.
A grading system describes how much weight that fire door hinges can support. These grades run from one to 14. Lower-graded doors are suitable for light duty and can support less weight and withstand 30 minutes of exposure to fire. Higher-rated doors can hold more weight and can provide up to 240 minutes of fire protection. Most fire doors are equipped with hinges rated from between Grade 7 to Grade 13.
How to Check Your Fire Door Hinges
When checking the hinges of your fire door always make sure that:
- Minimum required are in place – 3 for wood/4 for steel
- Fixings – All hinges are firmly affixed to the door
- Screws – Ensure none are loose or missing
- No rust, corrosion or damage
- No leakage – There should be no oil or other substances on the hinges
- Operation – Hinges must swing open easily and close smoothly
- Markings are in place*
*The standard that the hinge is certified to should be engraved on it – BS EN 1935, as mentioned above. Hinges on doors installed after 1993 will also have a conformity marking to demonstrate compliance. This will be a CE marking – unless the door was installed post-Brexit, in which case a UKCA or UKNI marking may appear.
Check the Paperwork
If you’re unsure about the number of hinges that should be installed or have any questions about the door, check the documentation. The fire door paperwork will explain exactly how it should be installed and the number of hinges required. If the paperwork isn’t available, contact the manufacturer.
Where to Find Further Fire Door Safety Training
A fire door is a system comprising many components designed to meet a standard of performance in a fire. Understanding how many hinges on a fire door are required and how to ensure they are suitable is just one part of the puzzle. Fire door inspections involve systematically checking all parts of a door to ensure it is compliant and can do its job of saving lives and protecting property.
You can learn how to properly inspect all parts of a fire door by taking our Fire Door Inspection Training course. This course is specifically designed to teach trainees everything they need to how to properly check if a fire door meets fire regulations.
Our Fire Door Inspection Training is assured by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). If you successfully complete the course, you’ll be awarded a downloadable and printable certificate and a free fire door inspection e-Checklist that can be used for future fire door inspections.