At PAL, we’re technical experts in the products we sell, and pride ourselves in being able to give the technical advice required to help you to find the best solution for your specific needs.

Today we’re looking at the most frequently asked questions about fire door management; from what fire doors are, to UK fire door regulations and carrying out repairs.

So, if you’ve ever had a question about fire doors, keep reading!

What is a fire door?

Fire doors are doors which have been specifically built and tested to withstand flames, smoke and heat arising from a fire for as long as possible. They delay the spread of fire from one part of a building to another (compartmentalisation) and are a crucial element of passive fire protection.

What is the purpose of a fire door?

The purpose of a fire door is to form a barrier to prevent or delay the spread of fire and smoke. This allows more time for people to safely evacuate and for emergency services to arrive and put out the fire, reducing risk to life and damage to property. Fire doors are a vital safety feature that quite literally save lives.

How do fire doors work?

Fire doors are constructed from materials that will withstand fire for a minimum length of time, which varies depending on the fire door rating. Fire doors are also fitted with intumescent strips on every edge of the door or frame. In the event of a fire, the heat will cause the intumescent strips to expand to fill the gap between the fire door and the frame, and in doing so seals the room from the spread of fire and smoke. It’s also important to note that all other parts of a fire door such as hinges, handles, closures and glass have all been specifically designed to carry out the function of withstanding fire.

What do the different fire door ratings mean?

Certified fire doors are all given a fire-resistance rating, which tells you the length of time in minutes that the door will be able to withstand fire. So an FD30 fire door will be able to withstand fire for at least 30 minutes, whilst an FD60 fire door will be able to withstand fire for at least an hour.

What are the British Standards for fire doorsets?

When it comes to testing fire doorsets in the UK, there are two different standards that can be tested to – the British Standard and the European standard. Both set out to achieve the same objective which is higher standards of fire safety. Both standards are credible and referenced in UK Building Regulations, but we’ll take a look at some of the differences below.

BS 476:

BS 476 Part 20 and 22:1987 dictate the appropriate fire tests for elements of structure and materials and also grade the level of fire resistance of a given doorset. The main shortcomings of BS 476 are that it doesn’t support CE or UKCA marking, and it isn’t recognised elsewhere in Europe. As all fire-rated external doorsets must now be UKCA/CE marked, this makes BS 476 an inappropriate standard for any external doors, and also for any external fire doors that are intended to be sold into the EU market.

BS EN 1634:

BS EN 1634-1:2014 is a standard covering fire resistance and smoke control tests for door and shutter assemblies, openable windows and elements of building hardware that is recognised in Europe. The air pressure is set differently in this test which leads to more rigorous testing than with BS 476, particularly around the threshold.

How do I know which type of fire door I need?

The type of fire door required will be determined by the buildings fire risk assessment. Fire risk assessments highlight any fire risks that are present and make recommendations to reduce or eliminate these risks on a case by case basis. This includes where fire doors should be installed and the minimum rating that those fire doors should meet.

How can I tell a fire door from a normal door?

Although wooden fire doors can look similar to normal doors, there are some clues that can help you to identify them. Fire doors should be fitted with a large metal closing mechanism that attaches to the door and the frame. Fire doors are also thicker and heavier than standard doors due to their solid, high performance cores, and therefore will be fitted with fire-rated hinges that are capable of holding the door without warping.
The best way to identify a fire door however, is to check its certification label. Every fire door is required to have a certification label which shows that it has been tested to a determined fire resistance level. You can usually find the certification label on the top edge of the door.

Why is it so important to keep fire doors closed?

A fire door can only perform its function if it’s closed at the time of a fire breaking out. Therefore fire doors should always be fitted with an automatic door closer and a sign that identifies the door as a fire door which should be kept shut.

Where are fire doors required?

Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties and public buildings. Your buildings fire risk assessment will detail where fire doors are required and at which rating. As a general rule, fire doors are normally required in doorways leading to escape routes, and for rooms that have a higher risk of a fire starting such as IT server rooms and boiler rooms. If in doubt, refer to your fire risk assessment for further details on where fire doors are required and the rating that they should be.

Fire doors are also required in blocks of flats and houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs).
In domestic dwellings above two stories, every door leading to the stairwell must be a fire door, where the door leads to a habitable room. Fire doors are also required in loft conversions, between a house and integral garage and between business and residential elements in mixed-use buildings.

What are fire door regulations?

Fire door regulations are a legal requirement which vary depending on where you are in the UK and are constantly evolving, so please ensure that you have the most up to date advice for your area. The regulations also differ depending on whether the building new or an extension, or an existing building, and also now vary depending on whether the building is above or below 11 meters in height.

What are the fire door regulations for domestic premises over 11 meters in England?

As of the 23rd January 2023, the Fire Safety [England] Regulations 2022 became a legal requirement for landlords and responsible parties. These regulations affect all multi-occupied residential premises in England with storeys over 11 meters in height and lay out increased responsibilities for responsible persons in relation to fire safety. As far as fire doors, these regulations require annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in common areas.

What are the fire door regulations for residential buildings below 11 meters in England?

Fire Safety Act 2012 states that any building with two or more sets of domestic premises is within the scope of the Fire Safety Order. The responsible person(s) for residential buildings below 11 meters in height must put in place general fire precautions in these buildings, including ensuring that all fire doors, including flat entrance doors, are capable of providing adequate protection and ensuring all residents are given information on fire doors.

How often should fire doors be checked?

For buildings above 11 meters in height, new legislation states that:

  • Responsible person(s) must undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts.
  • Responsible person(s) must undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.

For buildings that do not have any legislative requirement, the British Woodworking Federation recommend to check fire doors at least once every 6 months and more often in high traffic areas, to ensure that any issues can be identified and any maintenance required can be actioned quickly.

What should be included in a fire door check?

We’ve inserted a handy infographic from IFSEC to help you to understand what a fire door check should include. You can also check out our blog post on how to check fire doors here.

5 step fire door check

How much does a new fire door cost?

The cost of a new fire door will vary depending on a number of factors including its rating, construction style and finish. At PAL we supply VLine Doorsets which offer high quality construction in a range of styles and finishes at competitive prices. These doorsets are offered with market leading lead times and prices starting from just £437.98. Follow the links to find out more about VLine Doorsets and our price examples.

Do non-compliant fire doors always have to be replaced?

Not always! The most important factor when it comes to fire door remediations is ensuring that the end result is compliant and therefore SAFE. Below are some common issues with fire doors that can be fixed rather than needing a full replacement.

Surface damage:

The door and frame need to remain square and should not be able to distort between the sides, top and frame. Minor surface damage can be repaired but if there are major defects in the door or the frame, you must replace them.

Intumescent seals:

If the intumescent seal is damaged or badly fitted, you’ll need to replace it. Smoke seals need to be replaced in one continuous length to avoid leakage at the joints.


Hardware such as hinges, locks, handles and overhead closers can all be replaced if faulty, but must be replaced like for like – otherwise the door won’t be able to perform its function properly in the event of a fire. All VLine Doorsets come with a data pin pre-installed which includes all the relevant information to allow you to source the correct replacement parts with ease.

Excessive gaps between fire doors and frame:

Until recently, this issue would have required a whole new doorset to be installed. However, we’re proud to supply FrameFit – an innovative new product which saves time, money and otherwise perfectly good fire doors from going to landfill. FrameFit is a system designed to fill excessive gaps with highly tested intumescent strips, reducing excessive gaps back down into the compliant range. Find out more about FrameFit here.

Can anybody install or repair a fire door?

Correct installation is just as important as having the correct product specification. Even FD30 and FD60 fire doors can provide as little as 5 – 10 minutes of fire protection if they are not installed correctly. If fire doors are not able to compartmentalise a fire effectively, the occupants of the premises and fire safety teams attending are all put at significantly higher risk.

While there are no formal qualification requirements for fire door installation, a level of expertise and competency is required. The Fire Safety Order defines a Competent Person as ‘someone with sufficient training and experience, qualifications and knowledge to be able to implement fire safety measures (some or all) in a building’.

Check out the training that we have on offer at PAL Centre of Excellence. 

If you have any questions remaining regarding fire doors, please get in touch with our friendly team of experts who will be happy to help.