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Guest EtiveFoxw

How many hinges are needed on a fire door?

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Guest MHO

I have recently had a fire door assessment carried out on a building which is 18 years old. The assessment has failed every fire door  on the 3 hinge rule.  There are some other hardware issues, but as a new build I am sure the facility would have been assessed and passed - so my query is whether "grandfather" rules apply in this case or is there a need to update to meet current legislation on existing doors?


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You don't say if the building has had any work done regarding the fire doors that would be subject to current building regulations. So assuming the answer is no and the fire doors were installed 18 years ago when the building was built, the question is: Do you need to upgrade to three hinges per fire door?

A fire door inspector should check several points (depending on the fire door rating) regarding the hinges: a) That they are suitable for the fire door and in good serviceable condition,  b) That all correct size fixing screws are present and that the hinges are securely fixed to the door and frame and  c) That there are three or more hinges fitted at the correct positions either because its a requirement to comply with the evidence of performance for the fire door or to comply with BS 8214 the Code of Practice for Timber Based Fire Doors.  

Timber based fire doors (unless very small cupboard doors) should have three or more hinges to meet the required fire separation performance by helping  to prevent or limit distortion of the door at mid-height in a fire situation. The fire performance of the door can only be as good as the hinge fixings used to secure it to its door frame. So if there are three hinges rather than two then the fire performance will that much better!

Fire doors are covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and Article 17 of the Order requires that Fire Doors...... are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/article/17/made 


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BS EN 1935:2002 Building hardware. Single-axis hinges. Requirements and test methods, appendix E deals with hinges used on fire doors with self closers, which state self closer increase the loading on hinges therefore three hinges should be fitted. Because now, front fire doors of flats are fitted with self closers, which has not always been the case, they should be fitted with three hinges.

In the 1960,s access to flats was by means of open walkways and local councils used a concept of fire safety called smoke dispersion. Later on, access was enclosed but they kept the smoke dispersal concept and did research to keep escape routes clear of smoke logging and provided 1 sq m of natural ventilation in each corridor allowing all front doors to be ajar, so front doors were not fitted with self closers, consequently two hinges were allowed.

In 2005 the fire service became the enforcing authority and the guidance became a hybrid of smoke dispersal and containment which resulted in front doors requiring self closers which now required tree hinges. However it is all about risk assessment and there is no hard and fast rules. 

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BS EN 1935:2002 Building hardware. Single-axis hinges says that all fire doors fitted with self closers or hold open devices should have three hinges of group 12,13,or 14. This is to prevent the door warping in use or in a fire, preventing the door closing properly. The manufacturer may in very exceptional circumstances suggest only two hinges may be suitable.

Two hinges may be fitted to fire doors not using self closers , but could be subject to warping in a fire so it is wise to fit three hinges, so other than fire doors to very small cupboard doors, all fire doors should have three hinges.

I think the problem is the british standards they try to cover all the eventualities which adds to confusion, I would always fit three hinges unless I have documentation evidence to the contrary.  

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