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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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Hi MHO,

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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Guest MGFRA

QUESTION

In regard to fire doors and the number of hinges etc, I understand that the third hinge is a requirement not just to deal with the additional weight of a fire door but to prevent or resist the door bowing centrally with the heat.  Is there a set distance for hinges in relation to fire doors?  I ask as I know for many years heavier doors were fitted with 3 hinges (2 at the top and 1 at the bottom) many hospitals are like this.   I have more recently noted that there are many fire doors that are indeed fitted with three rated hinges BUT again two hinges at the very top and one at the very bottom of the door.  My question is how does this therefore meet the fire door aspect of preventing and resisting the door bowing in the middle?? 

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The certification data sheet or technical manual will provide details for hinge positions for the particular fire door. If you can find out the door type and manufacturer then contact them for advice.

There are timber based fire doors that allow the third hinge to be fitted as 'two at the top' as an alternative to central to door leaf height.

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There a number of reasons why three hinges and higher grade are recommended, check out BS EN 1935:2002. For instance fire doors fitted with self closers with backcheck or hold open devices three hinges are recommended and the third hinges should be located 200mm below the top hinge.

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Further to my previous submission the need for three hinges are necessary because of the weight of the door and any theoretical increase of mass, because self closers are installed. Also prior to the 80's any bowing of the door could open the gap between the door and the frame allowing heat and smoke to pass through, but now this is not a problem, providing the door is well fitting, with the recommended gaps, because intumescent strips are installed.

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