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Compliant self-closing devices suitable for the elderly in blocks of flats


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I am involved in over-seeing a number of flat entrance door upgrades in older blocks (1950's-1970's) that have non-compliant (chain closer or self-closing hinges) or no self-closing device.  Many of the residents to these blocks are elderly and I am finding that they struggle to open the door with an over-head BS EN 1154 compliant self-closing device.  In some cases residents have been completely unable to open their front door even with a cam-assisted closer adjusted to the minimum setting.  This is becoming a real problem especially where the drive is to enable people to remain independent in their own homes for longer.  Power assisted door openers are obviously a great expense for elderly people.  Are there any products/solutions available that I am missing?!

Are fire doors constructed of that age even to be trusted as providing 30 minutes?  What was the general type of construction of the door leaf in the 60's-70's? 

I have my opinions on these matters and appropriate management/maintenance but I'm interested in other people's views, particularly those with experience and technical knowledge that I lack!

Greatly appreciated.



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Hi Abi, you might want to consider free-swing door closers. These allow fire doors to be opened just like normal doors (no resistance) and will stay open in any position. They will, of course, close should a fire occur. The free-swing door closers are either wired to a fire alarm panel or listen out for the sound of a fire alarm.


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Hi AbiL, My advice is to talk to a specialist manufacturer of self-closing devices for advice about the best solution for your circumstances. 

With regard to fire door leaves manufactured in the 60s / 70s, construction type is likely to be solid timber core but may also include a layer of cement board or plasterboard (or asbestos if older) inside the core of the door leaf.

Door cores of that type are likely generally to provide good fire separation qualities but of course the core of the leaf is not the only consideration. Failures of fire doors  in terms of fire integrity are usually due to apertures fitted for glass panels, letter-plates etc or due to missing intumescent seals, excessive perimeter gaps or incorrect ironmongery spec/installation.

You may wish to consider engaging a 'competent person' to undertake a suitable fire door inspection and report.

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Thank you all, very useful to hear others advice from the industry.  I have considered free-swing doors but as Tom says, in most of the purpose-built blocks there is no fire alarm system.  And if there is I'm asking why! 

I did have a report that one 95 year old lady couldn't open her flat front door even with a cam action closer, which raises other questions that I don't have control over.  Perhaps suitable adjustment is key in this situation.

Thank you Neil for comments re fire doors.  I'm trying to find a risk appropriate solution that doesn't place too much financial burden on Leaseholders but considering the events of 2017 perhaps it's time that the gold standard is sought.

Thanks again


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