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Fire doors & Shrinkage

Guest Edel

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The block of flats that I live in has recently been told (by the original developer who we got in to check something else) that the gaps between the fire doors and the frames are larger than they should be due to “natural shrinkage of the wooden doors over time”.

They were installed 5 years ago.

The solution we've been given is to remove the doors, pack out the frames to make the gaps smaller and re-hang the doors and have been quoted £26,800+VAT for doing so (for 80 fire doors – the number is high due to the number of service cupboards).

Should fire doors meeting required standards shrink in that manner? If they are likely to shrink again, are we better off paying for new doors made of different materials?

Any help you might be able to give on the above would be hugely appreciated.


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The Standard 'BS 8214 Timber-based fire doors assemblies - Code of practice' states that a typical gap to achieve good fire performance is 2mm to 4mm.  A code of practice provides guidance and recommendations and should be applied by those that install and maintain timber based fire doors.

Whether the gaps have become "larger than they should be due to natural shrinkage" might be the subject of a debate.

Might they have been "larger than they should be" at the time of installation, five years ago?

Clearly, work to make the gaps compliant to the Standard would improve the likely performance of the doors in a fire situation.

Whether the price is good value might also be the subject of a debate.  Does the fire risk assessor at the building have a view about this and might some doors be more critical in terms of fire safety at the building than others?  Remedial work should first focus on the most life-safety critical fire doors.

In terms of replacing instead of remediating the doors, there will be various door types such as Flat Entrance doors, Cross-corridor doors, Stair lobby doors and Cupboard doors. Some latched, some unlatched, some self-closing and some locked.  You should therefore consult a fire door expert for advice about suitability of 'different materials'.

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But by packing out the frames, threre will be a void behind the frame that needs filling with non combustible material, plasterwork may well be damaged and repainting will be required, cheaper to replace the doors, re use the hardware if working ok.Flush doors are cheaper than panneled doors so costs can be saved there, but its still going to cost residents a lot of money to ensure safety for all

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Guest James Attfield CertFDI

What about relipping the door leaves or frame revile to reduce the gap? This is allowed under the BMTRADA maintenance scheme. Either way from our experience trying to remediate existing fire doors is quiet time consuming and often it’s difficult for the customer to understand why the cost appears to be so high. It may be wise to get a second opinion from an FDIS or BMTRADA certified inspector/company. Neil Ashdown is right though, the Fire Risk Assessor needs to advise how urgent it is to remedy the doors based on overall risk in the building.

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