The ability to create and control fire has been one of humanity’s greatest achievements although it has also been an ever-present source of death, destruction and injury in the millennia since fire-making technologies were first developed. Human beings, having learned the potential for harm possessed by flames and smoke, discovered ways of preventing unintentional fires from spreading thus minimising their destructive capacity. Installing fire doors in buildings prevents accidental fires from turning into full-blown conflagrations, blocks the passage of smoke and allows people to escape the building.
How do fire doors work?
Fire doors, designed to trap flames and smoke while allowing occupants the opportunity to escape, are typically installed within compartmental buildings for the purpose of containing unintentional fires within effected areas. This type of Passive Fire Protection system (PFP) is constructed from materials that are capable of resisting flames and heat as well as stopping smoke from dissipating from one building space into another. Self-closing mechanisms allow fire doors, once opened, to slam shut in order to minimise exposure time during escape procedures that could allow a blaze to spread to other areas of the building.
Typical fire-retardant doors, such as those found in apartment blocks or office towers, are constructed from timber and contain a panel of heat-resistant glass that is fortified by wire-mesh. Other materials from which fire doors are constructed include aluminium, steel, fire-proof reinforced glass and vermiculite while gypsum is sometimes used as an endothermic filler. An intumescent seal, coating the edges of the door-panel, expands when exposed to temperatures of 200°C or more and stops smoke from entering the adjacent building compartment. The heat-resistant and smoke-proof properties of fire doors protect against the two main causes of death and injury in building fires.