Ensure Your Safety with this Fire Door Checklist According to Australian Building Regulations04 November 2021
A fire door is a door with a fire-resistance rating (sometimes referred to as a fire protection rating for closures) used as part of a passive fire protection system to reduce the spread of fire or smoke between compartments and to enable safe evacuation from a building. Exit Doors are a critical part of the fire and safety infrastructure of a building. By law, there are very specific locking requirements required for Exit Doors. Locks used on Exit Doors – which also include Fire Doors and Path of Travel Doors – are governed by Building Codes of Australia (BCA) Ordinance.
Exit safety is paramount and includes emergency evacuations such as fires, toxic gas leaks, chemical spills, personal safety, and even bomb threats. The code specifically states that personal safety takes precedence over security. Local Council Building and Fire Inspectors, and the Fire Brigade, are the authorities that most commonly police compliance with this regulation. The regulation is complex with numerous grey areas, with the ultimate interpretation falling with the inspecting authority.
There are three categories of exit doors.
Fire Door: A Fire Door is a door that enters a fireproof stairway or tunnel. The door itself is made from a special fire-resistant material and has a fire rating compliance tag fitted to the hinge edge of the door. A steel fire resistant door frame is also used.
Exit Door: An Exit Door is a door that allows an emergency exit from a building. Depending on its location, it need not necessarily be fire-rated, or steel framed.
Door Path: A path of travel door is a door in the egress pathway leading to or between a Fire Door or Exit Door. They are often dual-purpose and also used as smoke doors.
The exit opening action of a lock must be a single-handed downward lever action. A pushing action is also allowed and is preferred. Internal knobs or turn snibs is not permitted. This provision takes into account the need for an emergency opening mechanism to be operable by people with hand or arm related disabilities, burns to their hands, with perspiring or wet hands, or the aged or infirm.
The opening mechanism should be capable of being operated by a nudging action whilst dragging an injured or unconscious person to safety. Key locking is not permissible on the exit side (inside) of the door. Only one lock per door is permissible.
In the case of Fire Doors, the lock must be self-latching and be fire rated following AS1905.1. A fire-rated automatic door closer must also be fitted. Only fire rated hardware may be fitted to fire-rated doors. Fire Doors must only be fitted with door hardware fire-rated following AS1905.1
Fire Door locks must be self-latching and are not permitted to have a hold-open feature. It is a legal offence to prop open or otherwise interfere with the automatic closing action of a Fire Door. Fire Doors must be fitted with a fire-rated automatic (non-hold open) door closer. An automatic closing door is essential in controlling smoke, heat, and backdrafts, which could potentially feed the fire.
ABIS. (n.d.). Fire Doors. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from ABIS: https://www.abis.com.au/fire-door/