What is a fire exit door?
A fire exit is a means of exiting a building in the event of a fire. Fire exit doors are also known as emergency exit doors or fire escape doors. Having these doors in place is critical for keeping your employees and members of the public safe when inside your buildings.
What is the difference between a fire exit door and a fire door?
There is a difference between fire exit doors and fire doors. In fact, fire exit doors are usually not fireproof. Fire exit doors allow people to escape from the building in the event of a fire. Fire doors, on the other hand, are built to prevent fire from spreading between rooms. Add to this, fire exit doors are found on the outside of buildings, while fire doors are located inside – which makes sense when considering the purpose of each door type. Fire exit doors are made from strong yet light material so they still serve the purpose of providing security against intruders but are also easy to open from the inside. Meanwhile, fire doors need to be made from very strong materials that withstand fire.
Why are fire exit doors so important?
Fire safety regulations were introduced after the Victoria hall Disaster in Sunderland in 1883. More than 180 children died because a door at the bottom of a stairwell was locked, leading the government to enforce minimum building safety standards. If a building does not have an adequate escape route and fire exit doors that can be easily opened in an emergency, the consequences could be fatal.
What are the requirements for fire exit doors?
The fire exit door of a building needs to be secure from the outside but easy to open on the inside. Add to this, all doors on escape routes leading to that door must be easy to open without needing a key. A fire exit must be in an easy to access, permanent location, leading to a safe area where people can go in the event of an emergency, and it needs to be controlled from inside the building and be regularly maintained. Unlike fire doors, fire exit doors don’t need to be fire-resistant.
According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005, the specifications for fire exit doors are:
- Sliding or revolving doors cannot be used as fire exit doors.
- Fire exit doors must open in the direction of escape.
- They must not be locked in a way that cannot be quickly and easily opened by any person in an emergency.
- If fire exit doors can be locked from the outside, they must be fitted with an emergency push bar on the inside.
Panic hardware and alarms
Panic hardware – commonly known as push bars – come in a variety of styles but they all allow a person to easily open the door when pushed. For added security, you could also install an alarm on your fire exit door so that it can only be used to exit the building in an emergency.
Fire exit best practices
A "responsible person" needs to be identified and given the role to ensure fire safety standards are met in your building. This includes ensuring the premises meets the required standards and that any occupants are aware of fire safety guidance.
The more people that use your building, the more fire exits you will need. This also influences the required width of your fire exit. For example, the minimum fire exit width for up to 60 people is 750mm. The number of storeys your building has and the limits on travel distance to the nearest exit will also affect how many fire exits you need.
Fire exit routes should be clearly marked with emergency exit signs and they need to be well-lit, even in a power cut. Routes and exits should never be blocked from the inside or the outside, and combustible items that could increase the spread of a fire should never be kept in corridors or stairways. From a fire safety point of view, it's okay to leave your fire exit door open as long as it isn't doubling up as a fire door - but of course, you should consider the security implications of this.
Fire safety and regulation tips
The responsible person in charge of fire safety should carry out the following tasks:
- Carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises
- Identify any fire risks and alert staff or representatives
- Provide staff with fire safety instructions and training
- Test fire alarms weekly
- Ensure your fire exit doors are well-maintained and regularly serviced
Fire exit doors from Stanair
Stanair provides steel fire exit doors in single or double leaf. They have a strong construction with zinc-coated folded steel construction; reinforced hinge edges; welded thick steel-reinforced channels to the bottom edges; and high tensile steel-reinforced lock points. Our fire exit doors offer excellent security to protect from intruders, as well as optimal safety in the event of an emergency.