Fire Doors are an essential part of the passive fire safety system of any educational establishment.
We manage 1000s of doors within various sectors, including the education sector. Primarily working in London and the South East. We are familiar with the common problems within various educational settings from nurseries to university campuses.
Whilst we love working with the educational sector, we recognise that doors within this environment tend to suffer from higher than average wear and tear. This is partly due to high volumes of traffic but also down to ‘user behaviour’.
Ultimately the user will use the door how they wish, so countering specific behaviour is a key part when specifying a Fire Door.
Schools are extremely inspirational places to be, where academic and creative minds are flourishing. It therefore makes sense to balance the practical functionality of Fire Doors with the more creative aspects, such as colour and overall aesthetics.
Whilst some commercial environments stay moderately rigid with their style guide, schools, universities and other educational environments provide the perfect place to express the ethos and aspirations of the institution.
Before talking about some of the more practical sides of Fire Doors, let’s have a look at some of the fun things we can do with the aesthetics of Fire Doors, in the education environment.
Whilst there may be many different styles of Fire Doors, with various glazing options, almost all modern Fire Doors have some kind of laminate or fabricated finish. Rarely do you see a modern solid oak Fire Door for instance.
Patterns and veneers can be applied to the door leaf similar to desks and other furniture. They can also be matched to existing furniture or the fabric of the building.
In terms of hardware, stainless steel is the most popular finish by far. However, this is more often than not a ‘stainless steel’ painted finish. This, therefore, allows for many different finishes from ‘gold’ to bright red RAL finishes.
This flexibility allows for an almost unlimited number of door finishes, whilst keeping all the practicality and technical specification of the Fire Doors.
For more inspiration on Fire Door styles see the following pages:
The overall aim for any environment is to create an ‘accessible environment’ regardless of physical or mental ability.
Whilst DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) is often the first thing that comes to mind, it’s also important to remember that the educational environment will see many walks of life going through heavy traffic areas.
Whilst ideally people should have free and easy movement throughout the buildings, where permissible, it is especially important that users can move freely in the event of an emergency.
There are an array of emergencies that can take place within an educational environment, primarily fire and child safeguarding. Regardless of the emergency, unfortunately, panic and erratic behaviour is likely to take place during these times. Stampedes for instance are a very real threat to the people involved.
A common example of issues arising is wheelchair users struggling to open heavy Fire Doors, with insufficient door hardware.
There could be thresholds which impinge on mobility or small vision panels which result in collisions. Some doors may not meet standards in terms of clear door opening widths, resulting in awkward or limited access.
The hardware requirements for Fire Doors is technical, and often requires certified personnel to specify accordingly. Listing all possible hardware and systems would result in a lengthy article, so to keep things simple, the following are key areas of interest.
Whilst it’s helpful for our clients to consider these options, we also stress to our clients, that our certified Architectural Ironmongery team can help you specify any Fire Door, with little technical knowledge required from the client.
Contact us if you require further information on specifying a Fire Door to be supplied and installed.
Whilst Fire Doors will have some hardware which is mandatory to the function of the door, in special circumstances, it’s often advised to have some additional hardware.
This hardware could be due to special educational needs (SEN) or simply to prolong the lifecycle of the door. It is also wise to consider more advanced hardware which could complement other systems on the site as a whole, such as Access Control / Automation / Powered Door Systems.
We also know a great deal about Surveying and Maintaining Fire Doors to keep them to a compliant standard. Specifying doors at the start increases the life cycle of the door, whilst keeping costs down over the course of its operation. Staying operational for longer also means operating in a compliant state for longer.
Often you will see Georgian wire glass within educational environments, due to its strength and because it helps to prevent glass from shattering causing a health hazard.
Whilst this is true, there are also a wide range of other glass types, providing similar or better strengths whilst also allowing different styles, patterns and functions.
The following have equal protection qualities, yet two aren’t Georgian wire.
Variations of the glass finish can add style, or help determine an area of the site. It can also help transfer light from one environment to another, yet providing an element of privacy.
Anyone who has caught their finger in either side of the door, will know how painful it is. In some instances, it’s something not palatable to think about.
Whilst most Fire Doors will have some kind of mechanism to counter the fast movement of a Fire Door, some may move freely during normal operating hours, making them more susceptible to severe accidents.
Not all Fire Doors in the educational environment will need them, such as service hatches, which have little use. However, most areas that inhabit educational environments should factor these into the equation.
If automation is used on a door, then anti-finger traps are normally mandatory, regardless of the environment, due to the power of the hydraulic mechanisms.
There are too many styles and functions of anti-finger traps to cover in this one topic, but it’s safe to say there are various versions including high security, washable, exterior, interior, and the likes of.
As the name suggests, many doors encounter all types of ‘user interactions’, this no exception in the educational environment.
This isn’t limited to just the younger ‘door operators’. Commercial, health and manufacturing see great benefits from a few simple upgrades.
With Fire Doors, tolerances of door gaps, and conditions of door leaf and hardware are heavily scrutinised. When it comes to Fire Door Surveys, the vast majority of failures come from small discrepancies, such as damage to the door leaf.
We survey 1000s of Fire Doors every year, and over 50% of failures come down to small issues such as these.
Please use sliders to see differences in finish.
Linking Fire Doors to a wider Access Control system has two key benefits.
For more information see our Access Control section.
Hopefully, this article highlights how many stylistic options are available for Fire Doors, and how small changes can make a big difference for the look and feel of the site as a whole.
Fire Doors can be situated in many different areas, therefore each door needs to be specified for that environment.
Once again, this should highlight how Fire Doors are a technical product, which are created to certain standards.
Whilst anyone technically can buy and install a Fire Door, post Grenfell, the installation and maintenance of Fire Doors have become heavily scrutinized, therefore it is advisable to hire 3rd party certified Fire Door Installers / Maintainers, such as POYNTELL.
We have worked within many educational environments and have seen all manner of issues with Fire Doors, even on doors that are freshly installed. If you have any concerns at all, contact us to see how we can help you go from concern to compliant.