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Fire Doors for schools & the education sector

Date: 13/03/2023 | Format: Article | Read: 15 mins

Fire Doors for schools & education sector

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.


5 key functions of a Fire Door in an educational setting

  1. Providing egress from one environment to the next.
  2. Reducing the spread of heat, smoke and fire throughout a building in the instance of a fire breaking out.
  3. Creating a barrier for sound, odours and general airflow.
  4. Controlling access to certain areas of the building.
  5. Providing function and design to inspire students to excel.


In this article we will cover

Fire Door styles & finishes in the education environment

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.

Use the sliders to see the different ironmongery finishes

Satin stainless steel ironmongery Satin rose gold ironmongery Satin black ironmongery Gold ironmongery

For more inspiration on Fire Door styles see the following pages:

SEN / DDA / Equality

Disabled lady and two mothers with children trying to gain access to a Fire Door

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.

Examples of user access types could include

  • SEN (Special Educational Needs).
  • Wheelchair users.
  • Pregnant women and pushchairs.
  • Students or teachers who may have injured themselves.
  • People carrying heavy goods, or with no hands-free.
  • The elderly.

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.


British Standards

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.

Key hardware requirements

  • Lever handles & Pull handles – Specified to BS 8300, to lend itself to all users.
  • Grab rails – where appropriate e.g. accessible bathrooms and toilets.
  • Thresholds – not invasive enough to restrict wheelchair access, or cause any trip hazards.
  • Effective clear width through a doorway – minimum widths are respected, depending on use.
  • Door automation – on high-traffic areas, or areas of importance.
  • Locking – both manual and digital locking to be of appropriate specification, for instance for the visually impaired.
  • Panic and emergency exit hardware – providing clear and easy egress in case of emergency.
  • Door entry systems – entry phones, access control and associated systems to have appropriate functionality.
  • Visually contrasting hardware – signage and hardware should be easily identified e.g. contrast of door handle and door leaf finish.

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.

Hardware Suggestions

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.

Hardware Suggestions Index

  • Glass strength
  • Anti-finger trap
  • Kickplate
  • Hold open
  • Heavy-duty hardware
  • Access control

Glass strength

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.

Traditional Georgian wire glass Patterned Security Glass Clear Security Glass

Patterned, coloured and stencilled glass

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.

Anti-Finger traps

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.


Examples of where Anti-Finger Traps are useful:

  • Heavy doors – heritage or otherwise.
  • Areas prone to strong gusts.
  • Special educational needs (SEN).
  • Younger age groups.
  • Automated Doors


Fire Door kick plate stainless steel

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.

Examples of where kick plates can be useful:

  • High traffic areas.
  • Canteens and other areas which handle goods going in and out of an area.
  • Maintenance and servicing areas.
  • Where protection is needed to conserve the building as a whole e.g. heritage/conservation.
  • To add style continuity from one environment to another.

Stylised Kickplates

Please use sliders to see differences in finish.

Printed plastic kick plate White plastic kick plate Clear plastic kick plate

Fire Door Access Control

Linking Fire Doors to a wider Access Control system has two key benefits.

  1. Doors and certain areas of a building can be locked for some people/equipment, during certain times of the day/week.
  2. Separate control of access can be deployed during a fire/emergency, to allow safe passage for users throughout the site.
fire door access control legend
Control of access active Fire alarm active, removing control of access

Key benefits of adding access control to your Fire Door infrastructure

  • Limiting access - Sensitive areas, such as staff rooms and chemical cupboards.
  • Departments/buildings – Locking out certain users depending on year group or ‘user groups’. This could apply for certain times of the day, or restricted weekend use.
  • Facilities - Users will have access to only the facilities associated with their access rights. For example, gym facilities or year-group privileges.
  • Hands-Free - Can work in conjunction with Hands-Free powered closing, which can help with SEN & DDA / Equality.
  • Child safeguarding - Quick and easy to change user rights, as updating one system can often update the whole site in real-time. This can work well for bad behaviour or more serious events such as terror attacks.
  • Free swing - Enabling ‘free swing’ for some doors during certain hours. This can reduce wear on doors and less effort is required to open doors during peak hours, such as pick-up times.
  • Hold open / powered shut - Hold open or powered shut functions can be set for certain times. This can increase airflow or reduce noise and odour travelling throughout the building.
  • Equipment - Equipment can also have separate access control media, reducing equipment going ‘walk abouts’. The same can be said for cars or other vehicles and can be integrated into barrier systems and the likes of.
  • Reporting - If required, reporting can be set up on the movements of people throughout the site. This could highlight more efficient timetables or general management of people moving throughout the site. It can also be used to track potential whereabouts in case of an incident for example if a student accused of assault was even in that area at the time.


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.

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