Security screens on fire doors

Firstly and importantly – Fire and Rescue New South Wales advise against the fitting of security screens to fire doors, although it really is a BCA compliance issue.

There are several issues with security screens…

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Fire Rated Ceilings: A resident’s guide

Can I install downlights, ducted air conditioning, ceiling exhaust fans or manholes in my unit ceiling?
Well yes… but you need to be very careful if your ceiling designed to have a “resistance to the incipient spread of fire to the roof space for a period of not less than 60 minutes”.
Fire rated ceilings are an fire safety measure, designed to slow the spread of fire from one part of the building to another.

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Passive Fire Protection

Passive Fire measures are designed to stop (or slow) the spread of fire from one part of the building to another. Most buildings have Passive Fire protection measures – even if they are not specifically listed on the AFSS.

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Emergency Lights

In an emergency situation emergency lights should run on their backup battery for at least 90-minutes. Australian Standards require that exit & emergency lights be tested every 6 months. Exit and emergency lights have a shorter lifespan when compared to non-emergency lights.

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A resident's guide to fire doors

Most people don’t realise that the front entry door to their unit is actually required to have a fire rating. Other doors in your unit may also be required to be fire rated if they lead to a public space (e.g. to a carpark).

Sole Occupancy Units (SOUs) in residential buildings are usually separate fire compartments to their neighbours and the shared corridors. This means that the walls will have a fire rating, and if you put a hole in the wall with a door, it must also be protected. The reasoning behind this is that if there is a fire in a unit, we want the fire to be trapped in the unit and not to spread throughout the rest of the building (the smoke alarm will have already alerted the resident to escape).

What does this mean for residents?

Your fire contractor will need to check the door once per year at the annual fire inspection. Very generally speaking, the fire door needs to be able to self-close & self-latch from every point of the open swing of the door, and it needs to be tight fitting in the frame. We are also checking to make sure no additional non-compliant hardware has been installed.

Here is an outline of what we are looking for. This is determined by the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Australian Standard for components for the protection of openings – AS1905.1.

What about asbestos?

If your building was constructed from the 1960s-1980s, then there is a chance that your fire door may contain asbestos. 

Asbestos is not harmful as long as the fibres are contained inside the core of the door. This means that repairs that involve drilling into the door cannot be completed on an asbestos door – the door needs to be replaced.

Only a business with a Friable Asbestos Removal Licence from SafeWork NSW with specially trained staff can undertake asbestos door removals. An air monitoring company must also be engaged to ensure no asbestos fibres are released into the air during the removal process. The disposal of asbestos doors is also very regulated and specific and a lot of extra administration work is required. These things all contribute to making asbestos door replacements more expensive than regular door replacements.

Civil Fire is fully licenced to undertake friable asbestos door replacements.

Can I install additional hardware on my fire door?

In short, the answer to this question is no.

Hardware refers to the additional equipment that is installed on the door, including locksets, hinges, pivots, closers & peep holes (to name a few). 

Any hardware that is installed on a fire door must be tested and approved for us one that particular brand of fire door. This eliminates a lot of hardware that may be appropriate for use on a non-fire rated door, such as a digital lockset.

Any piece of hardware that could stop the door from self-closing and self-latching, such as a deadbolt hold open device or door guard, is also not permitted.

Do not install any additional hardware to your fire door unless you are sure it has been approved by the manufacturer. You should avoid modifying your fire door in any way. Call Civil Fire on 9906 1626 for further information.

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