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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Fire door closers

In most residential units, your front entry door is required to be a fire door (read more about fire doors here).

A fire door is required to self-close and self-latch after every opening. The door cannot be left open as this creates a clear passage for fire to pass through.

In order to achieve the self-closing and self-latching, a fire closer is usually installed on the top inside edge of the door.  The body of the closer will be installed to the door, and the arm of the closer will be attached to the top of the frame.

The closer works by pulling the door back towards the frame when it has been opened. Fire doors are heavy, and sometimes the closer can make the door feel quite heavy to open. They can also cause the doors to slam shut in some cases.

What can I do if my door is slamming?

Fire door closers are all able to be adjusted. The closing speed and latching speed can be adjusted by removing the closer face plate and turning the screws marked for adjustments. As with most things, different brands of closers have different methods for taking the cover off and adjusting the closing strength, so you shouldn’t attempt to adjust your closer if you’re not sure how it works. Civil Fire will adjust your closer if the door is slamming during the annual inspection. Please note though that our priority is making the door compliant, so if the only way to get it to self-close & to self-latch is with a slam, then it must be left as is.

Closers have hydraulic fluid in them, and the door may start to slam shut if the hydraulic fluid is leaking. As long as the door is able to self-close and self-latch then this isn’t a defect for the purpose of the AFSS, but we will still report it to strata as a recommendation.

I want my door to be able to be left open, can I just remove the closer?

If there is a fire in your unit, then the door will slow the spread of the fire to the rest of the building. It won’t be able to perform this essential task if it is left open! The door closer cannot be removed for this reason. The AFSS will not be signed off until the closer has been re-installed. Hold open devices are also not permitted to be installed on fire doors.

So what can I do to make the door feel lighter?

Civil Fire are able to install a Dorma TS 97 Closer on your door. This closer is compliant for use on fire doors and has soft-touch technology that makes the door feel very light to open. This closer is small and unobtrusive, and makes the door feel easy to open even for children, the elderly or people with a disability. The Dorma TS 97 has a heart shaped cam that significantly reduces the torque required to open the door.

The closer speed of the TS 97 can be infinitely adjusted, meaning that you can set it so that the door closes behind you over a period of 30 seconds (or whatever is to your liking) so that you will have plenty of time to make it through the door without needing to hold it open.

The reason that this impressive closer is not installed on every fire door is because of the price. A TS 97 closer retails at around $700 + GST, which is around 3 times higher than a normal door closer. They are also difficult and time consuming to install, which adds to the price tag (Civil Fire price for parts & labour is $1,000 + GST).

Having said that, this closer is an excellent solution if you are struggling with the weight of your fire door. It is of good quality and should last for many years. 

Please put in a request through your strata company if you would like Civil Fire to install a Dorma TS 97 closer on your door.


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