Operating Fire Doors In An Emergency

red fire exit door with exit handle

Fire doors are a legal requirement in commercial settings. You’re likely to find them in offices, schools, hospitals and other environments where fire safety is important. However, they will only be effective when used correctly. We’ve put together this quick guide to help you make sure you’re operating your doors safely in the event of a fire.

How Fire Doors Work

The purpose of a fire door is for it to close tightly when the alarm is raised. This creates a barrier which prevents the fire from spreading throughout the building. The door will only be able to hold off flames for a limited time, but it should be enough to allow people to safely evacuate the building.

The closing mechanism is at the top of the door, which ensures that every time the door is opened, it is safely closed again without needing to be touched.

There are also intumescent strips on the edges of the door frame. These expand with heat, so when a fire breaks out, the heat actually works to improve the seal on the door. This means that the fire and smoke can be held behind the doors for longer.

The Difference Between Fire Doors & Fire Exit Doors

Fire exit doors have a few differences. They don’t necessarily need to be able to hold fire back, although many of them do. The most important feature of a fire exit door is that it’s quick and easy to use for an escape. This is why they are operated with steel bars that run across the centre. They’re simple to push and allow the door to swing open.

double leaf wide fire exit doors

Can You Wedge The Door Open?

You cannot wedge open a fire door with a door wedge. This defeats the purpose of the door and poses a huge safety risk. If you need to prop your fire doors open, you can fit them with an approved device. These devices are triggered when a fire alarm is raised. As soon as the alarm goes off, the approved device will cease to wedge the door open, so it can shut safely.

Can Fire Doors Have Glass Panes?

Yes, it’s common to have fire doors with glass panels. However, it’s very important that the glass is fire safe, well-fitted and regularly maintained. Any cracks in the glass will significantly reduce the effectiveness of the doors, so the panel will need replacing straight away.


Every fire door must have at least 3 fire safe hinges to be legally compliant. By fire safe hinges, we mean that they won’t fall off and can withstand the weight of the door even when a fire breaks out.

Fire Safety Signs

All of these doors must be correctly labelled on both sides. This is so that people know not to wedge the door open using unapproved methods. It also indicates that the door must not be obstructed or tampered with.

For Fire Doors, Choose Andrew Colwill

We supply and fit a range of doors for the commercial sector, including fire exit doors. Get in touch with our team today if you’d like to discuss any of our products.

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