A peek into the world of fire rated doors and windows

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When talking about fire rated doors and windows, you must take into consideration the role of glazing too that plays a crucial role in saving lives and minimizing property damage. Custom fire rated windows and doors assemblies are particularly important as it provides safe egress besides compartmentalizing flames, smoke and if required dangerous radiant heat. The role of glazing is very important for enabling vision and transparency that maximize shared or natural lighting and provides additional security to areas that would otherwise be isolated.  However, the fire safety requirement of glazing is different from that of the doors and windows.

Fire doors save lives

The purpose of fire doors is to prevent the fire from spreading into the areas protected by fire rated doors that have various capabilities of resisting fire. The ability to withstand fire for a particular time is the fire rating of the doors and windows that can vary from 20 minutes and can go up in steps of 45, 60, 90, and 180 minutes. It will be correct to term fire resistant doors as door systems because it works in conjunction with the frame, hardware, and glazing to create a composite barrier to fire. Therefore, each of the components of the door frame and glazing is equally important for protecting the area from fire.  The choice of fire rating depends on the fire rating of the wall, and unless the two are matching or in close proximity, it could reduce the impact of fire resistance.

Adherence to codes

Fire rated doors and windows are an integral part of building construction and hence must comply with the applicable building codes. It must also adhere to the safety codes that ensure proper protection to life and property in the event of a fire. In addition, fire rated door assemblies go through rigorous testing that certifies the fire resisting capabilities of the units.

Fire door construction

Fire door denoted as FD30 means its fire rating is 30 minutes, and the door is usually 45 mm thick against the standard door thickness of 35 mm. This type of door is good for domestic settings. For commercial establishments, the minimal requirement is FD60 equivalent to 60 minutes fire retardation for which 54 mm door thickness is necessary. For higher fire ratings that can withstand fire for up to 4 hours, you must go for custom made doors and windows.

Typical fire doors have a solid core construction made from solid timber, flax board, chipboard, particle board or even steel. However, the assembly or the fire door system can come in varied combination like timber framing around the core complete with laminated veneer. Some others might have a lipping around the core 5-20 mm thick with a veneer on top. In some cases, they adopt the technique of fixing plywood, veneer or MDF facing to the core with glue without using lippings or framing.  

Fire rated door construction does not follow any preferred method, but anything that adheres to the codes and guidelines and passes the testing successfully could stand up as the desired solution.