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Accessibility – Door Controls

Door Controls – the conflict between Fire Safety and Accessibility

In a Fire Door, the primary function of the door closer is to ensure that the door remains closed fully into the frame at all times. The standard covering CE marking of fire door controls BS EN 1154 requires a minimum closing force of 18Nm. This is in stark contrast to the recommendations and guidelines for accessibility. BS 8300 is concerned with ‘ease of opening’ and sets the requirement of 30N as the maximum force required to open the door (measured at the leading edge and opening the door from 0˚ to 30˚. A maximum force of 22.5N is required to open from 30˚ to 60˚). In order to achieve both of these objectives, a door closer or floor spring must have a high degree of efficiency and be capable of power adjustment to find the necessary balance.

A number of additional, external factors must also be taken into account which can adversely affect the opening and closing of the door and therefore impact on the efficiency of the door closing device.

• Poor quality, poorly fitted or misaligned hinges [can account for up to 5N opening resistance]
• Draught or smoke seals [can have up to 10N resistance depending on the fit of the door]
• Acoustic seals [can have a resistance of up to 20N depending on the fit of the door]
• Is the lock case and strike plate accurately fitted and does the latch operate smoothly?
• Air pressure differences due to location in the building can create additional forces to be overcome

The Solutions

In circumstances where opening resistance is too great to meet the requirements of BS 8300, doors can be fitted with an electromagnetic device. Available as either stand-alone units for use with a conventional door closer, or integrated into a door closing device, these units are connected to the building’s fire alarm system. In normal use, the door closer can be temporarily ‘disabled’ so that the door can be either free to swing or held open. The closer resumes its self-closing function in the event of an emergency or when the power is cut.