Do Fire Doors Need To Be Self-Closing?

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Do Fire Doors Need To Be Self-Closing?

Most internal fire doors are kept shut at all times thanks to a self-closing mechanism, and even in instances where a fire door needs to be held open, that same functionality is still found. This begs the question of whether all fire doors need to be self-closing.

This month, we’ll look at self-closing doors and the legal requirements surrounding them, but first, let’s take a look at the basics of fire doors and how the self-closing mechanism works.

Internal fire door - LW Safety

What are fire doors?

It may already be obvious from the name, but fire doors are built to resist fire for longer periods than normal doors. This means that, when they’re closed, they can slow the spread of fire and smoke, giving anyone inside the building more time to evacuate safely.

Who needs fire doors?

Fire doors are required by law in all non-domestic premises. If you run any type of commercial operation, whether it’s in retail, manufacturing or any other industry, your building will need fire doors. This is part of your duty in line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which requires building operators to put in place measures to limit the spread of fire and smoke in an emergency.

Likewise, multiple occupancy buildings and flats are required by law to have fire doors – this is set out in Building Regulations Approved Document B2, while a fire risk assessment can help to establish which doors in the building need to be fire doors. The initial identification of which fire doors are required should be part of a building’s Fire Strategy document, something created at the design or refurbishment stage, but since this is not always available to the current occupier, a fire risk assessment should factor fire doors and compartmentation into the process.

Most ordinary houses and bungalows are not required by law to have fire doors, however, there are certain Building Regulations that may come into play, e.g. doors that lead directly from a garage into your home.

How do self-closing doors work?

All fire doors should come with a closer. These are the metal arms that you see above a door allowing the door to swing closed – in a measured manner – at all times. This is the most common type, while other self-closing mechanisms work via specially designed door hinges. However, the hinge door closers do not conform to BS EN 1158 and so will be limited to certain areas and routes in a building.

Fire doors should not be blocked or wedged open, as this would negate the self-closing functionality, allowing a fire to spread should one break out. However, you can get self-closing doors that can be held open for high-traffic areas of a building. These doors will use an electromagnetic device or hold-open device to keep the door open, but when a fire alarm is activated, the door will be released to close and create a sealed barrier. These retainers should also have a manual release fitted.

The benefits of self-closing fire doors

Self-closing fire doors come with three major benefits:

  • The ability to automatically close and create a tight seal from any angle
  • Despite being heavier than standard doors, the self-closing mechanism ensures they are easy to open so that even those with disabilities or mobility issues can still use them
  • They can be fitted to be held open with automatic closing triggered in an emergency

Self-closing fire doors: the legal requirements

Almost all fire doors should be fitted with a closer. The exceptions to this are for fire doors that lead to service ducts or a locked cupboard – these should be fitted with the appropriate fire signage: ‘Fire Door Keep Locked Shut’. 

Your door closers should conform with BS EN 1154: 1997 Building Hardware – Controlled Door Closing Devices and should be able to close either to engage a latch or to fit the door into the frame. In both instances, they should create the seal required for fire resistance.


At LW Safety, we provide fire door supply and installation for businesses and multiple occupancy buildings across Wembley, Harrow and Uxbridge. Our expert team can also conduct fire risk assessments to help you establish which doors in your building need to be fire doors if you’re unsure.

For more expert advice and assistance with your fire doors, call today. We can provide a quick quote for fire doors in buildings of all sizes, large or small.

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