Certifying Fire Resistant Doors
Fire resistant doors are one of the most important safety features of any building, but what does it actually take for a door to become certified as fire resistant? Fire Resistance Level or FRL, is a measure of a door’s fire rating and is an extremely important factor in ensuring that a door is compliant with the Building Code of Australia.
Fire resistant doors are essential to ensure the safety of the occupants of a building, but before they can be fitted, doors must be tested according to stringent guidelines to make sure that they are up to the job.
The National Construction Code of Australia states that doors that are to be used for fire-resistant purposes must be tested to certain specifications namely AS1530.4, to make sure that they meet the correct standards. After this, they are given a certification in the form of a ‘’fire resistance level’ (FRL)
It is important to distinguish between a fire rating and an FRL. Often these terms are used interchangeably, however, they do not indicate the same thing. A doors ‘FRL’ is formed from three different test scores, not just an individual ‘fire rating’, so it’s important to be able to differentiate these factors.
What Factors Form a Door’s Fire Resistance Level?
The Building Code of Australia declares that a Fire Resistance Level is graded by a period of minutes for three separate criteria these are: Structural adequacy, integrity and insulation. These are tested to the Australian standard AS1530.4, which measures methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures.
The Fire Resistant Level is expressed as SA/INT/INS, and is representative of these three categories. So how are these factors certified?
SA or structural adequacy refers to a structures ability to hold its load bearing capacity when tested in accordance with the standards. The measure is failed when the element collapses or when the rate of deflection for the element exceeds limits as stated by AS1530.4.
Integrity is a door’s capacity to resist flames as well as hot gases when tested in accordance with the appropriate standards. A fail is declared when flaming begins to be continuous on the non-exposed side of the door, or if cracks or other openings form.
Insulation is a measure of a door’s ability to maintain a low temperature on the side of the door not exposed to flames. This temperature is determined by the standards stated in AS1530.4 and failure ensures when the temperature of the non-exposed side raises above the predetermined threshold.
The time it takes, recorded in minutes before a failure in each of these categories makes up the score of the FRL. If a door is required to maintain an FRL of 90/30/60, it means the test requires structural adequacy for 60 minutes, integrity for 90 minutes and insulation for 60 minutes, tested by the standards dictated in AS1530.4.
Types of Tests
Fire resistant doors are put through their paces through a number of strict tests that measure their resistance in the presence of fire. There are two main types of tests, passive and active tests.
• Passive tests measure a door’s ability to contain fire smoke and gas.
• Active tests trial certain hardware that is designed to operate during the event of a fire.
In the context of a fire resistant door, there will be specific tests depending on the characteristic of the door. These include:
• The type of door (swinging fire door, sliding fire door or hinged fire door).
• The material of the door
• The fire resistance required from the door for each factor i.e. 1 hour, 3 hours etc.
In Australia, fire doors and components are only tested and certified by accredited testing authorities like the CSIRO. The National Association of Testing Authorities is responsible for governing testing regulations in Australia.
FSE Special Purpose Doors are experts in all aspects of door manufacture and installation and have particular expertise in fire doors, custom fire doors, solid core doors, heritage door upgrades, acoustic doors, and radiation shielded doors. We supply and deliver fire doors to Sydney and throughout Australia.