The importance of smoke door regulations
Smoke doors are an essential part of any fire-safe infrastructure, as they prevent smoke from travelling between separated areas, buildings and other areas where employees, occupants or the public may be at risk.
Adhering to smoke door regulations is an important step in making sure that employees, occupants and the public are protected when there is a risk of fire. Here we revisit these important guidelines and discuss why they are so important.
Why are smoke door regulations important?
Smoke compartmentation is a mandated requirement of the Australian NCC and most building codes and regulatory authorities overseas. Smoke sealing helps provide a physical barrier that impedes the spread of toxic fumes and smoke from one room to another. Smoke sealed doors also helps protect egress routes allowing occupants a safe passage when exiting the building during a fire alarm emergency. As such, it can be seen that smoke doors are a potentially life-saving aspect of your infrastructure.
Specification C3.4 of the building code states that “smoke doors must be constructed so that smoke will not pass* from one side of the doorway to the other” and provides the set of guidelines seen below.
A smoke door of one or two leaves satisfies Clause 3.1 if it is constructed as follows:
(a) The leaves are side-hung to swing—
(i) in the direction of egress; or
(ii) in both directions.
(b) (i) The leaves are capable of resisting smoke at 200°C for 30 minutes.
(ii) Solid-core leaves* at least 35 mm thick satisfy (i).
(c) The leaves are fitted with smoke seals.
(d) (i) The leaves are normally in the closed position; or
(ii) (A) The leaves are closed automatically with the automatic closing operation initiated by smoke detectors, installed in accordance with the relevant provisions of AS 1670.1, located on each side of the doorway not more than 1.5 m horizontal distance from the doorway; and
(B) in the event of power failure to the door, the leaves fail-safe in the closed position.
(e) The leaves return to the fully closed position after each manual opening.
(f) Any glazing incorporated in the door complies with AS 1288.
(g) (i) If a glazed panel is capable of being mistaken for an unobstructed exit, the presence of the glass must be identified by opaque construction.
(ii) An opaque mid-height band, mid-rail or crash bar satisfies (i).
*The specification creates some confusion, particularly with regard to the perceived zero smoke leakage requirement and that “solid core” door construction remains undefined.
Smoke doors are essential for containing smoke in the event of a fire, so it is essential to install them as part of your fire safety plan. In order to maintain smoke-proof doors, it must be made sure that:
• All door leaves, frames and hardware continue to uphold their required fire resistance rating (in accordance with AS1905).
• All door openers continue to function as designed, with self-closing and latching mechanisms completely functioning.
• All clearances on the edges of the door continue to be compliant with regulations and have not been altered.
• Doors have not been damaged, split, warped, misaligned or altered in any way that could affect their functionality in blocking smoke or gases in the event of a fire
Inspections & Signage
Smoke door inspections are mandatory bi-annually to ensure that doors still comply with the Building Code of Australia, and should be carried out by the appropriate certified authorities.
Signage is another important component of smoke door regulation and maintenance. The correct signage should accompany the appropriate doors at all time, based on the requirements set by the Building Code of Australia. The correct smoke door sign should identify the door as such and instruct occupants not to obstruct the door. In NSW it is mandatory for the door to display the penalties relating to Fire Doors, Smoke Doors and Fire Exits.