Should fire doors be kept shut?
Yes. Most fire doors are labelled ‘Fire Door, Keep Shut’ which provides the clearest answer to this question, but even those without signage should remain closed.
To repel fire for at least 30 minutes (or ideally an hour with FD60 doors), stop smoke travelling through the building and prevent a ‘chimney’ effect from accelerating the spread of flames and fumes, a fire door must not be wedged or propped open.
Is it illegal to prop open a fire door?
Legally, public buildings must have ‘properly installed and maintained fire doors’. By definition, using pots, weights, wedges and door stops to prevent them from closing fully renders fire doors instantly redundant, and therefore illegal.
Can a fire door be wedged open at all?
Not without the appropriate devices fitted. If a fire door is wedged open, and is found to be putting lives at risk (a propped open fire door will almost always be judged to be doing so), fines and even prison sentences can be imposed. This is a particularly common if the worst happens, but penalties can be imposed for unsatisfactory safety standards even if no emergency occurs.
Insurance companies are also likely to reject claims if a fire door is found to have been kept open prior to and/or during a blaze. In a vicious cycle, damage is likely to be much more severe when a premises’ compartmentation is compromised.
If you need to keep fire doors open for accessibility or ventilation, the only acceptable way to do this is by fitting certified hold open devices, closers and retainers. These devices automatically close the door if a fire alarm is activated, maintaining compartmentation and rendering the door fully operational and in turn compliant.