Monday 6 May 2019

Concealment can improve Fire Safety

Fire safety, quite rightly, is high on the agenda of every building project, whether new build or refurbishment. 

It is governed by a host of legislation, performance standards, regulations and orders that place responsibilities on professionals involved in the design, construction and management of all types of property, as well as on the manufacturers of products used in the building process.

As a vital component in the performance of a fire door, door closers are not immune to the requirements imposed by the various instruments governing fire safety, and special care needs to be taken when selecting products for different projects.

From a performance perspective, door closers which carry the CE mark are essential. This is assured by compliance with BS EN 1154 in the case of controlled door closing devices.

BS EN 1154 includes a number of requirements, chief amongst which are successful fire testing to BS EN 1634-1 and cycle testing to at least 500,000 opening/closing cycles, which is equivalent to ten years in a high usage environment and should, reasonably, be expected to be covered by a manufacturer’s product warranty. It should also be noted that only door closers of power size three and above are suitable for use on fire doors.

In addition to the areas of product performance covered by legislation and standards, the selection process should also include the consideration of other factors which can have a bearing on the door closer’s ability to perform reliably throughout its life: -


Failure of a door closer can lead to failure of the entire fire door to perform the duty for which it is intended; to keep fire and smoke at bay.

Cycle testing certainly provides some assurance of a product’s durability, but other factors can also come into play. The need to properly maintain the door closer during its life can impose an undesirable burden on building managers; some door closers, such as Powermatic are designed to be maintenance-free and come with ten-year warranties for added assurance.

Additionally, if a door closer is damaged, either through some misplaced prank, tampering or a deliberate act of vandalism, this too can have a detrimental effect on the fire door’s performance, perhaps even stopping the fire door from working all together.

In social housing flats and HMOs, educational establishments, student accommodation, healthcare facilities and other public buildings, such risks, whether accidental or deliberate, are significantly higher than in other properties.

Powermatic jamb-mounted door closers are a viable solution in such situations. Totally concealed when the door is closed, they fit neatly between the door and frame and, unlike surface-mounted devices, have minimal visible components. Door closers such as Powermatic are less likely to be damaged, thereby enhancing the reliability of the door closer itself as well as the fire door.


The risk of self-harm can be present in any door installation that is not constantly monitored or where vulnerable persons are present. In psychiatric facilities and secure accommodation facilities the risks are clear, and the incorporation of anti-ligature and anti-barricade systems widespread.

However, there are situations where such specialised measures may not be appropriate but where the risk may still be deemed worthy of consideration, such as social housing, student accommodation and educational establishments.

Powermatic’s total concealment, as well as the absence of surface mounted control arms and boxes, obviously mean that the door closer is out of sight when the door is closed, thereby reducing the opportunity for self-harm. The door closer is also recommended for use with many proprietary anti-ligature and anti-barricade systems.

Making the right choice

When selecting the right door closer for any fire door situation, the first task will always be to ensure that the product meets relevant fire performance requirements and has the appropriate accreditations. Further assurance can be gained by seeking genuine, independent third-party certification, by ensuring that manufacturers’ claims are clear and unambiguous and by selecting products from a manufacturer with a reputation for quality and reliability.

Once these criteria have been satisfied, skill and judgement need to be applied in interpreting regulations correctly and considering less rigid criteria, such as reliability, maintenance requirements and other factors that can have a significant influence on the safety of a building’s occupants.

Powermatic door closers carry the CE mark, assuring their suitability for use on fire doors. They are also the only Certifire jamb-mounted door closers. They also deliver additional benefits which enhance fire door reliability and provide the convenience in operation to assure a building’s fire safety

British designed and manufactured to the highest standards of quality and engineering excellence, they not only deliver reliable performance but also provide safety to a building’s occupants whilst minimising maintenance costs. On a whole-life costing model, Powermatic can prove to be a worthwhile investment for fire door applications in all types of building.

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