Fire doors are normally required to include a self-closing mechanism to ensure they will perform their function in case of a fire. The closing mechanism must be strong enough to close the door against any smoke seals (and acoustic seals if fitted) and, where appropriate, latch it. But opening a door against the force of a such a closer can be difficult for many people including disabled and infirm, those in wheelchairs or with walking aids, with young children, with luggage, hospital trolleys etc. The requirement for reliable closing and ease of opening can be difficult to achieve in practice.
In such cases the initial force required to open the door is likely to exceed the maximum of 30N set by Building Regulations Approved Document M for accessibility. Therefore, where doors are required to comply with Part M a powered opening/closing system will probably be necessary. See illustration below, and for more information see Shadbolt drawing Spec-645
In some cases the selection of a high-efficiency door closer with suitable latch, hinges and seals enables the requirements to be met with a conventional (non-powered) closer arrangement. Alternative solutions include:
A powered door opening and closing system controlled by various manual or automatic activation methods.
Where the door can normally be left open, electro-magnetic hold-open devices with door release automatically activated by the fire alarm system.
Access standards are controlled by the following.
The Equality Act 2010 replaces the Disability Discrimination Act and other legislation. It requires reasonable provision in the design of buildings to make them accessible to everyone, particularly where there is public access or people are employed.
Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013 Access to and use of buildings. This applies to new buildings and alterations in England and Wales, which must comply with Approved Document M to satisfy the Equality Act. It includes requirements for door widths, opening and closing forces, size and position of glazed panels, visual contrast and threshold height.
BS 8300: 2009 (amended 2010) Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. Code of practice.
This gives good practice design guidance and covers additional points not in Approved Document M.
BS 1154: 1997 Building hardware. Controlled door closing devices.
Deals with performance of door closers.