Fire Door or Fire Exit – What’s the Difference?

In last week’s blog we made a brief mention of a question we get asked regularly: fire door or fire exit, what’s the difference?

It seems like a simple question, however the technical terms do often get mixed up given that they’re both commonly referred to as ‘fire doors’. It can become confusing, especially as a landlord, when it comes to knowing what you need to install and where. We’re often being asked to quote for the installation of a new ‘fire door’, at which point our own questions begin.

As a result, this week we thought we’d break down the facts and features of a fire exit and a fire rated door once and for all.

Fire-rated doors

The first and most important distinction between a fire exit and a fire-rated door is where they’re used. A fire-rated door is for internal use only; that is, it will open into another area of the building rather than leading outside. Its purpose is to achieve the following:

  • A fire-rated door will slow the spread of a fire by compartmentalising it within one area of the building (a specific communal area, dwelling or corridor, for instance)
  • A fire-rated door will protect other areas of the building from becoming endangered, which could allow an escape route to be kept open or create a safe passage for people to escape through

All in all, ensuring your communal doors are fire-rated couldn’t be more important – and it could save lives.

Fire exits

Now, in the same way that fire-rated doors are to protect the internal integrity of a building, a fire exit is always an external door – meaning it leads to the outside. Unlike fire-rated doors, whose job it is to stop or slow the fire, fire exits don’t need to be fire resistant; they’re simply a means to a quick and unobstructed egress from the building in question. And they should always open in the direction of traffic flow, so as to allow for as easy a passage as possible.

Naturally, both fire-rated doors and fire exits are regularly referred to as “fire doors” – which is unhelpful if you’re a well-intentioned landlord who’s trying to comply with regulations. As fire risk assessors, it’s something we come up against often – and we’re always happy to help educate our clients to ensure the safety of your properties. Rely on us to know what you mean, even when you don’t entirely – after all, we’re fire safety experts for a reason.

To learn more about Excel’s fire door survey and installation services, get in touch.