“Nobody wants to see their house or business premises go up in flames. This is why there are very strict Regulations when it comes to fire safety and protection against fire in any building in South Africa.” (courtesy of https://www.sans10400.co.za/fire-protection/comment-page-6/)
Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Construction Companies and anyone involved in erecting buildings will know their way around the strict regulations when it comes to Fire Doors. “The bulk of the Standard is made up of a vast number of different “requirements” that relate not only to dwelling houses, but to every other possible type of building, from hospitals to parking garages.” (courtesy of SANS 10400)
Why get a fire door?
Fire doors are a critical safety feature for buildings and they can help slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke. By containing the fire and smoke, they provide additional time for a person to exit the building. Most people only focus on the element of fire, and underestimate the significance of reducing smoke inhalation. However, the majority of people die as a result of smoke inhalation.
Why would I need a fire door?
There are several reasons why a fire door may be required on your premises. The first could be as simple as safety regulations. South African fire safety regulations call on the following:
Occupants must be protected, the spread of the fire must be minimized, the building must be stable enough to avoid the fire spreading elsewhere due to collapse, smoke movement must be limited, and the building must provide adequate access and equipment to battle a fire.
A fire door plays a role in each of those scenarios. Beyond the law, you may have sensitive equipment or archives to keep safe. Though a fire door cannot stop flames indefinitely, it can gain valuable time for emergency services to extinguish the blaze. It can also stop hazardous smoke movement, which is common during a blaze.
Why get an ACOUSTIC fire door?
Fire doors may be designed to stop fires, but not sound. Obviously, fire doors will have a certain amount of ‘sound proofing’ qualities, since they have more mass to block sound, but if you have invested in building a music studio, conference venue, theatre, office, machine room or another acoustically sensitive space, the last thing you need is to have it all ruined by a necessary safety precaution. But the risks of not using a fire door are too great, especially if you hope to protect your investment. Imagine if a fire broke out somewhere else in the building. A fire door will help protect your valuables. An acoustic fire door gives the best of both worlds. You get the right protection, as well as a door that helps manage sound in an environment.
What do I look for in an acoustic fire door?
Fire doors are highly engineered: if one part of the door is not sufficiently treated, the entire door can easily fail. This is why it is key to look for two things: that the door has been certified (tested) to be effective and what class testing it has been rated at. Fire door ratings can vary from country to country. For example, in Europe the FD rating is used. South Africa relies on a ratings system ranked from A to E, each specifying different uses and resiliency. A Class D door can be used as an outside door equivalent to a divisional wall, and it can resist fire for up to 120 minutes.
Acoustic fire doors are also treated for sound. These can be graded by the DnTw rating system, which corresponds to the number of decibels (noise) you wish the door to reduce. To learn more, read our blog ‘Understanding Acoustic Ratings: STC vs RW vs DnTw’.
For example, The Varikust® 105F is the largest Class D fire door tested in South Africa and can block up to 52 decibels of sound.
How do I choose an acoustic fire door?
You should consult a building professional or a competent person fire about the correct door for your use. The right fire door depends on several factors: where the door is placed inside the building, what other fire-prevention is in the building, the size of the building and the number of storeys all have an impact on your choice.
Likewise, consult a professional acoustic specialist to ensure you have the right amount of acoustic control for your requirements. The size of the door is also key: fire doors are thicker than normal doors and will require special door frames.
Acoustic fire doors do not have to look ugly. You can get them in finishes such as wood, so the door won’t ruin the aesthetics of your interior or exterior design.