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A family member is having some major remodeling planned on an end-terraced house. The builder's plans apparently are calling for fire doors on essentially every interior doorway - bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, any other partition between rooms, etc.

I've seen the type of door and it feels quite solid, has a sealing strip around it, and and auto-close mechanism (spring?). They certainly seem fit for purpose but are also: expensive, somewhat difficult to operate, noisy, and sometimes seem almost hazardous because of the auto-close. Aside from annoyances a concern is how well elderly people will be able to handle them.

Are fire doors actually required for ALL interior doorways? I can see the logic for specific areas like the kitchen, but on small bathrooms (for instance) its hard to see the rationale.

I'd like to understand what are the actual legal requirements / building regulations so that we can understand what areas have some design flexibility and which do not. No one is looking to undermine safety, just understand the available options.

Thanks

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    @isherwood yes, single family; I tagged it UK but more specifically england Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 21:14

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In England, the regulation is Approved Document B of the Building Regulations 2019

In Wales, Approved Document B of the Building Regulations (Wales) and amendments

In Scotland, Part 2 Building Standards technical handbook 2017

In Northern Ireland, Technical Booklets

In general fire doors are not required inside dwellings of one or two storeys. In a three storey dwelling (including loft conversion or basement) fire doors are required on doorways to the protected stair and corridor leading to the final exit.

In some circumstances a sprinkler system may be allowed as an alternative to protect the final exit route instead of fire doors.

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@Owain links to the actual regulations, so please adhere to them and not to me.

We had our loft converted a couple of years ago, and had to change all internal doors to bedrooms, the lounge, dining room and kitchen. There was no requirement to do so on the bathroom, or a door off the kitchen leading to a utility room. For aesthetics, we changed them, but to save a few pennies, made them style-matching, but not fire rated.

There is no longer a requirement to make fire doors self-closing (at least, there wasn't for us). Once you had to spring them all, but door wedges become prevalent, and so the theoretical benefit was lost and the requirement was dropped (or so I was told - double check to be certain!). I'll also add that "hidden" springs inside the doors impact their fire resistance, so don't add them to doors that aren't designed for it!

FWIW, we replaced our doors with oak fire doors, and the kitchen doors with a glazed oak door pair (there were specific requirements for double doors). You'd imagine being oak they'd be on the heavier end of the scale, and if memory serves, each door was about 40Kg. I can't speak for all elderly people, but the grandparents seem to have no trouble with the replacement doors. As a middle aged man, I honestly can't say they feel at all heavy or difficult to push/stop or whatever. The kids don't seem to struggle either.

I'll also say that the mounting of the doors makes a difference - the old 1930s doors (thin, not very heavy) didn't move nearly as well as the new doors that have been fitted (I think) very competently. If you have the proper hinges, and things are done right, then the weight of the door should have little impact on its usability.

For the double doors into the kitchen, our local authority inspector mandated we buy doors "made as a pair", which have factory installed smoke seals. They wouldn't accept two separate doors mounted together, but when asked, went as far as to give us some Internet links of examples they would accept.

If after you've read the regulations you still have questions, my experience of the local authority inspectors was that whilst very busy, they were very helpful and constructive. Ultimately they want you to build things they can sign-off, so its good for them to make sure you do it right first time. They may be able to help clarify things for you, or your builder.

Last thing... where you do choose to replace non-fire rated doors, you may want to think a little. The very cheapest doors are essentially some thin plywood sheets with cardboard between them - which will happily catch fire in a heartbeat. At the other end of the scale are rated fire doors which offer at least 30 minutes of protection - there's no harm putting these where you don't strictly need them, but I personally wouldn't want one of those cardboard things anywhere in my house - even if the room its on had a second exit out of the house. It'll probably come down to budget, but worth thinking it through a little before "cheaping out" on something you may regret later.

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