Blog: Specifying door closers for social housing projects

Following a leaked report published in the London Evening Standard about the role the lack of functioning door closers played in the spread of the Grenfell fire, Graham Hulland, Product Marketing Manager at dormakaba reviews best practice for specifying door closers – especially in relation to social housing projects.

It has been uncovered that out of the 120 flats in Grenfell Tower, located between floors 4 to 23, only 17% had door closers that were both fitted and working correctly. Despite Building Regulations stating that door closers must be fitted to a flat’s front entrance door, the lack of functioning closers resulted in doors being inadvertently left open during the building’s evacuation – creating “shortcomings in the compartmentation.”

To ensure lessons are learnt and that the events are not repeated, it’s crucial to educate specifiers on how to make a correct specification. Before specifying closers for fire doors in social housing, there are two key factors that should be considered: does it satisfy Approved Document B and does it meet the requirements of the 2010 Equality Act?

However, despite this guidance the legislation can prove quite complex. As such, there are a number of other factors that should be adhered to when specifying to ensure legislative compliance.

Is the door closer CE-marked?
Any door closer being proposed for use on a self-closing fire door in the UK must be CE-marked to BS EN1154. This demonstrates a product’s ability to be suitable for its intended purpose and is required under the EU’s Construction Products Regulations.

Once a door closer has been successfully tested and CE-marked, a Declaration of Performance is issued by the manufacturer that details the in-situ performance of the product. This declaration from the manufacturer ensures the suitability of the door closer for its intended application.

Is the door closer fire tested and third party certificated for the application intended?
To ensure compliance, the door closer must be fire tested to demonstrate that it is suitable for its intended application. The ‘safety in case of fire’ within the CE mark does not detail any specific application; therefore, this classification cannot be applied to any fire door type.

Certifire is a third-party certification scheme that details all applications for which the closer is suitable. The scheme not only certifies that the product meets its intended fire performance, but also that it meets its mechanical performance. Additionally, the scheme requires audit testing of product and factory production control to ensure what is currently supplied is as originally tested.

Does the door closer feature adjustable power and high efficiency?
With residents ranging in both age and physical capabilities, it is imperative that any fire doors in social housing properties are easy to use and do not negatively impinge the access of residents, or there is the risk that they will be removed or disengaged.

An adjustable powered closer enables the device to have its closing force adjusted to the exact requirements of the door to which it is fitted and thus keeping the opening force required to a minimum. With high efficiency units, opening forces are reduced further still, even at the required minimum EN 3 power setting for fire doors. The maximum opening forces allowed for door sets are stated in BS 8300 and Approved Document M of the Building Regulations. To help ensure compliance, door closer torque curves are available from manufacturers that detail the opening force throughout the opening cycle.

Side arm cam action door closers
Whether surface mounted or concealed within the door leaf, cam action slide arm door closers are not only more aesthetically pleasing compared to the traditional arm closers but they are also less intrusive. Cam action mechanisms are also highly efficient and assist in keeping opening forces to a minimum.

Traditional scissor arm closers are more likely to be the subject of vandalism due to their projecting arms. Furthermore, it is possible that the arms of these closers can be bound together – effectively locking the door and preventing its use and possibly preventing escape. Indeed, a simple search of the internet will show a number of tutorials demonstrating how to stop a door closer working effectively.

Concealed fixings?
Specifying adjustable powered concealed door closers or surface units with concealed fixings eliminates the temptation to remove or tamper with the door closer. Exposed fittings serve as an invitation to anyone without any knowledge or experience to remove such a door closer from a fire door.

It is essential that all fire doors comply with all the relevant fire and access legislation to ensure the safety of a building’s occupants. The recommended approach to achieving compliance is by ensuring that all door hardware – particularly door closers – are correctly specified, sourced from reputable suppliers with clear test evidence and a declaration of performance.

To find out more about achieving fire and access compliance, please visit: