How Often Should Fire Doors Be Checked

Understanding the crucial role of fire doors and inspections: from Grenfell's tragedy to regular checks. It's more than fire door regulations — it's safeguarding lives.
Mar 13, 2024
11 minutes read

Every year, countless lives are saved thanks to fire doors. But, like any frequently-used equipment, wear and tear can affect the effectiveness of doors.

How often should these doors be checked? Regularly and thoroughly. Unfortunately, we know the reasons why.

In this blog post we will cover:

  • The life-saving significance of fire doors
  • Key components and functions of fire doors
  • Inspection frequencies and recognising wear signs.

Grenfell Tower

The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 is a heart-wrenching reminder of what can happen when fire safety is overlooked. 72 lives were lost, highlighting the vital role of every aspect of fire protection, including fire doors. Investigations later revealed numerous fire safety lapses, such as issues with fire doors.

This tragedy underscores the importance of regular inspection and maintenance of fire doors—it's not just about regulations; it's about saving lives.

Understanding the Importance of Fire Doors

What is a fire door? Fire doors are foundational to passive fire protection. Their primary function is to confine and slow down the spread of fire and smoke. In doing so, they provide occupants with additional escape time and mitigate property damage.

When well-maintained, these doors act as barriers against fire, preventing minor incidents from escalating into major disasters.

What is a Fire Door?

A fire door isn't confined to the door leaf, it encapsulates multiple components, such as:

  1. Door leaf
  2. Frame
  3. Intumescent strips and cold smoke seals
  4. Glazing
  5. Ironmongery

All these parts work together to withhold fire and its effects. A damaged or non-compliant fire door, on the other hand, can undermine its intended fire resistance.

How Often Should Fire Doors Be Checked?

Doors deteriorate, and this can occur since they are used along pedestrian transit routes where they might be subject to damage or normal wear and tear.

To maintain their efficacy, fire doors need consistent checks.

Fire door regulations and standards you need to know:

Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:

  1. Requires fire-resisting doors and escape doors to be correctly installed and maintained adequately.
  2. The frequency of inspections should be determined by the risk to the safety of people and the expected usage of the doors.
  3. Specific recommendations are given in BS 9999:2017.

BS:9999: Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings:

Recommends that fire doors should be inspected at least every six months to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

The Fire Safety Regulations (England) 2022: Regulation 10

For residential buildings over 11 metres in height in England, it is a legal requirement for 'responsible persons' for these buildings to:

  • Undertake quarterly fire door inspections of all fire doors in the common parts.
  • Undertake (on a best endeavour basis) annual fire door inspections of all flat entrance doors leading to a building's common parts.

Simply put:

  • Fire doors should undergo a basic fire door survey at least every six months – whatever the height of the building.
  • In high-traffic areas or places with increased wear and tear, more frequent checks are recommended.
  • If your residential property is over 11 metres in height, you are legally required to have quarterly inspections of communal doors, and annual inspections of flat entrance doors.

Recognising Signs of Fire Door Wear and Tear

Spotting a faulty fire door isn't always straightforward. It can usually take shape in two ways:

  1. Damage to the leaf or the components making up the assembly;
  2. Wear in the door hardware, or a reduction in the effectiveness of fixings, causing the door to fail to self-close and thereby resulting in a breach of the fire barrier.

Who is Responsible for Fire Door Checks?

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), the person responsible for the fire door checks is the responsible person for the premises. The responsible person can be the employer, the owner, the landlord, the managing agent, an occupier or anyone who has ultimate control of the building.

Employing experienced professionals for comprehensive inspections is advisable, as their expertise can identify subtle issues that might elude the untrained eye.

6 Key Things to Look Out for in a Fire Door Inspection

A detailed fire door inspection goes beyond a cursory look. Key areas of focus include:

1. Door, Frame, and Wall Assessment:

  • No cracks or splits in the wood of a timber fire door.
  • No damage to any glazing in the door.
  • No warping of the door affecting its fit in the frame.
  • No holes or gaps from the removal of locks or hardware.
  • No alterations made to the door that might impact its fire resistance.

2. Fire-Resisting Glass and Glazing System:

  • No signs of damage to glass panels or any associated side or over panels.
  • No cracks, breaks, or other issues that might compromise the integrity of the glass and glazing system.

3. Hinges and Ironmongery:

  • Hinges checked for missing or loose screws.
  • No visible defects in the door's hardware.
  • Ventilation grilles and other components in proper working order.

4. Intumescent Strips and Smoke Seals:

  • Intumescent strips present and undamaged.
  • Smoke seals in place, undamaged, and making proper contact with the door's edge or frame.
  • Seals have not been painted over.

5. Gap Measurement:

  • Gap between the door and frame does not exceed 4mm (except at the bottom).
  • Bottom gap is as small as practical (3mm maximum for smoke fire doors).

6. Self-Closing Device:

  • Effective self-closing device in place for fire doors at flat entrances and within common areas.
  • Door closes fully into its frame when tested from any open angle.

Best Practices for Fire Door Maintenance

Routine inspections aside, proactive upkeep can prolong a fire door's operational life. Educating occupants about their importance, keeping them obstruction-free, and conducting regular training sessions will prove invaluable.

The Role of a Qualified Fire Door Inspector

While building owners and the appointed responsible person for a property are liable for implementing and maintaining fire safety precautions, the technical inspections and subsequent maintenance should be executed by competent fire door surveyors.


Regular inspections ensure that fire doors function optimally when it matters most. Ensuring their regular inspection and maintenance is not just a matter of regulatory compliance but a moral duty. Prioritise them, and you prioritise safety.