There can be confusion in the marketing of door hardware when it comes to products that are “fire rated”. When you scan through a suppliers catalog you will often find the notation that the hardware is “fire rated”.
This is unfortunately, in my opinion, is misleading; I suspect not through the supplier intentionally trying to mislead the buyer but more so from ignorance in terms of what can or cannot be claimed to be “fire rated”.
In simple terms, every piece of hardware fitted to a fire door is required to be tested in accordance with the relevant provisions of AS1905.1 (Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant walls Part 1: Fire-resistant doorsets) and AS1530.4 (Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures Part 4: Fire-resistance tests for elements of construction).
Now for the uninitiated, there are a number of different fire resistant cores in the Australian market (the core being the internal part of the door that gives it its fire resisting ability). The three (3) main core types currently available and in use in the Australian Market are Firecore®, E-Core® and Pyropanel®.
It can be difficult for an end user to work out which core the door is made out of without asking the supplier the question so don’t be afraid to ask. Your supplier may purchase and on sell a single type of fire door or they may purchase and on sell various different types of fire doors due to commercial arrangements or product availability. If you deal with a door manufacturer as opposed to a reseller you are probably more likely to only be supplied the one type of door.
That’s fine if it’s a new door and you can ask the supplier or the door manufacturer the question but if you are looking to replace hardware on a door that’s already there then the only place to get this information from is the compliance tag on the hinge edge of the door leaf, that’s right, that little metal tag on the edge of the door does have a reason for being there, it’s a little name plate that says, among other things, this is what I am (the Sponsor), this is who made me (the Manufacturer) and this is what I can do (The Fire Rating). The type of core should be identified by the name of the core manufacturer so look out for names like Firecore, E-Core and Pyropanel. There have been other door cores supplied in Australia so these are not the only names you may see but these three should cover most installations post the Asbestos era (mid 80’s on wards).
Each type of core is unique in its composition and each is tested with hardware fitted. The trick for young players is that because a lock was tested for example on a Firecore door does not mean that the door hardware is suitable for an E-Core door or a Pyropanel door. There are no assumptions in the Australian Standards, it is clear in the standard that hardware has to be tested on each type of door before it can be used on that particular type of door. Example, if a lock was tested only on a Firecore door it could not be legally used on an E-Core or Pyropanel door and likewise if a door closer was tested on a Firecore door and an E-Core door it could not be legally used on a Pyropanel door.
Each core manufacturer should be able to provide you a list of Approved Door Hardware which should detail the type of hardware, the manufacturer of the hardware, the model number of the hardware and a test approval number that details the make and model of the hardware.
I have come across sales consultants working for hardware suppliers that claim that a lockset is fire rated just because there is a little flame in their product brochure. When I have queried them and requested the fire test certificates, I have found that the hardware is sometimes only tested on 1 of the available types of fire doors available in the market.
Be very careful that you only used hardware that has been tested and approved for the specific fire resistant door you are intending to fit it to. If you do not take this precaution you may be inadvertently reducing or negating all together, the ability of the fire resistant door to do what it was designed to do. This action could potentially lead to the premature failure of a fire resistant door which in effect may lead to damage to property or worse still the loss of life.