An interesting question I have been asked a number of times in recent days;
Customer: “can you give me a fire rated door and frame for my wall?”.
Me: “what kind of wall do you have?”
Customer: “a fire rated wall”.
End of story hey? Maybe not.
Now because fire doors and frames are so easy to understand, I don’t have to tell you that just because the wall has been fire tested doesn’t mean there is an approved fire rated door and frame assembly that can be installed into that wall system and certified, or do I?
It is very concerning to me that people do not seem to understand that there is a difference between having a wall tested and having a wall tested that can actually have a door and frame installed into it and still be certifiable.
A fire rated door and frame can only be installed into a wall where the installation is supported by a test in accordance with the requirements of AS1530.4. This test basically means the door and frame would have to be installed into the specific wall system, burnt and provided an approval based on the data resulting from the fire test.
I had a discussion with a company in the last few days that supplies a particular wall system. Not an uncommon wall system but it was designed for separation as the primary objective, not as a common wall between two occupied spaces requiring access through the fire wall.
The reason I had the discussion, a customer said what wall system they needed a door and frame for but unfortunately I could not find a tested and approved door and frame system that could be installed into the wall system.
In speaking to the wall manufacturer they advised that a test could be done if the fire door developer paid for the test and the fire door developer advised they would test if the wall manufacturer agreed to pay for the test, net result, there is no approved fire rated door and frame for the wall system.
Note to specifiers and those deciding what walls to use in construction, in your due diligence with regards to material selection, specifically when looking at fire walls, ensure you check what penetrations are required (either immediately or into the future) through the walls you want to build with and if there is a tested and certified method of protecting the penetration through the walls you select.
A simple question at the start before this wall was installed like “can I have a fire door in this wall” would have saved a lot of frustration now that the customer wants to create an opening in the wall and put a door and frame in but has to either undertake a test, try to convince the wall or door developer to undertake a test or replace the wall with a wall that does have an approved door and frame that can be installed into it, or come up with an engineered solution to resolve the issue.
If you are installing fire rated doors and frames, please make sure you are satisfied that the door and frame you purchase is approved for the type of wall you are installing (or intending to install) it into.
Your fire door and frame supplier/manufacturer should be able to provide this information to you. If they can’t provide this information to you I would strongly suggest finding a supplier that can.