Do You Need A Sliding Fire Door?

Sliding Fire Door Options

Fire safety in commercial and public buildings is heavily controlled in Australia. Strict regulations must be met when installing fire safety elements including fire rated doors. One of the most common types of fire rated doors is the sliding fire door.

Thanks to their space-saving design, sliding fire rated doors are used in a wide range of applications from schools and hospitals to factories, warehouses and shopping centres. Below we take a closer look at:

  • What are sliding fire doors?
  • Where are they used?
  • What are the different types of sliding fire doors?
  • What are the Australian regulations for fire doors?
  • Where can you find high quality fire doors?

What are sliding fire rated doors?

Sliding fire doors are a type of fire rated door that can help protect a building and its occupants in the case of a fire. Like other types of fire rated doors, sliding fire doors are considered part of a building’s passive fire control. They play an important role in compartmentalising a building to slow down the spread of fire and smoke and provide safe passageways for occupants to evacuate.

As the name suggests, sliding fire doors operate by sliding on a track rather than swinging open as is the case with hinged fire doors. A sliding fire door set consists of the door itself as well as its track, counterweights and any other associated hardware. The door facing is typically made from sheet steel but plywood treated with a chemical fire retardant is also common.

Sliding fire door applications – Who needs sliding fire doors?

The main advantage of sliding fire rated doors is that they take up minimal space. This is ideal for applications in hospitals, schools, public buildings etc. where space is an issue. Some commercial spaces may actually be required to have a certified fire rated sliding door.

Fire rated sliding doors are frequently used in applications such as:

  • Factories & Warehouses – Sliding doors are great for large openings in factories, warehouses and other industrial buildings because they make it easier to move large equipment and stock.
  • Car parks – In car parks sliding doors make entry and exit easy while saving space in the design of the car park.
  • Shopping centres – High traffic buildings like shopping centres can benefit from the space saving advantages of fire rated sliding doors.
  • Hospitals – Most hospitals utilise sliding fire doors as it makes patient and equipment transfer much more efficient.
  • Schools – Sliding fire doors may be the ideal solution for primary and secondary schools as well as universities, TAFEs and other education institutes.
  • Public buildings – Sliding doors are appropriate for many kinds of public buildings where strict fire protection regulations must be met.

Types of sliding fire doors for commercial applications

Single leaf sliding doors

Single leaf sliding doors are the simplest type of fire sliding door, consisting of only one single door panel. They are a good choice for areas where there is limited entry space or tight passageways.

Bi-parting sliding doors

The bi-parting sliding door closes from both sides, meeting in the middle. This reduces the time it takes for the door to close which can be advantageous for large openings. This type of sliding fire door can be manufactured to stay open with a magnetic device. When activated by smoke detection or an alarm system the door will automatically close.

Multiple leaf sliding doors

Multiple leaf sliding doors are a good choice when you have a large space to cover. The multiple leaf design allows you to create the ideal solution for your project. Fire door manufacturers may even suggest a combination of fire door styles, depending on the specifications of your site.

Australian regulations for sliding fire doors

In Australia there are strict regulations around the use of fire safety systems in commercial and public buildings. The specific type of building may affect the National Construction Code (NCC) regulations that apply to you.

Sliding fire doors are emergency doorsets that are not intended for everyday use. All sliding fire doorsets should be tested according to AS1530.4 in the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and installed in accordance with AS1905.1. 

Sliding fire doors should only be operated during a fire event or during installation, maintenance and testing. If the door is operated outside of these circumstances its performance warranty may be rendered void.

Ongoing maintenance of fire rated sliding doors should be carried out according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This is to ensure the door continues to operate appropriately and remains compliant with regulations.

What is an FRL for fire doorsets?

Fire rated systems used in commercial buildings are required to meet certain Fire Resistance Levels (FRL) according to the Building Code of Australia. The FRL of a fire rated product – including sliding fire doors – indicates its ability to withstand fire under test conditions.

An FRL is assigned according to three criteria:

  1. Structural adequacy – how long a structural element can maintain an adequate load bearing capacity. Since doors are not considered structural building elements they are given a 0 for this category.
  • Integrity – how long the door can resist flames and hot gases. A rating of 60 means the door can resist the passage of flames and hot gases for 60 minutes as specified in AS 1530.4.
  • Insulation – how long the door can maintain a temperature below a critical temperature specified in AS 1530.4. Again, a rating of 60 here means the door is expected to maintain a lower temperature across the whole of the exposed surface for 60 minutes.

Fire rated sliding doors are available with a range of FRLs, often ranging from 2 to 4 hours for both integrity and insulation.

Where to buy sliding fire doors?

Fire doors should be manufactured, tested and installed by an accredited company and all relevant standards must be met. Australian Fire Control is one of Australia’s largest fire protection providers, offering high quality sliding fire doors and other passive fire control systems.