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Fire escape door for tall items

01 June 2018

When a warehouse and office building in Maidenhead was being refitted for a new occupant, a fire door problem arose. While the door’s main role was as a fire escape, sara LBS proposed fitting a removable overhead panel to meet the occasional need for tall plant and equipment to be brought in and out of the building.

Contractor, Zelltec Construction Services, was converting the building from a publisher’s headquarters to suit the needs of pharmaceutical company Noumed.

Having considered a standard roller shutter door, Zelltec quickly identified that this would not provide a suitable opening speed when acting as a fire door. Thinking moved on to a three-leaf sliding door, but again the opening speeds would not have been ideal to facilitate a rapid evacuation.

Rather than accept a less than perfect solution, Zelltec spoke to Sara LBS.

Nick Cox, area sales manager for sara LBS, recalls: “The door opening was quite large, suggesting a bespoke solution may be needed, but there were some constraining issues to bear in mind. Talking to Noumed, we realised the door was to have two distinct duties and, by considering them separately, identified two sets of needs. We did a bit of head scratching and came up with a solution that met both requirements.”

During the refurbishment phase, and periodically thereafter, the door would need to be able to allow the passage of specialist plant, production and test equipment. These items would often be tall; thus, a high head height would be required.

The door was also designated as a fire escape, for which a standard head height was acceptable. However, the door had to be fast to open and easy to operate intuitively.

“Fire doors are normally hinged and swing outwards, so we took this as the basis of the design,” explains Nick. “We needed a twin-leaf design that would span a total distance of 3,000mm. Fortunately sara LBS has the manufacturing capabilities to make such wide doors. Considering the height of the doors, we went for 2,700mm – again within the scope of the sara LBS machines and ideal for the Noumed requirements.

“However, because it was impossible to predict how tall the largest piece of plant ever to pass through the door would be, we decided to add a demountable panel above the door that could be removed on the rare occasions that maximum head room was required.”

The doors were fitted with fire escape panic bars on the inside face, for ease of use should emergency evacuation of the building be required. There was no need to fit handles on external face of the doors, which have a lightweight core clad in steel finished in silver polyester powder coating to match the high-tech appearance of the rest of the building.