Acoustic, smoke & fire containment systems

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Changes and Opportunities - October 2005

Recent changes to Approved Documents present new opportunities for Architectural Ironmongers to provide complete, value-added solutions.

Over the past 18 months the architectural ironmongery industry has been looking at, and often debating, the implications of Doc M. During this time, another Approved Document, Doc E, has quietly crept up on us – “quietly” being the appropriate word, as Doc E covers “Resistance to the passage of sound”.

Requirement E1 of this Approved Document to the Building Regulations (England & Wales) applies to “dwelling-houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes”. Dwelling-houses and flats are self explanatory - but “rooms for residential purposes” covers a multitude of buildings that specifiers must be aware of, and that create many opportunities for AIs. Student accommodation, hotels and residential care homes, amongst others, are included, and acoustic considerations must be considered when specifying and supplying hardware for the doors. For the first time, from July 2003, Doc E states a specific acoustic rating required for door assemblies in these situations – a minimum 29dB Rw.

Requirement E4 covers “Acoustic Conditions in Schools” – “schools” being as defined by Section 4 of the Education Act 1996. (This means infants’, junior and senior schools, but not colleges or universities.) The normal way of satisfying this Requirement is by following the standards laid down in Building Bulletin 93. This detailed document also states a required acoustic performance for door assemblies – a minimum of 30dB Rw; 35dB Rw for music rooms.

Approved Document B requires many of the doors in such buildings to be fire and smoke rated. This creates an ideal selling opportunity for the AI, as the average acoustic rating of a typical solid core FD30 is only around 22/23dB Rw. To meet the requirements of Doc E, FD30 doors will need perimeter seals to be fitted to the stiles, head and bottoms. It is worth noting that traditional brush-style smoke seals will not contribute significantly to the acoustic performance of the door assembly. Compression or blade-type seals have been proven to offer a more effective acoustic solution.

Perimeter seals, such as the Lorient Batwing® range, can be fitted easily on site and will meet the smoke containment requirements of Doc B (a requirement often forgotten by the contractor when he supplies a fire only door), as well as giving part of the solution to meet the requirements of Doc E. These seals also have the advantage of offering little, if any, resistance to the opening and closing forces of door closers - a necessity when considering Doc M.

Acoustic seals around doors should never be considered in isolation: they are part of a total package which encompasses sound containment, fire and smoke safety, and accessibility.

The CE marking of hardware also creates a new market area that AIs should be considering. Most, if not all CE marked hinges, when used on a 60 minute fire rated door, require intumescent protection - so when creating schedules it is important to ensure you know if and how many 60 minute doors have been specified and which ones they are. The recent CE marking of locks also means that some locks for 30 minute fire doors, and all for 60 minute rated doors, will also require intumescent protection. This not only creates an extra over-sale, but shows professionalism and knowledge of the Regulations that govern our industry.

With so many Approved Documents to be taken into consideration, both specifiers and Architectural Ironmongers can easily get lost in the red tape. But remember that doors, along with the hardware and seals that make them work, are an important part of any building - and the Regulations are there to improve security and safety for the occupants, as well as enhancing their quality of life.