News & Events

Internal vs. External Fire Doors: What's the Difference?

4th January 2024

Understanding Fire Doors: Internal vs External

There are two primary types of fire doors: internal and external. Internal fire doors aim to confine fires within a building, curbing their spread and creating a safer environment for occupants. Conversely, external fire doors function to provide a secure exit path from a building during a fire, facilitating safe evacuation. Both types of fire doors serve the primary purpose of impeding the spread of fire and smoke within a building, which is essential for ensuring the safety of occupants in any building, be it residential or commercial.

Discerning the distinction between internal and external fire doors is pivotal during the selection of the appropriate door for your requirements. Each type of door is designed to fulfil specific fire safety requirements and is subject to different regulations.

At the moment, internal fire doors must comply with BS 476, a British Standard that governs the fire resistance of building elements, including doors. In future, however, it's likely that internal fire doors will need to comply with EN 1634 testing regulations, a more stringent testing regime adopted from Europe. The adoption of EN 1634 marking (announced in December 2022) will mean that internal fire doors can be CE or UKCA marked. It's important that commercial fire officers are aware of this new testing regime for fire doors and understand whether existing fire doors will need to be upgraded.

External fire doors, on the other hand, must be CE marked and adhere to BS EN 1634, which sets the requirements for fire resistance and smoke control for door assemblies and openable windows.

You can find out more about fire door regulations on our site.

The Role of Fire Doors

Fire doors have a significant role in confining fires and inhibiting their spread. These doors act as a barrier against fire and smoke, allowing occupants to escape safely and firefighters to save the building. Fire doors are designed to withstand fire for a certain period, known as the “FD rating,” which ranges from 30 to 240 minutes. FD30 internal fire doors offer fire resistance for up to 30 minutes. This fire resistance is essential in providing occupants with enough time to evacuate the building and for firefighters to extinguish the fire before it causes significant damage.

Note that fire doors and fire exit doors are distinct entities. Unlike fire doors, a fire exit door is specifically designed for emergency exits and should not be substituted for internal fire doors. Fire exits are typically marked with green signs to ensure easy identification during an emergency.

The effectiveness of fire doors in preventing the spread of fire and smoke hinges on their correct installation and maintenance.

Internal Fire Rated Doors – BS 476

Internal fire doors are specifically designed to restrict the spread of fire within a building. These doors are constructed from fire-resistant materials and are subject to BS 476 regulations. Unlike external fire doors, internal fire-rated doors do not need to be CE marked at present. Common materials used for internal fire doors include solid core and wooden fire doors, which are designed to resist fire for a specified period (FD rating). It is possible to fit internal fire doors with glass if preferred.

These doors, also known as internal doors, have a significant part in preserving the safety of a building’s occupants during a fire. Internal fire doors provide an escape route and a barrier against the spread of fire and smoke by compartmentalising fire within a building. It is essential that these doors are properly installed and maintained to ensure their effectiveness in providing this vital protection.

External Fire Rated Door – CE Marked – BS EN 1634

External fire doors are designed to provide a safe exit from a building during a fire. They are subject to more stringent regulations than internal fire doors and must comply with BS EN 1634 requirements, including CE marking. An external fire door is typically constructed from timber or steel and is designed to resist fire and its spread. The lowest rating is the FD30 external fire door, which offers protection for up to 30 minutes.

In addition to their fire-resistant properties, external fire doors must also meet other compliance standards. These standards include assessments for:

● Air leakage

● Water tightness

● Thermal transmittance

● Acoustic performance

● Impact resistance (for doorsets with glazing)

Ensuring that your external fire doors are certified and comply with all relevant regulations is vital for their effectiveness in preventing the spread of fire and smoke and providing a safe exit route during a fire event.

Regulations and Compliance for Fire Doors

Fire doors are subject to various regulations and compliance requirements to ensure their effectiveness in preventing the spread of fire and smoke. These regulations differ depending on the type of building and the specific fire door being used. It is essential to be aware of these requirements when selecting and installing fire doors for your building.

It’s vital to comprehend the distinctions between domestic and commercial buildings concerning fire door regulations and building regulations. For example, fire doors in private homes are not required to be CE marked, whereas fire doors in commercial buildings must be CE marked to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

Commercial Buildings

It is important to note that the responsible person, as defined by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, must ensure that all non-domestic properties are equipped with suitable fire doors.

Installation and Maintenance

The effectiveness of fire doors in preventing the spread of fire and smoke hinges on their correct installation and maintenance. Although it is not legally mandated, it is highly recommended to have fire doors installed and maintained by a trusted and experienced professional. Proper installation ensures that the fire door is securely fitted and that all hardware, such as hinges and door closers, is in good working order.

Regular maintenance of external doors, especially fire doors, is also crucial. This includes inspecting the doors for any signs of wear, damage, or obstructions that may hinder their performance. In addition, fire escape doors, like many external fire doors, should have a functioning push bar or panic bar to ensure easy egress during an emergency.

Correct maintenance of your fire doors guarantees their effectiveness in shielding your building and its occupants during a fire.

Choosing the Right Fire Door for Your Needs

Choosing the suitable fire door for your property necessitates evaluating the risk and needs of your specific building. This may include factors such as the building’s type, occupancy, and fire safety regulations. It is essential to conduct a thorough risk assessment and understand your property’s specific requirements when choosing a fire door.

An informed decision on the best-suited fire door for your needs can be made by evaluating the available fire door types and considering factors like:

● The door’s fire rating

● Construction type

● Dimensions

● Materials

Ensuring that your chosen fire door meets the appropriate regulations and is properly installed and maintained will help protect your property and its occupants in the event of a fire.

Assessing Risk and Requirements

Undertaking a thorough risk assessment is a significant step toward determining the most appropriate fire door for your requirements. The risk assessment evaluates the fire door’s ability to resist fire and prevent its spread and is typically part of a more extensive fire risk assessment for a building or premises. This assessment should include:

● Inspecting fire doors for any major issues

● Determining if they require replacement or improvement

● Confirming they are constructed from materials designed to resist fire

Understanding your property’s specific requirements is also crucial when selecting a fire door. Factors such as the building’s type, occupancy, and location all play a role in determining the appropriate fire door for your needs. By conducting a thorough risk assessment and understanding your property’s specific requirements, you can choose a fire door that provides the necessary protection and complies with relevant regulations.

Common Misconceptions About Fire Doors

A few prevalent misconceptions about fire doors can cause confusion and pose potential safety risks. One such misconception is the belief that fire doors and fire exit doors are the same things. As previously mentioned, fire doors are designed to impede the spread of fire and smoke within a building, while fire exit doors are specifically intended for emergency exits. It is important to understand the difference between these two types of doors and ensure that they are used correctly in your building.

A further misunderstanding is that fire doors do not necessarily require certification. Ensuring that your fire doors are certified and compliant with relevant regulations is crucial for their effectiveness in preventing the spread of fire and smoke. Certification guarantees that the fire doors meet the necessary safety standards and regulations, providing peace of mind and protection for your property and its occupants.

The Importance of Certification

Certification constitutes a fundamental aspect of fire door safety. It guarantees that the door abides by the necessary safety standards and regulations, ensuring its effectiveness in preventing the spread of fire and smoke. Fire doors must comply with applicable regulations, including BS 476 for internal fire rated doors and BS EN 1634 for external fire rated doors.

Choosing a certified fire door ensures that you are investing in a product that will protect your building and its occupants. It is important to verify that your fire doors are certified and comply with all relevant regulations to guarantee their effectiveness in providing fire safety and protection.

Choosing certified actual fire doors instil confidence in the performance of these indispensable safety features.


In conclusion, fire doors play a crucial role in protecting buildings and their occupants from the dangers of fire and smoke. Understanding the differences between internal and external fire doors, the regulations that govern their use, and the importance of certification is essential in ensuring the safety of your property. By selecting the right fire door for your needs and ensuring proper installation and maintenance, you can provide a safer environment for all who live or work within your building. Remember, when it comes to fire safety, every door matters.

SDUK supply internal and external fire doors in a variety of styles and with different fire ratings. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements. You can rest assured our doors comply with all relevant legislation to ensure your fire protection is second to none.

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