Rutland Podinar – Episode 1:

Are notional (nominal) fire doors effective?


14th December 2021


Virtual event

Hosted by:

Neil Smith

Technical & Compliance Associate Director, Rutland

For over 20 years, Neil has worked in roles related to property management,
including high-risk buildings. Familiar with the Secured By Design scheme since
2006, he has assisted, and often overseen, over 100 door tests, including fire,
smoke, security, weather, thermal and performance strength testing. Neil is
well-placed to chair the webinar discussion panel, with his extensive industry knowledge.


Danny White

Fire Door Compliance Consultants


Neil Ashdown

Fire Doors Complete


Rhonda Hughes

Researcher & Historian


Podinar Overview

Following our most recent Rutland webinar on ‘Optimising Smoke Control’, attendees were invited to submit their ‘burning questions’ about what they see day-to-day working within the fire door industry. One answer that kept coming back from various people within the sector concerned the effectiveness of notional fire doors, also known as nominal fire doors.

In this podinar, Rutland’s Compliance and Technical Director Neil Smith explored the effectiveness of notional fire doors with fellow industry experts Danny White and Neil Ashdown. Are they effective or a danger to life safety? After the discussion, a live ‘Q&A chat’ took place, allowing participants to submit their questions to the panel. We received a great deal of questions, some of which the panellists were able to answer within the available timeframe, and the others are answered below.

Watch the video


Additional Q&As

Q: "The gap to the floor threshold 8-10 ? or 3mm if smoke controlled door but this is apparently every fire door is it not, issues are the floor levels of course, so a drop seal is needed more often than not."
A: I always say it is not the fault of a fire door inspector / installer if the floor is out. That is a building issue. Drop down seals are a way of trying to alleviate, Issues occur in new build when they leave a large gaps as the carpets / flooring are installed after the fire door installation.

Q: "Can you repeat what the fundemental differance between Nominal & Notional doors."
A: Notional fire doors is a presumption that the door met the required standards at the time of build.

Q: "Question for Neil please. Is it fair to say that no FDI will make an assumption on a fire doors performance and state it as a nominal fire door without some form of identification?"
A: As a fire door inspector, I would make no assumptions and report only on the findings of the inspection. If the door cannot be identified to a manufacturer or some form of evidence of performance then the inspector must make sure that the door assembly has all the attributes of a fire door before declaring the door as a 'Nominal Fire Door'.  This applies to timber doors only.

Q: "On a type 4 assessment is there a % of the fire doorsets to be inspected on a floor of a building, e.g. 10 flats 10% so only 1 front fire doorset to be inspected? Where do you find?"
A: For a 'Type 4 Assessment' a competent fire risk assessor should be engaged.  It's quite possible that the fire risk assessor would then appoint a specialist fire door inspector to deal with fire door inspections but the fire risk assessor would have control over the percentage of doors to be inspected.  For your information, my recommendation to my clients, for existing buildings that have sleeping accommodation, is to carry out an intrusive inspection for 10% and a non-intrusive inspection for 90% of the doors to be inspected. In my experience any defects revealed by the intrusive inspection work also apply to the remaining fire doors.

Q: "If inspecting fire doors and all appear to be the same but only a percentage have certificate labels intact, can we assume they were all certificated at time of installation?"
A: Get hold of the O&M Manual. Some doors get installed upside down, so just because the label is not visible, does not mean that it is not a certified doorset.

Additional Information

Nominal Fire Door?Notional Fire Door?Main Differences

A timber-based fire door that, in the opinion of the fire door inspector, can provide fire resistance performance for a specified period of time

A timber-based fire door that satisfied the standard applicable to fire resisting doors at the time the building was constructed

A nominal might never have been tested or certificated.

A notional is likely to have been tested to the standard (where any existed) that applied at the time and therefore satisfied the regulations at the time the building was constructed

62.17  It will not be practicable to test existing doors to confirm their actual fire resistance Therefore, three options exist in relation to original fire-resisting doors that do not let current benchmark standards. These are:
• Accept the door as it is, provided it is a good fit in its frame and that it satisfied the standard applicable to fire-resisting doors at the time of construction of the building or manufacture of the door (“notional FD30’ door)
• Upgrade the door by, for example, fitting intumescent strips and smoke seals along the edges, and fitting a protected letter box (‘upgraded FD30S’ door)
• Replace the door with an FD30S door (‘replacement FD30S door’)
62.18  An upgraded FD30S door cannot be guaranteed to achieve the same performance as a replacement FD30S door, for which there will be a fire test certificate. This is to be expected and is reasonable provided that the door has sufficient thickness of timber  (eg 44 millimetres). Simply fitting intumescent strips and smoke seals to a thin door or one with panels will not render it suitably fire-resisting. Specialist advice may need to be sought in order to make an assessment of the likely benefits of upgrading existing fire-resisting doors. Guidance on upgrading fire-resisting doors is also published by the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA). 
62.19  It is essential that, irrespective of which option is chosen, fire-resisting flat entrance doors, and doors provided to protect common corridors, lobbies and stairways, should be fitted with suitable positive action self-closing devices. The self-closing device should be capable of closing the door in its frame from any angle and overcoming the resistance of any latch. Rising butt hinges used to be acceptable under previous benchmark guidance, but are no longer considered suitable devices because they are unreliable in the effective closure of a door. 

Useful resources

Neil Ashdown has created a very comprehensive write-up, which contains useful links to documentation on nominal fire doors, notional fire doors and upgrading fire doors.

Read his blog post here:

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