AUST – Essential Property Services advises that various types of fire doors and smoke doors are installed in new buildings and buildings undergoing alterations and require fire door inspections in accordance with AS 1851-2005 and essential safety measures directions from statutory authorities. Due to the performance requirements contained within the Building Code of Australia  and resultant fire engineered solutions, various “name labels” are placed on doors outside of the meaning under AS 1905.1 -2005 ‘Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant walls – fire resistant door sets’.

The BCA nominates for all fire doors to be identical to prototypes that have been tested in accordance with Australian Standard AS 1530.4 ‘Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures – fire-resistance test of elements of construction’. A fire door is part of a fire rated door set which is installed in a fire rated wall (system).

The following door types are the most commonly referred to in the building approval process by building surveyors under Australia’s Building Legislation.

Type of Doors

Fire Doors

As mentioned above a fire door is contained within a fire door set and installed in a fire wall (internal wall) or an external wall where the wall and door opening requires to be fire rated. The fire rating level for a fire door is known as the fire resistance level (FRL). The required FRL of a door will be dependent on the BCA clause provision nominating its use for an opening in a wall required to have a fire rating.

Life Safety Doors (maybe Smoke Doors)

Life safety doors are fire doors with the required FRL but also have fitted smoke seals. These smoke seals are tested to AS 1530.7 ‘Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures – Smoke control assemblies – Ambient and medium temperature leakage test procedure’.

The BCA in Specifications C3.4 clause 3 sets out the criteria for doors to qualify as a smoke door, clause 3 states:

3. SMOKE DOORS 3.1 General requirements
Smoke doors must be constructed so that smoke will not pass from one side of the doorway to the other and, if they are glazed, there is minimal danger of a person being injured by accidentally walking into them. 3.2 Construction deemed-to-satisfy
A smoke door of one or two leaves satisfies Clause 3.1 if it is constructed as follows:
(a) The leaves are side-hung to swing—

(i) in the direction of egress; or
(ii) in both directions.


(i) The leaves are capable of resisting smoke at 200°C for 30 minutes.
(ii) Solid-core leaves at least 35 mm thick satisfy (i).

(c) The leaves are fitted with smoke seals.


(i) The leaves are normally in the closed position; or

(A) The leaves are closed automatically with the automatic closing operation initiated by smoke detectors, installed in accordance with the relevant provisions of AS 1670.1, located on each side of the doorway not more than 1.5 m horizontal distance from the doorway; and
(B) in the event of power failure to the door, the leaves fail-safe in the closed position.

(e) The leaves return to the fully closed position after each manual opening.

(f) Any glazing incorporated in the door complies with AS 1288.


(i) If a glazed panel is capable of being mistaken for an unobstructed exit, the presence of the glass must be identified by opaque construction.
(ii) An opaque mid-height band, mid-rail or crash bar satisfies (i).

Smoke Doors

Up until recently around Australia, statutory authorities, councils and building surveyors over many decades have nominated the use of smoke doors in certain situations to protect the occupiers within a building. Mostly adopted for alterations to existing buildings or when a “forced” upgrade of the life fire safety provisions in a building is required by a municipal council or the fire brigade. It must be understood that many of the doors installed over the years do not have a FRL.

The BCA now calls up the use of smoke doors in particular situations and in specification C3.4 sets out the deemed to comply provisions, when complied with, these doors are acceptable to install as smoke doors.

Solid Core Doors

Similar to the history of smoke doors above, solid core doors have been installed in all types of buildings, for all types of reasons (usually to reduce costs), with many buildings in Australia still relying on these doors for ongoing life safety protection. Municipal councils and fire brigades at times are forcing older buildings with these types of doors to be upgraded to ensure life safety protection by having active fire systems installed e.g. sprinkler systems.

The BCA in clause C3.11 Bounding Construction: Class 2, 3 and 4 buildings nominates the use of a 35mm thick solid core door which must be a tight fitting.

Some building approvals have fire engineered solutions for new buildings or alterations to existing buildings under the BCA and are nominating the use of solid core doors. To date, there is no Australian Standard that provides any validation for fire rating of solid core doors. The solid core doors are incorporated in the building design for the issue of a building approval by a performance based resolution/ fire engineered solution taking into account the use of the building, the type of construction and the active fire protection systems incorporated.

Building Legislation Table

For an overview of each State and Territories Building Control System relative to essential safety measures maintenance requirements refer to our Building Legislation Table, including the Annual Statement.

Fire Safety Compliance: Essential Safety Measures

Refer to our Essential Safety Measures Identification Table for further information on individual Essential Safety Measures including AS 1851 requirements for as built drawings.

Further Advice

For further advice, please contact your closest Essential Property Services office by clicking here.