Hold-open systems make fire protection doors accessible
Closing smoke and fire protection doors can be rather irritating for people who need to pass through them repeatedly. But if they are equipped with a hold-open system, they can remain open because hold-open systems guarantee safe closing of doors in the event of a fire. Because these are complex installations, regular maintenance is mandatory.
Fire and smoke protection doors: necessary, but often inconvenient
Fires can break out quickly, often without anyone noticing. Sealing is always the most effective measure to prevent the spread of deadly smoke gases. This means that fire resistant walls in buildings should prevent the spread of fire and smoke for as long as possible. However, they can do this only if the fire protection closers (fire protection doors) in fire protection walls, i.e. doors and gates, are closed in the event of fire. Fire protection doors must feature door closers so that they shut independently.
But doors are often difficult to open. Often opening a door is in itself felt to be difficult and impractical. Children and people with physical limitations may require external help. For these people, a door is a barrier. Keeping doors open for longer periods, or permanently, is often therefore often desirable in normal situations. However holding a door open mechanically using a wedge or hook is grossly negligent from a fire protection point of view because the door closer is then unable to close the door in the event of a fire.
FA GC 170 - example of a hold-open system © GEZE GmbH
Hold-open systems instead of wedges
Approved electric hold-open systems are more beneficial and suitable than wedges in terms of fire protection technology. They disable the self-closing function of a fire protection door in a controlled way. This means that they keep fire protection doors open, but automatically release them in the event of a fire so that door closers can do their job.
Hold-open systems are complicated technical systems. They consist of at least one fire detector, one power supply, one hold-open device and one trigger mechanism. Hold-open devices are often electro-magnetic systems such as hold-open magnets, magnet valves and magnet couplings. Hold-open magnets require magnetic counter plates to be mounted on the wall. The other systems are already integrated into the door closer or the guide rail.
All types of hold-open device have one thing in common: they are activated by the fire detector in the event of an alarm, or the trigger mechanism in the event of a power failure. They release the door, and it is then brought to a close by the door closer. If the door is a double-leaf door, an integrated closing sequence control feature makes sure the leaves close correctly. This means that the protective aim of the fire protection door has been achieved: it prevents the spread of fire and fire smoke.
The door can be released manually at all times
If an open door needs to be closed, intervention is possible at any time and the hold-open function can be triggered manually. This is because the type authorisation from the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt) prescribes a manually-operated trigger option. A manual trigger switch, which switches off the holding current, can perform this function. This must be red and display the inscription “close door" . They must also be located nearby, and must not be covered by doors which block access. If the hold-open device can be triggered by slightly pushing on the door leaf, no manual trigger switch is needed.
Furthermore, swing door drives and free swing door closers which permit almost resistance-free passage through fire protection doors must be taken into account as a part (hold-open device) of a hold-open system and may already be included as components of the hold-open system, such as for example a power supply, trigger mechanism and fire detector.
Hold-open systems for fire protection doors
Fire and smoke protection doors should prevent fire or smoke in buildings from spreading. They must be self-closing, in line with the "Guideline for the Authorisation of Fire Protection Closers" of the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt) in Berlin. If they need to be kept open, an officially approved hold-open system must be used for this purpose.
A hold-open system consists of a minimum of
- a fire alarm
- a trigger mechanism (receives signals from fire detectors and releases the connected hold-open device.)
- a hold-open device (for example hold-open magnet with a magnetic counter plate mounted on the wall, or an integrated electrical function in the door closer.)
- A power supply
- a manual trigger switch for manual closing (this can be omitted if the hold-open function can be overridden by low pressure on the door leaf.)
- Safety devices, if applicable
Hold-open systems can also be controlled by other fire detectors or fire detector groups such as fire detector systems.
Type authorisation of hold-open systems
A hold-open system requires a general type authorisation (aBG) as proof of usability in Germany. For this, it must be subject to a suitability inspection in accordance with the requirements of the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt). This type of authorisation is usually valid for five years and can be extended on request.
If the general type authorisation for a hold-open system expires, the installation is no longer approved for installation in the building. Existing installations may continue to be used, however, if they meet the original demands, and are regularly inspected and maintained. Building operators should therefore keep the acceptance protocol from the company which installed the installation, and the proof of usability.
Generally, only complete hold-open systems with all the corresponding parts are inspected and approved. Exchanging an individual component for a device which is no longer listed in the type authorisation results in the whole hold-open system losing its operating permission. A new acceptance process is needed after valid authorisation has been obtained.
An integrated hold-open system must be checked for proper functioning and correct installation (general type certification and manufacturer documentation). Following the acceptance inspection, an acceptance plate must be affixed which identifies the date of acceptance. This acceptance inspection must be organised by the building operator, and can only be performed by the manufacturer of the hold-open system, or by a person certified by the manufacturer (an expert).
The building operator must retain all documentation in relation to the correct installation and successful acceptance. This must be produced on request (for example fire inspections made by the municipal authorities, fire service).
Maintenance requirements are set out in the DIN 14677 series of standards – Maintenance of electrically controlled hold-open systems for fire and smoke door assemblies as well as for electrically controlled hold-open systems for fire barriers in the course of ground-bound conveying systems. This consists of Part 1: Maintenance measures and Part 2: Requirements to the professionals.
In Germany general construction technique permits for hold-open systems refer to parts of DIN 14677-1. The building operator must keep the hold-open system operational at all times, and check that it is functioning properly at least once every month.
The operator is also obliged to organise annual inspection of the proper and failure-free interaction of devices, and general maintenance. The operator is obliged to employ a qualified maintenance expert, or to commission a specialist company which is able to realise the maintenance of the hold-open system. The scope, result and date of the inspection and maintenance must be recorded and archived. European standard EN 14637 – Building hardware - Electrically controlled hold-open systems for fire/smoke door assemblies - Requirements, test methods, application and maintenance contains among others general recommendations for maintenance and refers to the need for compliance with respective national and local regulations.
Fire protection doors must be officially approved as "fire protection closers" by the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt). Installations added to a hold-open system at a later date are considered as changes to a fire protection door. Operators therefore need to demonstrate that the intended changes correspond to permissible changes and extensions for fire protection closers, or that a conversion is in line with the instructions of the fire protection door manufacturer.
Fire protection doors play an important role in preventive fire protection
They form safe fire sections and prevent the spread of fire to adjoining parts of the building. You can get the most important information about fire protection doors/gates, door closers, drives and hold-open systems here. This includes points to note during maintenance, relevant standards, typical errors and much more. Comments from lawyers and fire protection experts emphasise the topic's importance.
GEZE hold-open systems - compact and safe
Fire protection doors with door drives must always be coupled with a hold-open system. © N. Grünwald / GEZE GmbH
GEZE has a wide range of hold-open system available, designed specifically for use in fire prevention systems. They are all inspected and certified in accordance with the relevant standards, and are subject to a general type authorisation from the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt).
Compact hold-open systems by GEZE consist of one overhead door closer and one guide rail system. Power supplies, smoke switch control units and electromechanical hold-open systems are integrated into the guide rails - there are therefore no bulky parts on the door or on the walls. For the system variants for double-leaf fire protection doors, the electrical function for both door leaves and the mechanical closing sequence control are integrated in a continuous guide rail.
An award-winning special feature is the FA GC 170 radio extension, which eliminates the need for time-consuming wiring of the individual components of the hold-open system. This advantage is particularly useful when retrofitting existing buildings, in particular listed buildings.
Simple installation and commissioning via ECwire technology
Versions of GEZE hold-open systems are available with double wire ECwire technology for simple cabling, for example additional smoke detectors. This system permits convenient installation, networking and commissioning of additional ceiling-mounted detectors.
GEZE hold-open devices
The following are also included in the GEZE range: a number of hold-open devices for overhead and integrated door closers, floor-mounted door closers and for automatic swing door drives. These can be individually integrated into the building concept according to a client's wishes. A hold-open device is part of a hold-open system, which it forms together with a smoke switch control unit (including a trigger mechanism, a fire detector and a power supply).
Numerous standards and guidelines
GEZE can provide comprehensive consultancy support on the basis of its specialist knowledge and many years of experience in fire protection planning.
GEZE installers are trained to meet all standards and guidelines, and so that the installed hold-open system meets demands.
Acceptance and maintenance: performed only by experts
Be aware of typical errors when installing hold-open systems
- the selected hold-open system does not fit into the opening angle (the door closer is in contact with the door)
- door is too wide
- cable routing is incorrect/missing
- no discharge of smoke is possible
- contamination of the equipment during the construction phase
- protective cap has not been removed
- work after commissioning without protection, smoke detector contamination
- air inlets have been sealed after the initial acceptance due to works, and protective covers have not been removed after the end of works
- the distance from the lintel-mounted detector to the ceiling is too low (a minimum of 20 mm above the smoke switch is needed)
Acceptance and maintenance of hold-open systems may be performed only by an expert or an authorised representative of the manufacturer. The expertise of these workers must be proven.
Inspection and maintenance can also be performed by GEZE service technicians
Hold-open systems need to be checked monthly, and be inspected and maintained once a year. The monthly inspection is necessary to determine whether the door closes properly.
To safely operate hold-open systems, the following needs to be ensured:
- correct installation in accordance with the requirements of the type authorisation, or the manufacturer specifications
- maintenance requirements have been met
- component exchange time limits have been followed
- maintenance documentation is satisfactory
- minimum qualification level for maintenance staff has been met
Service technicians from GEZE Service GmbH are of course available for inspection and maintenance.