The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Building Security vs Fire Safety – Part 134

January 31, 2022 11:48 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 133, LWF looked at how building security and fire safety should work together to protect the premises and occupancy. In part 134, we continue to discuss the points of consideration for a combined approach to fire safety and building security, particularly in relation to fire doors.

As fire doors must be openable from the inside to allow safe and prompt evacuation from the premises by the occupants, fire door security can be a concern. Consideration may be given to the fitting of an alarm to the door opener, which would alert a central point when the door is opened (or in the area of the door where preferred). Where the situation warrants it, the door may also be covered by security cameras.

Fire doors can be fitted with electronic locks designed to release the locking mechanism upon activation of the fire alarm system. These systems are suitable for most premises, with a few exceptions, such as prisons.

BS 7273-4 Code of practice for the operation of fire protection measures – Actuation of release mechanisms for doors ( provides guidance on the use of electronic locks controlled by a fire alarm system. In essence, the requirements are as follows:

  • Fail safe locks that release the door when the power fails should be used
  • Locks that release upon activation of the fire alarm system should be used
  • A local electrical override control should be provided by each door. Once operated, it cannot be reset without the replacement of a frangible (breakable) element.

In some circumstances, a mechanical override for emergencies is also provided. Magnetically secured locks (maglocks) are preferred for this, rather than solenoid-operated devices which have moving parts, and sometimes springs. Solenoid-operated devices are prone to malfunction where there is poor insulation and similar issues may arise if the door is subject to force from people pressing against the door.

Interfacing the locks on a fire door with a fire alarm system via another system (such as an access control system) should be avoided. Access control systems and similar may not fail safe and are not designed to have the reliability of a life-safety system, such as a fire alarm system.

In part 135 of this series, LWF will continue to discuss fire doors and a combined approach for building security and fire safety. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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