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08-06-2007, 15:27   #1
carveone
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Danger of self-closing doors

I didn't see this brought up in any thread so I thought I'd ask here:

What is your opinion on self-closing doors. They seem to be in all newer apartments now and apparantly they're mandated by building regulations. I can't actually find the regulation that states this though other than a reference saying that "fire doors (ie: a door built for that specific purpose) must be self closing". That's it.

Problem is though, the doors are not only very very noisy but also highly dangerous. Maybe it's just the way they are implemented (which would be typical of this country) but the velocity on impact with the door frame is considerable. I believe that the door impact is easily high enough to sever the fingers of a child. My brief research indicates that in my local area, everyone who has a child has removed the springs, most other prop the doors open.

I believe Irish authorities are just slavishly reinventing the regulation wheel, so to speak. The "Let's not ask anyone else" problem - you just know that if Ireland ever went nuclear, they'd start by building a "three mile island" style reactor. Just because.

Oh, here's an extract from the journal of the NFPA (the fire safety authority in the US). They were talking specifically about health facilities, but much could be learned:

Quote:
....the Life Safety Code has never required self-closing doors, either for new or existing health-care occupancies, and no model building code has required them since the mid-1980s.

"The reason," Jaeger says, "is that we were injuring and killing more people with self-closing doors than with fires, especially in nursing homes."

Doors closing and knocking people over have caused broken hips and crushed hands. In an elderly, already frail population, such injuries can lead to complications and, in some cases, death. Self-closing doors can also prevent health-care staff from monitoring patients by sound and by sight....

"The self-closing door issue has been kicked around for 30 years or better," says Solomon. "They sound good on the surface, but the issues they introduce create more harm than good, in most people's views."
Conor.
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08-06-2007, 18:02   #2
prox
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Some door closers have arresters or easers that stop the door when it's almost shut and let it close slowly for the last few inches.

They're typically a bit more expensive than a regular closer. Couldn't be adding twenty quid per door to your half million euro apartment now, could we.
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08-06-2007, 18:05   #3
fintan
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Depending on the style of closer you can usually adjust how fast it closes pretty easily.
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09-06-2007, 00:23   #4
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I'd imagine the op is referring to the type with the little chain in the middle of the side of the door. How do you adjust these?
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09-06-2007, 00:32   #5
bushy...
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I doubt they'd have the arrester , the ones that go on the top of the door with the arm usually have 2 adjustments , the speed it closes most of the way and an adjuster for the last few inches
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09-06-2007, 02:32   #6
undecided
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very irritating I know just take the chain off and make sure you have a smoke alarm fitted!

....... or at some point feel the pain gaurenteed!!
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09-06-2007, 06:34   #7
Brooklyn74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carveone
I believe that the door impact is easily high enough to sever the fingers of a child.
Indeed, my younger brother did suffer a severe injury to a finger (fortunately it was "only" his entire fingernail and not the finger itself that he lost) from one of these doors swinging shut. My parents removed the autoclosing mechanism pretty damn quickly after that.

I'm too much of a scaredy cat to take the chain out myself, but I've been looking for one of these yokes everywhere, with no success. Does anyone know of a shop in Dublin that sells them? I've seen plenty of the big rubber ones, but I find them awfully unsightly.
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09-06-2007, 19:37   #8
Victor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carveone
What is your opinion on self-closing doors. They seem to be in all newer apartments now and apparantly they're mandated by building regulations. I can't actually find the regulation that states this though other than a reference saying that "fire doors (ie: a door built for that specific purpose) must be self closing". That's it.
The definition of a fire door includes self-closing, its fairly useless otherwise.


Quote:
Oh, here's an extract from the journal of the NFPA (the fire safety authority in the US). They were talking specifically about health facilities, but much could be learned:
Is this being taken out of context? There is a difference between a hospital or nursing home where there are always staff on duty and an apartment block where the vast majority may be asleep.

Also, sprinkler systems are much more common in the USA than they are here - up to the attacks on the World Trade Centre only two people had died of fire in fully sprinklered buildings.
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09-06-2007, 21:20   #9
podge018
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people trying to make their door safter by taking off the chain should be VERY careful whilst doing it, that chain packs a lot of power, you really need to be prepared for when you are taking the final screw out, prepare to move your hand fairly sharpish.
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11-06-2007, 10:10   #10
Borzoi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by podge018
people trying to make their door safter by taking off the chain should be VERY careful whilst doing it, that chain packs a lot of power, you really need to be prepared for when you are taking the final screw out, prepare to move your hand fairly sharpish.
If you need to take one of the chain mechanisms off, the knack is to open the door fully, slide a medium size nail though the chain link, then let the door close back a little. The chain will retract a little, slightly bending the nail so it wont come off. Then unscrew the plate on the door frame. Safer for your fingers if you need to do this
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11-06-2007, 11:39   #11
talkingclock
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i use a simple door stopper and don't let them close.

open-door-policy
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11-06-2007, 14:21   #12
carveone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklyn74
Indeed, my younger brother did suffer a severe injury
That's what I was worried about too. I doubt any statistics are being held on injuries although the A&E might have some idea. I was worried about waking up to a smoke alarm in a dark smoke filled house and, while searching for the front door key to get out, being clobbered by one of these doors. Someone else changed the front door deadlock so you don't need a key to get out. Far happier now

The door in my (well, my brother's) apartment are not fire doors, they're made of a wood frame, hardwood front+back and a centre of expanded polystyrene. My brother in law cut one in half at some point. I believe a fire door has to withstand for 30-60 minutes, not 30-60 seconds!

I lived in Canada for 4 years in highrise (26 story+) apartment blocks. Only the front doors were self-closing firedoors with the top style adjustable arrestor. The door was made of steel and was tough as hell. There was a fire in my apartment block at some point - one apartment badly damaged but confined. Smoke damage to next door. Smoke alarms are mandatory - power+battery with a central monitor in the caretakers office.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor
Is this being taken out of context? There is a difference between a hospital or nursing home where there are always staff on duty and an apartment block where the vast majority may be asleep
True to an extent, I was pushing to see what people would say . The nursing homes I've been in though, the staff are always catching people smoking in bed so maybe it's worse! I believe smoke alarms and monoxide monitors are the life savers - and with these modern apartments having paper thin intermediary walls, next door will hear it too. Most people close their bedroom doors at night anyway, especially in a rental house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by podge018
people trying to make their door safter by taking off the
chain should be VERY careful whilst doing it
I absolutely agree! Borzoi is bang on there - this is the method my brother used. A clamp or pliers will slip. Be very careful!
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11-06-2007, 14:45   #13
Victor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carveone
I lived in Canada for 4 years in highrise (26 story+) apartment blocks. Only the front doors were self-closing firedoors with the top style adjustable arrestor. The door was made of steel and was tough as hell. There was a fire in my apartment block at some point - one apartment badly damaged but confined. Smoke damage to next door. Smoke alarms are mandatory - power+battery with a central monitor in the caretakers office.
The idea is to create a safe space between bedrooms and stairs wells. Sometimes this can be the shared corridor, sometimes the corridor in the apartment.
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11-06-2007, 14:48   #14
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I have seen apartments with a vestibule, between the outside of the apartment (which is semi-open air) and the hall, where all the rooms open from. All the doors are sprung, except the bathroom door. Is there any point in this?
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11-06-2007, 16:09   #15
dalk
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This is anecdotal so i'm not sure of the truth of the statement, but i was advised by a builder not to remove the chain from self closing doors. Every door in the apartment i live in has them. He claimed that if there was a fire and the insurance company discovered that the self closing fire doors had been tampered with, that it could void your policy.

Sound plausible?
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