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Difference between a smoke door & a fire door

Updated February 21, 2017

Smoke doors and fire doors create a seal that provides protection from the deadly effects of smoke and flames during a fire. Smoke doors block smoke and other combustible products, while fire doors stop flames by compartmentalising. Many public buildings and apartment complexes have fire or smoke doors for protection in an emergency. A local fire professional can advise you if you think you need one in your home. Both fire and smoke doors will fit almost any doorway shape or size.

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The resistant properties of a fire door, which is usually encased within a firewall, stop the spread of flames through the doorway. Every fire door is required to double as a smoke door, however not every smoke door doubles as a fire door. Smoke doors stop the passage of smoke from one side of the door to the other. Smoke doors alone do not stop the spread of flames, but they do prevent emergency routes from becoming filled with smoke.


Fire doors and smoke doors are easily identified, as they are required to be clearly marked with signage. Signs will let you know the purpose of the door and how it will protect you during an emergency. You can also identify the door based on the material used to make it. Smoke doors are generally made from wood, steel or aluminium. Many have glass that meets specific standards. Fire doors are made from steel, and although they can contain specially manufactured glass, they are generally solid.


Fire doors are designed to protect you from flames, compartmentalising fire for between 30 and 120 minutes. Special fire-resistant seals sit between the door and the door frame, eliminating gaps that would allow the passage of flames. Although some have automatic closing devices, most fire doors remain closed so they work properly in an emergency. Most fire doors also protect from the harmful effects of smoke.

Smoke doors contain special smoke seals that block smoke in the event of a fire, however they are not designed to protect from flames. Smoke doors operate just like a normal door, although many have special closing mechanisms that are activated by smoke detectors.


Damage to a fire door or smoke door, no matter how minor, should be addressed immediately to ensure that the door works properly in an emergency. These doors are only designed to last a specific length of time. Certification plates, located on the edge of the door, will specify the manufacturing date and serial number. If you have questions about the function of your door, or if you want to know if the door protects against both fire and smoke, contact the manufacturer or your local fire professional.

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