Geofire Frequently Asked Questions

We hope these frequently asked questions will help with any queries you have.  If you can’t find the answer to your question, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts at Geofire on +44 (0) 1388 770 360.

Why do I need a door holder or a hold-open door closer?

There any many legitimate reasons to hold open fire doors such as providing disabled access (as required by the Equality Act 2010), improving ventilation or preventing damage to doors in busy areas. This should only be done with devices that will ensure the door automatically closes when a fire is detected. If there is a need to hold open a door then users of the building will often resort to propping it open. Internal fire doors prevent the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gasses through a building when there is a fire, but they can only do this when they are closed. Operators of buildings have a legal responsibility to ensure fire doors are not wedged open.

What is the difference between a door holder and a door closer?

A door holder is used with a door that already has a closing device. It holds the door open releasing the door to close when a fire alarm sounds. A hold-open door closer is a complete holder and closer in one door-mounted unit whereby the unit prevents the self-closing action during normal use. Hold-open door closers can usually be used in a free-swing mode, allowing the door to be open at any position, but actively closing in the event of a fire alarm.

How do I know which fire door holder or door closer I should use?

If the door in question already has a closer fitted then it is possible to fit a door holder to compliment this. The decision then rests on the environment around the door: if there is a convenient wall that the doors opens onto, the location permits a floor bracket to be fitted without causing a trip hazard, or a standoff may be fitted from a wall or the ceiling without causing an obstruction, then a holder may be fitted. If the door opens into free space and no obstructions may be created then a door closer should be fitted, even if it will replace an existing unit. For bedroom doors in care facilities a free-swing door closer is often preferred.

If I install fire door holders and closers will it ruin my walls?

Properly fitted door holder units will not damage walls as long as wall construction is taken into account. Door closers are mounted onto doors and their surrounds and as such do not affect walls. Hard wired units will require cabling to be run so there will either be a need to chase the walls for installation, or to run a surface conduit for installation of these.

Will your products help me meet my legal obligations?

A system for holding open fire doors is often necessary for compliance with the disability provision in the Equalities Act 2010. Internal fire doors must close in the event of a fire and ensuring that they are not wedged open is a legal responsibility under the Regulatory Reform Order. Geofire door retaining units used as prescribed will allow this requirement to be met.

Is holding a door open with a wedge, or anything else, illegal?

Wedging a fire door open in such a way that it will not be closed in the event of a fire is illegal. Automatic holding/closing systems that are controlled by the fire alarm system will close the doors in the event of a fire, and this is not illegal.

The residents of our care home like having the doors to their rooms open during the day, how do I guarantee they would shut if there was a fire?

Installation of a dedicated system that will legally hold the fire doors open under normal circumstances, but will close them when triggered by the fire alarm system, will allow this mode of operation. The acoustic products also feature the facility to be released at a given time of day or night with a separately programmable hold time, while the radio controlled products can be easily triggered into a timed release state by an external timer.

I work in a secondary school, I just don’t think any product would withstand the wear and tear caused by hundreds of teenagers.

All Geofire products are put through vigorous testing, including door slamming tests, to make sure that they stand up to rough treatment.

Can we buy products direct from Geofire?

Hardwired and acoustic products are available through our distributors and our radio controlled products are available through our network of approved installers.

Who do I contact for technical support?

Your fire alarm maintenance company will provide technical support for your hardwired devices as they are integral to that system. For the radio controlled devices technical support will be provided by your approved installer who will have designed and installed the system for you. For the acoustic products technical support will be provided by the distributor from whom the device was originally bought.

What does the term ‘power size’ mean? It is used in your product specifications.

Power size is a term applied an approved door closer, which should be suitable for the size and weight of the door. It is a metric which helps to specify the strength of the door closer and the door holder required to hold it open.

What does ‘free-swing’ and ‘fixed hold open’ mean?

Free-swing means that once a door closer unit is latched the door can be open or closed to any position while still shutting in the event of a fire. Fixed hold open means that the unit is set to a certain angle and the door is held rigidly open at this position, although it can be pulled free to close.

I have a unit set up in 'free-swing' mode, but it will not stay where I open it.

A unit which closes under its own weight is not aligned correctly at the hinges, or is installed on rising butt hinges. This is a problem with the installation of the door.

How do I know whether my door is left or right handed?

Stand on the push side of the door on which the closer will be installed and check which side of you the hinges are on. If they are on your left it is a left-handed door, and if they are on your right it is a right-handed door.

Left handed door        Right handed door
Left handed door                         Right handed door

A door using a chain keeper shuts when I brush past it.

Check to see if the chain of the keeper plate is close to being 90 degrees/perpendicular to the door holder unit. If not, refit the holder so that it is. The further out the angle is, the lower the effective holding force.

When should I use hardwired products?

Hardwired products are ideal for fitting at the time of any building work where installation costs are included, and cabling may be hidden, as part of the works. Maintenance and running costs are minimal. They may be retrofitted anywhere at any time, but the work required may be invasive and require redecoration, increasing the cost. Geofire hardwired products meet the requirements of the BS7273-4 code of practice and are suitable for category A or B actuation.

What are the hidden costs for installing a hardwired product?

Above the cost of purchasing the units, these require additional infrastructure costs (cabling, trunking, etc.) to fit. For retrofitting in existing buildings, there may also be additional costs involved in ‘making good’ after the installation has taken place in terms of redecoration.

When should I use radio products?

Radio products are ideal for installation in existing buildings as they do not require lots of cabling and the associated disruption. This makes them particularly suited for listed buildings. Radio also offers a wire free solution in noisy areas not suitable for acoustic actuation. Door units can easily be relocated or additional units fitted of additional units if the system should need to be expanded. These products are failsafe and meet the requirements of the BS7273-4 code of practice, suitable for category A or B actuation.

What are the hidden costs for installing a radio system?

A radio survey is required before these products are bought and fitted and this in itself negates hidden costs of retrospective changes and troubleshooting. The mains powered boosters require cabling through a fused spur into the mains wiring of the building, and the controller requires a feed from the fire panel for triggering the event of a fire alarm. However, the door holder and closers may be fitted without disruption.

Each door holder and closer runs on 2 ‘C’ cell batteries which will need to be replaced. We recommend including these units in the annual fire system inspection, although they will last for up to two years.

Can I install the radio controlled products myself?

No, this is not possible. There is the requirement to perform a radio survey in advance of the system being installed, and a need to work with the mains electricity supply and fire alarm control panel during the installation of these products. A network of approved installers is available to support you in the design, preparation, installation, and aftersales care of your radio controlled system.

Will the sound activated products be activated by any loud noise?

Once a sound activated product has been put through the learning process it resists response to other noises. The Agrippa range of products ‘listen and learn’ the sound of your building’s specific fire alarm so that the door will only release upon the sound of this noise.

Please note that if the listen and learn process is not fully programmed, then a loud noise over 65 decibels will activate the release mechanism.

When should I use sound activated products?

Sound activated products are ideal to be installed where needed on an ad hoc basis with minimal technical requirements.

In locations were the sound level from the local fire alarm sounder is distinct from background noise, Geofire’s Agrippa products will learn the sound of the fire alarm to avoid false releases. Not suitable for voice evacuation systems or domestic smoke detector alarms . These products meet the requirements of the BS7273-4 code of practice, suitable for category B actuation.

What are the hidden costs for installing a sound activated product?

Each door holder and closer is supplied with two ‘C’ cell batteries which will need to be replaced. We recommend including these units in the annual fire system inspection so it may be convenient that they are replaced with this regularity, although they will last for up to two years. We recommend Duracell Industrial or Panasonic batteries when they need replacing.

Additionally, seven screws are required for the fitting of the door holder as well as any wall preparations which will depend on the construction of the wall in question.

Do I have to use special batteries for the sound activated products, which are hard to get hold of and expensive?

No, both the radio and sound activated products use two standard off the shelf ‘C’ size batteries for operation. Each unit is supplied with two batteries when purchased.

Why is your sound activated product different to others in the market?

The Agrippa products features digital filtering and processing which lowers the effect background noise has on the response of the unit and reduces the instances of false releases. Other devices in the market may be susceptible to background noises such as vacuum cleaners.

Will my school class change bell set off a sound activated unit?

To ensure the quickest response of a sound activated unit in a fire state, it takes approximately 2-3 seconds of sound to release the door. As long as the class change bell duration is less than this it will not set off the unit releasing the door.

Delay Setting

You may set a delay to prevent the Agrippa door holder releasing the door with longer lesson change bells.

Select option A in the menu. This lets you program a delay.

So press the ENT button – 0 is displayed. Press the INC button until A is displayed then press ENT again – 0 is displayed.  This is the trigger delay in seconds.

Now you select a delay which stops the device triggering until the lesson change bell has finished. This delay needs to be at least as long as the sound of the bell. Press INC until the delay you want is displayed (0 to 9 seconds maximum) then press ENT to select it.

Can I install the sound activated products myself?

Yes, no technical skills are required to install the acoustic products. They are supplied with fitting templates, batteries and instructions. See our installation guide videos – Agrippa Door Holder and Agrippa Door Closer.

In addition, 7 screws are required for fitting the door holder plus wall plugs or preparations depending on the construction of the wall(s) in question. BS 7273-4 gives guidance for the application of door holding systems.

Can I try one of your sound activated products before purchasing to check that it is suitable?

Yes. Trials of the acoustic products are possible on a 30 day sale or return basis. The unit must be returned in received condition if the product is not suitable.

Do I need to buy anything else apart from a sound activated door holder or closer?

No, these are standalone units and may be added to a building at any time.

What is dual mode?

We understand that it is not always possible to install and go through the learning programming as it may disrupt the occupants, such as a hospital, school or care home. Our engineers have created the brand new dual mode Agrippa which can be installed without the learning process, so that they can be fully programmed to learn the sound of your fire alarm at a later date.

Can I teach the Agrippa device at a more convenient time?

Yes, our engineers recommend this option if you are unable to sound the fire alarm to programme the listen and learn mode. For example, schools and colleges are now able to install the devices and sound the fire alarm out of school hours which will allow the listen and learn function to be activated. Please always follow the instructions when installing any fire safety device.

Without the learning mode, will the device be set off by a vacuum cleaner or loud noise?

No, the device shouldn’t release the door with the sound of the vacuum cleaner as it has been pre-programmed to resist the sound of most loud noises. However, if there is a noise over 65 decibels then it will be set off. This is why we recommend programming the device to listen and learn ensuring that the holding device will only be activated on the sound of the specific fire alarm.

How long does it take to install the holder straight from the box?

Installing the Agrippa fire door holder takes around 5 minutes. If you decide to programme it to the listen and learn mode then it will take an additional 5 minutes.

Should I test it after I install?

We always recommend you test all fire door holding devices to ensure they work correctly after install.