Fire Rated Access Panels

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Fire rated access panels are a critical component in fire safety management within commercial and residential buildings. These crucial fixtures maintain the integrity of a fire-resistant wall or ceiling while providing access to otherwise concealed services. Fire rated access panels are not just about access to hidden utilities; they play a pivotal role in passive fire protection within a building, helping to contain and prevent the spread of fire. Understanding their function and proper use is crucial in maintaining a safe environment. When selecting these panels, ensure they meet the fire rating requirement for your building and adhere to all relevant regulations.

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What Are Fire Rated Access Panels? 

Fire rated access panels are door and frame assemblies used to provide access to building utilities, such as electrical wiring, heating, ventilation, and plumbing fixtures. 

These panels are designed and constructed to resist the passage of fire for a specific duration, typically ranging from 1 to 2 hours.

Their unique design enables them to maintain the fire resistance level of the structure, ensuring that if a fire breaks out, the flames and heat will not pass through the panel, giving people more time to evacuate and preventing the spread of fire to other parts of the building.

Fire rated access panels are typically installed in walls and ceilings that require fire resistance ratings. 

How Does A Fire Rated Access Panel Work?

Fire rated access panels work by using specific fire-resistant materials and insulation. 

They are often made of steel or other non-combustible materials and include an insulation layer that expands with heat, thereby sealing off the panel opening in case of a fire. This insulation can be composed of various materials, including ceramic fibres or mineral wool.

When a fire occurs, the high temperatures trigger the insulation, causing it to expand and fill any gaps. 

This action restricts the passage of flames and smoke through the panel, helping maintain the compartmentation of the building and preventing the spread of fire.

Fire-rated Access Panel Requirements

Access panels that are fire-rated necessitate the capability to self-latch and self-close. 

Any individual accessing a hidden space via a fire-rated access door that self-closes should be able to manage the mechanism from the interior without the aid of a key or additional instruments. 

It is vital to adhere to the listing specifics when installing fire-rated access panels.

We stock a range of access panels here at Materials Market. From picture frame panels to beaded panels, you can find a wide selection of products on our designated access panel homepage

Frequently Asked Fire Rated Questions

What Are The Common Fire Ratings for Access Panels?

Fire ratings are measured in terms of time (minutes or hours) that a panel can withstand fire exposure while maintaining its structural integrity. Common fire ratings for access panels are typically 1 hour (60 minutes) or 2 hours (120 minutes), based on standard fire tests. However, higher ratings are available for specific high-risk areas.

How Are Access Panels Installed?

Access panels can be installed in different ways, depending on the type and location. Some panels are designed for surface mounting, where they are attached directly to the wall, ceiling, or floor surface. 

Others are meant for recessed installation, fitting into an opening in the surface and creating a flush finish. 

Installation methods can vary, so it is essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation.

Can Fire Rated Access Panels be Customised?

Yes, fire rated access panels can be customised to fit specific needs. This includes different sizes, materials, and finishes to match the aesthetic of the surrounding area. However, any customisations must still meet the requisite fire safety standards and regulations.

Where Should Fire Rated Access Panels be Installed?

Fire rated access panels should be installed in any wall or ceiling that requires a fire-resistance rating. This can include areas like stairwells, corridors, and utility rooms, where they provide secure and easy access to critical building services.

What Are Some Applications of General Access Panel? 

Access panels find extensive use in various residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Some common applications include:

  • Building maintenance and repairs: Access panels allow quick and convenient access to pipes, valves, electrical panels, and wiring, making inspections and repairs hassle-free.

  • HVAC system maintenance: Access panels facilitate servicing and cleaning of HVAC ducts, air filters, and equipment.

  • Security systems: Access panels are often utilised to conceal wiring for security systems, surveillance cameras, and alarm controls.

  • Plumbing installations: Access panels provide access to plumbing connections, enabling inspections and repairs without the need for intrusive demolition.

  • Electrical installations: Electricians can easily access wiring connections, circuit breakers, or junction boxes through access panels, simplifying electrical maintenance tasks.

Are Fire Rated Access Panels Required by Law?

Yes, depending on the local building codes and regulations, fire rated access panels may be a legal requirement. These codes are in place to ensure the safety of the occupants and are typically enforced by local building or fire safety authorities.

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