Hold-open systems make fire protection doors accessible

Closing smoke and fire protection doors can be rather irritating for people who need to pass through them repeatedly. But if they are equipped with a hold-open system, they can remain open because hold-open systems guarantee safe closing of doors in the event of a fire. Because these are complex installations, regular maintenance is mandatory.

Fire and smoke protection doors: necessary, but often inconvenient

Fires can break out quickly, often without anyone noticing. Sealing is always the most effective measure to prevent the spread of deadly smoke gases. This means that fire resistant walls in buildings should prevent the spread of fire and smoke for as long as possible. However, they can do this only if the fire protection closers (fire protection doors) in fire protection walls, i.e. doors and gates, are closed in the event of fire. Fire protection doors must feature door closers so that they shut independently.

But doors are often difficult to open. Often opening a door is in itself felt to be difficult and impractical. Children and people with physical limitations may require external help. For these people, a door is a barrier. Keeping doors open for longer periods, or permanently, is often therefore often desirable in normal situations. However holding a door open mechanically using a wedge or hook is grossly negligent from a fire protection point of view because the door closer is then unable to close the door in the event of a fire.

The GEZE wireless extension kit allows you to wirelessly connect the ceiling-mounted detectors and the manual trigger switch to the lintel-mounted detector on all GEZE hold-open systems. It's easy to retrofit. Because separate cables are no longer needed. This facilitates planning, especially in listed buildings.

FA GC 170 - example of a hold-open system © GEZE GmbH

Hold-open systems instead of wedges

Approved electric hold-open systems are more beneficial and suitable than wedges in terms of fire protection technology. They disable the self-closing function of a fire protection door in a controlled way. This means that they keep fire protection doors open, but automatically release them in the event of a fire so that door closers can do their job.

Hold-open systems are complicated technical systems. They consist of at least one fire detector, one power supply, one hold-open device and one trigger mechanism. Hold-open devices are often electro-magnetic systems such as hold-open magnets, magnet valves and magnet couplings. Hold-open magnets require magnetic counter plates to be mounted on the wall. The other systems are already integrated into the door closer or the guide rail.

All types of hold-open device have one thing in common: they are activated by the fire detector in the event of an alarm, or the trigger mechanism in the event of a power failure. They release the door, and it is then brought to a close by the door closer. If the door is a double-leaf door, an integrated closing sequence control feature makes sure the leaves close correctly. This means that the protective aim of the fire protection door has been achieved: it prevents the spread of fire and fire smoke.

The door can be released manually at all times

If an open door needs to be closed, intervention is possible at any time and the hold-open function can be triggered manually. This is because the type authorisation from the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt) prescribes a manually-operated trigger option. A manual trigger switch, which switches off the holding current, can perform this function. This must be red and display the inscription “close door" . They must also be located nearby, and must not be covered by doors which block access. If the hold-open device can be triggered by slightly pushing on the door leaf, no manual trigger switch is needed.

Furthermore, swing door drives and free swing door closers which permit almost resistance-free passage through fire protection doors must be taken into account as a part (hold-open device) of a hold-open system and may already be included as components of the hold-open system, such as for example a power supply, trigger mechanism and fire detector.

Hold-open systems for fire protection doors

Fire and smoke protection doors should prevent fire or smoke in buildings from spreading. They must be self-closing, in line with the "Guideline for the Authorisation of Fire Protection Closers" of the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt) in Berlin. If they need to be kept open, an officially approved hold-open system must be used for this purpose.

A hold-open system consists of a minimum of

  • a fire alarm
  • a trigger mechanism (receives signals from fire detectors and releases the connected hold-open device.)
  • a hold-open device (for example hold-open magnet with a magnetic counter plate mounted on the wall, or an integrated electrical function in the door closer.)
  • A power supply
  • a manual trigger switch for manual closing (this can be omitted if the hold-open function can be overridden by low pressure on the door leaf.)
  • Safety devices, if applicable

Hold-open systems can also be controlled by other fire detectors or fire detector groups such as fire detector systems.

Type authorisation of hold-open systems

A hold-open system requires a general type authorisation (aBG) as proof of usability in Germany. For this, it must be subject to a suitability inspection in accordance with the requirements of the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt). This type of authorisation is usually valid for five years and can be extended on request.

If the general type authorisation for a hold-open system expires, the installation is no longer approved for installation in the building. Existing installations may continue to be used, however, if they meet the original demands, and are regularly inspected and maintained. Building operators should therefore keep the acceptance protocol from the company which installed the installation, and the proof of usability.

Generally, only complete hold-open systems with all the corresponding parts are inspected and approved. Exchanging an individual component for a device which is no longer listed in the type authorisation results in the whole hold-open system losing its operating permission. A new acceptance process is needed after valid authorisation has been obtained.

GEZE hold-open systems - compact and safe

Fire protection doors with door drives must always be coupled with a hold-open system.

Fire protection doors with door drives must always be coupled with a hold-open system. © Nikolaus Grünwald / GEZE GmbH

GEZE has a wide range of hold-open system available, designed specifically for use in fire prevention systems. They are all inspected and certified in accordance with the relevant standards, and are subject to a general type authorisation from the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBt).

Compact hold-open systems by GEZE consist of one overhead door closer and one guide rail system. Power supplies, smoke switch control units and electromechanical hold-open systems are integrated into the guide rails - there are therefore no bulky parts on the door or on the walls. For the system variants for double-leaf fire protection doors, the electrical function for both door leaves and the mechanical closing sequence control are integrated in a continuous guide rail.

An award-winning special feature is the FA GC 170 radio extension, which eliminates the need for time-consuming wiring of the individual components of the hold-open system. This advantage is particularly useful when retrofitting existing buildings, in particular listed buildings.

Go to the reference: Fire protection retrofitting in listed building

Simple installation and commissioning via ECwire technology

Versions of GEZE hold-open systems are available with double wire ECwire technology for simple cabling, for example additional smoke detectors. This system permits convenient installation, networking and commissioning of additional ceiling-mounted detectors.

GEZE hold-open devices

The following are also included in the GEZE range: a number of hold-open devices for overhead and integrated door closers, floor-mounted door closers and for automatic swing door drives. These can be individually integrated into the building concept according to a client's wishes. A hold-open device is part of a hold-open system, which it forms together with a smoke switch control unit (including a trigger mechanism, a fire detector and a power supply).

Go to the GEZE hold-open systems and devices

Numerous standards and guidelines

GEZE can provide comprehensive consultancy support on the basis of its specialist knowledge and many years of experience in fire protection planning.

GEZE installers are trained to meet all standards and guidelines, and so that the installed hold-open system meets demands.

Architect hotline

Our project consultants are available via the GEZE architect hotline (Mo-Thu: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. / Fri: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.) to provide you with detailed information and advice on our products and their use. Give us a call on +49 (0)7152/203-112.

Acceptance and maintenance: performed only by experts

Be aware of typical errors when installing hold-open systems

  • the selected hold-open system does not fit into the opening angle (the door closer is in contact with the door)
  • door is too wide
  • cable routing is incorrect/missing
  • no discharge of smoke is possible
  • contamination of the equipment during the construction phase
  • protective cap has not been removed
  • work after commissioning without protection, smoke detector contamination 
  • air inlets have been sealed after the initial acceptance due to works, and protective covers have not been removed after the end of works
  • the distance from the lintel-mounted detector to the ceiling is too low

Acceptance and maintenance of hold-open systems may be performed only by an expert or an authorised representative of the manufacturer. The expertise of these workers must be proven.

Inspection and maintenance can also be performed by GEZE service technicians

Hold-open systems need to be checked monthly, and be inspected and maintained once a year. The monthly inspection is necessary to determine whether the door closes properly.

To safely operate hold-open systems, the following needs to be ensured:

  • correct installation in accordance with the requirements of the type authorisation, or the manufacturer specifications
  • maintenance requirements have been met
  • component exchange time limits have been followed
  • maintenance documentation is satisfactory
  • minimum qualification level for maintenance staff has been met

Service technicians from GEZE Service GmbH are of course available for inspection and maintenance.