We received this plea from a correspondent: “My mother is 92 years old & living in sheltered accommodation. They have fitted a door closer to her flat & she is now unable to get out or get back in alone. I am urgently looking for a soft close device which she is able to open & close alone. Doorstuff replied, “This is unfortunately a common problem when standard door closers are fitted to fire doors (to meet fire regulations) because they make the door too stiff for frail elderly people (young children in nursery schools face the same problem). The recommendations of The Equalities Act (old DDA) with respect to opening forces on a door allow for quite a stiff door closer, because the Fire Regulation Legislation regarding closing forces has to take priority. Standard door closers require much more force to open than they exert when closing, because their mechanism is inefficient. A facilities manager would aim to fit one of the following two door closer types (in order of preference):-
1. Electromagnetic free swing door closers, wired into the fire alarm, these units only act as a door closer once the fire alarm is activated. Normal opening & closing of the door is totally unaffected by having one of these fitted.
2. Cam action guide rail door closer, using a more efficient mechanism design than standard hydraulic closers, the opening forces are reduced and get easier as the angle of opening increases. The guide rail also helps with easing the opening forces. Because the mechanism is smaller, the units are more discreet and usually come with an attractive cover as standard.