Inside the Making of Fireco’s DorMag Pro

Matt Ball

Sean Baldwin interviews Matt Ball on Fireco’s innovative DorMag Pro, highlighting its development, unique wireless design, and impact on fire safety 

In this insightful interview, Sean Baldwin of Fireco delves into a detailed conversation with Matt Ball, a Product Design Engineer with over four years at Fireco, about the inception and development of the DorMag Pro, Fireco’s latest innovation in fire safety. Celebrating 30 years of fire safety excellence, Fireco, known for its million-plus-selling Dorgard door retainer, has now introduced the DorMag Pro, its first wireless door magnet. The interview unpacks the challenges and breakthroughs in creating a product that stands out in the market for its wireless functionality, design aesthetics, and stringent compliance with fire safety standards.  

Matt shares the intricate process from conceptual sketches to rigorous testing and final product release, emphasising the product’s unique features such as its battery efficiency, sleek design, and fail-safe state mechanism. This conversation not only highlights Fireco’s commitment to innovation but also its dedication to providing solutions that blend functionality with design, marking a significant milestone in fire safety technology. 

Hi Matt, can you tell us a bit about yourself?  

I’m a Product Design Engineer working here at Fireco. I’ve been here just over 4 years now and have been involved in multiple design and engineering projects relating to improving both the functionality and aesthetics of Fireco’s product range.  One of these projects, seen from initial conception sketches through to manufacture, is the DorMag Pro, which has recently been released. 

There’s quite a lot of excitement at Fireco about this new product. What exactly is DorMag Pro? 

It’s our new magnetic door retaining device, which is designed to be installed behind the door. It’s wireless; it holds open the door and is activated by radio, releasing during a fire alarm.  

What would you say makes a DorMag different? 

Most of the magnetic retainers on the market at the moment are wired-in solutions. So, the thinking behind our DorMag magnetic door retainer is that it would be wire-free. It’s powered by a single battery pack that consists of three lithium cells that provide extensive power supply to the device. Also, the product offers a compact wire-free design that is easy to install. 

What’s special about the magnet? 

The Pro unit is fixed to the wall, and the Door Keeper is fitted to the door. Magnetised together, they form a simple solution to latch open the door. The door can be released easily by pressing the button on the front. This sends a pulse to the electromagnet, briefly demagnetising the electromagnet, causing the keeper and the door to release. The magnet also retracts inwards, which is a key feature of the product. Once the magnet has retracted, you won’t be able to latch the keeper onto it – it is now in a fail-safe state.  

You might ask, “Why can’t you just have the current switched off to the magnet or the magnetism taken away from the magnet during an alarm?” The problem is that this works by having a permanent electromagnet that delivers a current to that magnet to demagnetise it. Because it’s a battery-operated device, if you continuously fire a pulse through that magnet with a current flowing through it, you’re going to drain through your batteries really quickly. A big part of the project is trying to overcome that, that is why you also retract the magnet at the same time. The key thing is that once in that state, it’s now not using any excess power. It’s not using anything but its quiescent (sleep) current to detect its transmitter (ProHub or ProExtender), to tell it when to come out of the alarm active state.

Can you tell us about the development and testing process? 

The initial brief was quite open, which allowed plenty of room for creative freedom within the project. We really wanted to design something with form and aesthetics at the heart of the project, and the engineering would follow that. 

Often, when faced with compliance requirements, people tend to envision clunky, unappealing solutions. However, we were determined to challenge this by creating products that not only met regulatory standards but also boasted an attractive and discreet appearance when installed on doors or walls. This emphasis on design was integral to the project.   

Testing proved to be a significant phase of the project, consuming the majority of our time. Given the stringent standards within the fire industry, rigorous testing protocols were essential. For instance, DorMag Pro underwent extensive testing to meet standards such as EN1155, which specifically addresses fire door safety-retaining products. This included evaluating its capacity to release the alarm when prompted, as well as enduring 50,000 cycles on our in-house fire door test rig to ensure durability beyond expectations. 

Then we have in-house product testing, fitting it in situ on our doors and walls. And then we’ve been rolling it out to beta site customers. These are customers that are willing to help us out, take on the product while we monitor it, get feedback and make improvements in the firmware or hardware until we’re completely confident to release the product to market…

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Rebecca Spayne Managing Editor, International Fire Buyer
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920


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