Kathy Wilman (Reviewer of fire safety products)
I have worked within the fire and security market for more than 20 years. Testing and reviewing fire safety products.
I wanted to test and compare Dorgard and Shuttle, the fire door retainers, after learning about this niche and seemingly, “exciting” market of smart door wedges!
Hidden within the fire safety market lurks a unique niche in wire-free fire door retainers. In laments terms, intelligent door wedges! These devices started to appear in the late 90s in care homes, schools, universities, restaurants and hotels throughout the UK. The idea was inspired by those dancing flowers that would dance to music, often sold on market stools in the early 90s. Years later the concept was realised and born, the first product called “Dorgard”, a battery operated device used to hold open fire doors and close when it heard a sound louder than 65db. As wedging fire doors open is illegal and dangerous, and the only alternative was a hard wired door magnet, up to 5 times the price. The Dorgard was a pioneer product of its time and soon become popular as a cost effective solution for wedged open fire doors.
Fast forward 20 years later and the concept has grown, with 4 companies now manufacturing wire-free fire door retainers.
Perhaps, the best known competitor to Dorgard is Shuttle. A product designed and developed by an X Dorgard employee (its so Tesla esque!). No one knows the story in full, and its surrounded in mystery! The director is shy to interview, but apparently, the employee, frustrated with product design, poor management and lack of vision, left the organisation and set up a new company called Sonicco in 2014. In late 2016 they launched Shuttle, a smart fire door retainer with some interesting evolutions.
The Sonicco product, Shuttle, looks slim, and the updated shape brings the design from the 90s, into the 21st century. There are 3 main factors that make the Shuttle product stand out. The Shuttles listening technology means it will only close to the fire alarm sound. Dorgard was designed to listen for sounds above 65db only, meaning the gadget will close when it hears anything! The Shuttles upgrade means the fire door stays open, and doesn't close randomly upon any loud sound. The second factor is the battery life. Shuttles impressive “upto 3years battery life” saves the user a fortune in battery changes. Dorgard batteries can last just a few weeks. One customer of Shuttle confirmed that they had “never changed the batteries” and that was “4 years ago!” lastly, I was impressed with the products ability to close to any fire alarm type. We tested the product on all, and every time it worked.
My conclusion, both products clearly built with passion, the Dorgard is a pioneer in fire door ironmongery design, but Shuttle is an advanced version with truly unique and up to date technology.
Its always good to see how products evolve over the years, especially when competitors enter the market and shake things up a bit…. I mean the wire-free fire door retaining market is hardly boring!
Please check out the products we reviewed in the following links: