fire door
September’s been a busy month for fire safety campaigns. At the start of the month it was Business Fire Safety Week. This year it focused on arson prevention, reducing false alarms and preventing the most common types of business fires. The week also highlighted the importance of protecting sleeping accommodation which is a theme that continues during another National Fire Chiefs Council-backed safety week, this time about fire doors. Fire Door Safety Week Now in its seventh year, Fire Door Safety Week runs from 23-29 September 2019. The week highlights the critical role fire doors have in protecting both property and people. They are designed to buy time; fire doors have an essential part to play in slowing down the spread of smoke and fire and protecting escape routes out of buildings. This year, the week’s particularly highlighting the safety messages connected to the effective management of fire doors in sleeping accommodation; it goes without saying that when residents or tenants are asleep, they’re especially vulnerable if a fire breaks out. In particular, the week is reinforcing the importance of fire doors in HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation). Landlords (or sometimes the managing agents) are legally responsible for managing fire door safety as part of their overall set of fire safety responsibilities. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency on the part of some landlords to overlook their importance. Specification and installation practices have not always been as rigorous as they should be. Not all landlords have them regularly inspected to ensure they remain fit for purpose and maintain them as well as they should. The 5 step fire door check Part of the aim of this year’s Fire Door Safety Week is to encourage tenants to equip themselves with the basic knowledge needed to carry out simple checks on the doors. If they have any concerns about the fire doors, they are then advised to raise them with their landlord. If they find they’re not making any progress on this front they are advised to contact their local fire and rescue service or council for further guidance. Irrespective of whether you are responsible for an HMO or any other form of sleeping accommodation premises, it makes sense to get in the habit of doing the 5 step fire door check. In fact, anyone who has fire safety responsibilities for any kind of commercial, public or multiple occupancy building should be carrying out thorough checks to make sure doors are continuing to work correctly. While it doesn’t replace the need for a full fire door inspection from a competent person, it does help to quickly identify any problems that have materialised since the last inspection.
  1. Look to see if the door is third party certificated – there should be labels or markings that identify it as such. The label could be on the top of the door so you might need a mirror to look up there or take a picture with your phone.
  2. Make sure the door is marked with the right signage and fits closely against the frame.
  3. Look whether there’s an undamaged seal all around the door so that smoke and fire would be prevented from getting through. It should be an intumescent seal that swells up if exposed to heat. Check the gap as well – there should be an even gap all around the door of about 3-4mm (roughly the width of a pound coin edge). It can be slightly larger underneath the door but you shouldn’t be able to see any light coming through.
  4. Make sure the fire-rated hinges fit well. There should be at least 3 sets of hinges. Are there any signs of damage or screws missing? If so, there’s a risk that the door won’t be held in the correct position.
  5. Check over whether the door’s damaged in any other way. Open it to about halfway and see what happens when you let it go. Does it fall into place or is it catching anywhere? Does the latch mechanism work ok? Remember a fire door should never be left wedged open either.
If the fire door fails on any of these points it’s vital they are addressed quickly. For more information about Fire Door Safety Week and the resources that accompany it you can visit the campaign’s website and follow the hashtag #FireDoorSafetyWeek on social media. And remember that as fire safety specialists we can help with any queries you have about all aspects of fire safety legislation compliance, so please do call us.