fire doors

Fire Door Safety Week is taking place from the 20th to the 26th September. And while fire doors might not sound like a subject that justifies an entire week being devoted to them, don’t underestimate their importance. Fire doors play a crucial role in fire protection as they slow down the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building and buy time for occupants to escape. If you look at the information that’s been featured on the Fire Door Safety Week’s website over the past few years, it’s likely it will strike you quite how important a contribution they actually make.

The level of neglect is worrying

What might also strike you, however, is the fact that in many cases fire doors are not being taken care of properly. In some instances, they are being completely neglected. Some of the reports on the website highlight the issue of residents repeatedly raising fire safety concerns, and yet not seeing any action initiated to rectify them. For example the 2019 Fire Door Safety Week film talks about social housing and the lack of response to fire safety concerns that are raised.  This isn’t just a frustrating situation for residents; it puts them in the awful position of knowing that someone else’s lack of action has the potential to put them and their family’s safety at risk.

It’s worrying that some organisations take such a casual attitude towards fire doors because the price that can be paid when they are not properly maintained can be catastrophic. Fire door failings were highlighted during investigations into the Grenfell Tower tragedy. And while the inquiry is complex and far reaching, some of the claims made, such as the council saying no to fire door inspections as they could not quantify the safety benefits, are very concerning indeed.

And reports continue to suggest that some authorities are still not acting as swiftly as they need to. Only recently, Haringey Council was in the news for taking money off residents to provide new fire doors but then not actually having them fitted. The reason offered was that they were seeking assurances about the suitability of the fire doors which is of course understandable if there are concerns. Yet the fact that it has taken two years is worrying given that presumably the current fire doors remain in need of replacement as they are no longer adequate.

Fire door failings are a widespread problem

But inadequate fire doors aren’t just a problem in the residential sector.  There are many places failing in their duty to ensure fire doors are able to hold back a fire and give people time to evacuate.

Last year The Fire Door Inspection Scheme revealed that around three quarters of the fire doors it had inspected during 2019 were not fit for purpose. It had carried out over 100,000 inspections in more than 2,700 buildings across the UK. In almost a third of cases, doors had been poorly installed and frequently occurring problems included gaps around the doors that were too wide, rendering them useless in stopping fire and smoke spreading. At least those organisations had had their doors checked and were in a position to address the failings. But it is troubling to think about the number of organisations that have not had their doors inspected, and what that potentially could mean for the safety of building users.

Are fire doors given the level of priority they should have in your organisation?

Across the UK it is highly likely there are many fire doors that are not fit for purpose; don’t let that be the case in your building. You’ll find lots of resources on the Fire Door Safety Week website including bespoke advice for specific sectors. It explains more about responsibilities for fire door safety and outlines the simple monthly checks and visual inspections that building owners can do to make sure there are no obvious defects that would stop their fire doors functioning correctly in the event of a fire.

Fire door maintenance is a key part of complying with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 so as well as carrying out the monthly checks, it’s recommended by the British Standards that fire doors are inspected every six months by a competent professional. If you would like to find out more about our fire door inspection services then please do get in touch with us.