A correctly installed fire door remains fundamental to most fire safety strategies in buildings, despite overall technological advances in building fire safety.
Changes in regulations regarding fire safety came into force in 2006 following the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales). Now, one of the legal duties of building occupiers is to appoint a ‘responsible person’ (defined in article 3) in virtually all types of building in England and Wales. Note: This person is referred to as the ‘Duty Holder’ in Scottish law and the ‘appropriate person’ in Northern Ireland.
The duty of the responsible person is to carry out the annual fire risk assessment and ensure the safety of anyone using their premises. These regulations acknowledge that it cannot be left to one person alone to be responsible for building fire safety. Alongside the duties of the ‘responsible person’ there are several articles which directly refer to the training and general duties of ALL employees at work.
Fire Door Safety…
3 million fire doors are sold in the UK every year; however, there are concerns that a number of these are not fit for purpose – due to inadequate products, installation, repair and maintenance. These concerns have been raised in recent parliamentary debates (Westminster Hall debate, 3rd March 2015) and across the construction and property industry as a whole.
In recent years, there have been attempts to increase awareness to those responsible for specifying and maintaining fire doors in properties. In many cases, these efforts have been prompted by the tragic death of Sophie Rosser in 2012 who entered a burning building to rescue her fiancé (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-29213648). Sophie’s father, Julian Rosser has since been actively campaigning for the regular inspection and maintenance of fire doors in multi-occupancy residential buildings and an even closer definition of the ‘responsible person’ for these buildings.
The Fire Door Safety Week of 2014 was a crucial step towards increased awareness of fire door safety within the built environment. However, there is still much more that needs to be done. A recent report by BRE for a local authority indicated that “It was not possible to conclude that the fire doors would meet the required 30-minute fire resistance, due to a high level of defects”. This is not uncommon and is shocking when such consequences are considered in a real fire situation.
Fire Research and Training at BRE…
As the world leading experts in fire research and training, BRE offers a dynamic range of fire related services. A recently released 30 second video demonstrates just some of the active research and testing work that goes on at BRE.
The BRE Academy, the training division of BRE, in partnership with the Door and Hardware Federation (DHF), offer courses to ensure regulatory fire equipment, in the form of timber fire doors, steel fire doors and fire roller shutters are installed, repaired and maintained correctly within all buildings.
We offer a range of industry recognised fire safety courses designed to up-skill professionals to recognise the critical elements of a correctly specified and installed fire door. These courses also cover the inspection, repair and maintenance requirements into the future. Taking this further, the BRE Academy also runs full fire risk assessor training.
Now you have read this, what should you do?
We encourage everyone to have a look at any fire doors they pass, whether at work or at home, and check the door condition and report any concerns. A quick check only takes seconds, although, a full inspection by a qualified fire door inspector is always recommended.
- A fire door in a public building should be easily identified by a clear “Fire Door” label. Once you have identified a fire door you should make sure that it can close properly around all parts of the frame with a gap of no more than 3-4mm between the door and the frame.
- Check that the door is not blocked or wedged open and if you can see evidence of this having happened; inform the building users that this is a risk.
- A fire door should be kept in good condition. Check for damage on the door and all its edges, hinges, handles and glazing. Ensure that any smoke seal brushes or blades are not missing and are in good condition. Fire doors often come under a lot of stress and general wear and tear from daily use. If any of your fire doors are looking battered or chipped, you should seek the opinion of a qualified fire door inspector.