When did you last look at your fire doors?

23rd September 2020

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Fire Door

Fire Risk Assessments-and Your Responsibilities.

Fire doors are a must-have for many buildings. They offer resistance to the spread of smoke and fire by compartmentalising the property providing us with enough time to evacuate and get to a place of safety.

But did you know that more than three quarters (76%) of the fire doors inspected by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) in 2019 were condemned as not fit for purpose? (CIAT;2019).

With current legislation clearly putting the responsibility for the fire safety and fire doors with building owners and managers, what are you doing to make sure your doors are fit for purpose?

What is a Fire Risk Assessment? (FRA)

As an employer, landlord, owner, occupier or manager, you have a legal duty under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure fire safety within your business.

As part of this, you are legally required to have a Fire Risk Assessment, (FRA). The FRA provides a snapshot of how the building safeguards occupants in the event of a fire and identifies any corrective actions required in order to achieve a satisfactory level of fire safety. Buildings falling short of an acceptable standard can be served with a Fire Safety Order which can shut down use of the building.

Within the assessment a Responsible Person (RP) is identified and it is the responsibility of the RP to ensure the FRA is in place and up to date. Any dereliction of duties under this role could lead to criminal prosecution and therefore this role needs to be taken seriously.

How often should the FRA be reviewed? 

Good practice would see a FRA reviewed at least annually however fire doors should be examined every 6 months. If your property is a is hotel or care home with occupants that may not be able to respond quickly to a fire these formal reviews are essential and need to conducted by an accredited Fire Door Inspector.

However, it is the responsibility of the RP to review fire doors on a day to day basis. The RP will need to adopt a risk-assessed approach in ensuring Fire doors remain compliant between these reviews, checking for wear and tear and addressing defects as they arise.

You now know how often to inspect fire doors but do you know what you should be looking for?

Every inspection should cover any damage (whether superficial or structural), or deformation to all door assembly elements, including door leaves, door frames, hardware, glazing and seals. All defects and damage should be noted against the relevant door along with a suggested repair and when it will be carried out.

We have put together a list of some observations that should be made for each of the fire doors in your facility.  This list is not exhaustive, and should not be used as a substitute for any recommendations from the Local Fire and Rescue Service and/or Building Control Authorities, but is a good place to start:

Labels And Signage

Look for a label, a plug or similar marking on the top (or occasionally on the side) of the door to show that it’s certificated & follow the instructions.   

All ironmongery such as locks, latches, closers & hinges, must be CE marked & compatible with the door leaf’s certification. 

Check the door is marked clearly with appropriate signage.

Without a certification mark you cannot be sure it is a fire door.

Gaps and Seals

Look for any intumescent seals/cold smoke seals around the door or frame & check that they are intact with no sign of damage.   

Check the gap around the door frame is constant and less then 4mm when the door is closed. 

The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm), but it does depend on the door. 

Ideally, you should not see light under the door.

Make sure gaps are not so big that smoke and fire could travel through the cracks. 

Be sure the seals will expand if they’re in contact with heat, and will stop the fire (and in some cases smoke) moving through the cracks. 

Use a fire GAP gauge or a £1 coin to get a feel for scale. (A £1 coin is 3mm thick)

Hinges and Closers

All ironmongery such as locks, latches, closers & hinges, must be CE marked & compatible with the door leaf’s certification.  

Check that hinges are firmly fixed (3 or more of them) with no missing screws. 

Check door handles are securely fitted and function correctly.

Glass and glazing

Be sure seals and beads are intact, continuous and attached firmly to the frame and free from damage.   

Ensure the glass is free from damage, checking both sides of the door.

Leaf and Frame Operation

Check the door closes firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame.   

Ensure the door closes correctly around all parts of the frame. 

Check electromagnetic hold is approved device and complies with BS 5839

Check that the closer shuts the door onto the latch from any position – check from 75mm from the closed position 

Check door leaves are in good condition and free from damage.

Maintaining and repairing Fire Doors.

The installation, maintenance and repair of fire doors is not as straight-forward as that of an ordinary door. On certified fire doors where faults are discovered they should be repaired as quickly as possible by someone BM TRADA accredited.

When is a Fire Door not a Fire Door?

There is a difference between modern fire doors and their requirements and older type doors, often called ‘Notional fire doors’.  These doors may have been in place for many years and have met earlier standards of manufacture and legislation. They are often still fit for purpose, providing they are in good condition.  These doors should be examined, repaired and maintained to the same standards as any certified fire door.  As with all fire doors any  work to them must also be carried out by someone who is independently accredited enabling them to self certify the works they have undertaken reach the standard of a certified fire door.

Sticking to the Rules.

Any RP needs to feel confident in making reasonable judgement calls about the safety and risks surrounding fire doors and compartmentation routes. Understanding statutory limits and the health and safety laws will enable them to make sensible decisions regarding the fire safety of a building ranging from simply as adding more fire detection in areas with little protection, to replacing doors and rearranging a room to create a safe evacuation route.

How MacConvilles can help you.

Some of you may be keen to tackle the Fire Risk Assessment for yourselves and if this is the case the government provides a wealth of information on the workplace fire safety responsibilities, however if your premises is complicated or the thought of taking this on is too daunting please contact us and we will help you out.

With many years of experience in dealing with fire safety and the inspection and installation of fire protection works in all different kinds of buildings, we are well placed to offer advice that protects your occupants, your property and you.

Call us today to discuss your fire safety requirements.

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