26 September - 2 October 2016
The beginning of October marks the end of some of our favourite seasonal events; Oktoberfest, a temperamental British Summer and most importantly, national Fire Door Safety Week.
The annual event is designed to raise public awareness of the important role fire doors play in saving lives and property in the event of a fire. The main event may have drawn to a close over the weekend but that does not mean you are excused from maintaining or inspecting your fire doors for another 12 months! In today’s blog post we are going to cover the some of the basic products and facts you need to know about fire doors including suitable hardware and fixings.
There are several steps you can take to help ensure your fire doors are used correctly. Fitting your fire doors with the appropriate signage helps to keep occupants informed that the fire door should remain closed.
If you require fire doors to be held open, don’t reach for a door wedge! Instead install either a hold open magnet or an electromagnetic door closer which has a hold open function. When correctly connected to an internal fire alarm system, hold open magnets will release the door from the open position when the fire alarm system has been triggered.
Similarly, electromagnetic door closers that feature a hold open function will keep the door open in normal circumstances but will close the door when a fire alarm is activated and power is cut to the unit.
Both devices are used widely in schools, hospitals and care homes to keep heavy fire doors open in busy thoroughfares.
The integrity of your fire door and its fire rating relies on it remaining intact. Chipped and damaged fire doors will allow fire and smoke to spread from one area to another. Installing finger and kick plates to your fire doors can help protect your door from the damage of daily use. Likewise, installing a large “D” pull handle on the pull side of a fire door can help reduce the damage of misuse and aid occupants to exit the building swiftly when required.
A fire door can only act as a barrier to the spread of fire when it is shut, so it’s important to check that the door can close on its own. If you let go of the door and find that it gets stuck on the floor or carpet then it may not be hanging in the frame correctly. Check the hinges are fitted correctly and the door closer is functioning properly.
A fire door is no regular door; it’s a carefully designed safety device that plays and important role in the passive fire protection of all commercial, public access and multiple occupancy buildings.
Fire doors are given a rating according to the length of time they can withstand a standard fire resistance test. Common fire door ratings include 30 minutes (FD30), 60 minutes (FD60), 90 minutes (FD90) and 120 minutes (FD120). All fire doors must also be fitted with the appropriate intumescent seals. When exposed to heat (like in the case of a fire) these seals are designed to expand, sealing the gap between the door leaf and frame to further reduce the spread of fire and smoke.
It is important to note that when we talk about fire doors we’re not just talking about the door leaf; the door must hang in a fire-rated frame and be fitted with the correct ironmongery and hardware for it to perform its role correctly in the case of a fire. For this reason, many contractors choose to fit pre-assembled fire door sets, which include the frame, seal and necessary ironmongery.
Fire doors are used to sub-divide a building to help reduce the speed at which a fire can spread from one area to another. It may not sound like much but when used correctly fire doors save lives and property.
On the other hand, an open fire door does nothing to stop the spread of fire. One of the main objectives of Fire Door Safety Week is to educate building owners on the correct specification, installation and maintenance of fire doors. But this work is all for nothing if the fire door is then wedged or propped open.
The design and maintenance of a fire door system may be the responsibility of employers and landlords but the correct use and implementation of these systems relies on employees and tenants to be vigilant about fire door safety.
We all are! Don’t be complacent about fire door safety; if you think a fire door in your building is faulty, report it to the person who owns or manages the building.
Under the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) that came into effect in 2005, all commercial, multiple-occupancy and public access buildings are required to nominate a “responsible person” who is in charge of assessing, implementing and maintaining a fire management plan. If you have any concerns about the safety of the fire doors in your flat or office, contact your nominated responsible person and request the doors be inspected by a registered FDIS inspector. It could save a life.