If you’re a building owner or manager or otherwise responsible for fire safety in your premises then you should find the five-step guide to checking your fire doors below invaluable.
One of those steps is ensuring that doors can close properly. The consequences of failing to do so were tragically illustrated in 2012 by the death of 23-year-old student Sophie Rosser. An inquest heard that her death could have been avoided if a self-closing fire door in the block of flats in Canary Wharf had closed properly when fire broke out.
According to research by Fire Door Safety Week, more than a third (36%) of building users admitted to wedging open or removing an automatic mechanism for closing a fire door because the door has annoyed them. While 46% of people (especially over 55s) said they’d have the common sense to close an open fire door, 20% admitted that they’d leave it open.
“We need to up the ante on fire door safety,” said Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week. “The rates of fire deaths and casualties are reducing, but there are still an average of 25 fatalities or injuries from building fires every day.
“Fire doors are a crucial first line of defence in many of these fires, and yet they remain a significant area of neglect. Fire doors are often the first thing to be downgraded in a specification, mismanaged throughout their service life, propped open, damaged and badly maintained.
“Ten years on from new laws being introduced, fire door failure is still a consistent feature of prosecutions under the Fire Safety Order. Just this year alone we know of hundreds of thousands of pounds of fines and prison sentences for people who have failed to meet their fire safety responsibilities.
“We’re finding faulty fire doors in buildings of every type – from council flats to care homes, hospitals to hotels, private rented homes to publicly listed company HQs. We want to see organisations and building owners in every sector pledge support to Fire Door Safety Week and take action today to check their fire doors.”
Backing Fire Door Safety Week – a campaign led by the British Woodworking Federation, BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door Scheme and Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) – Fire Minister Mark Francois MP said:
“Fire doors offer vital protection and can make a real difference to the impact of a fire. I commend the British Woodworking Federation and supporting organisations for this excellent industry-led Fire Door Safety Week and encourage everyone to use this timely reminder to check their fire doors, keep them closed and report any substandard ones to the owners of the building.”
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 anyone who owns, manages or is otherwise responsible for fire safety within a building (known under the law as the ‘responsible person’) are required to conduct a fire risk assessment, act on its findings and review the assessment periodically.
Unfortunately while the 2005 law has arguably strengthened fire safety and clarified where responsibility lies, awareness remains a major problem.
“When managers with formal responsibility for fire safety in their organisations were asked last year if they were fully aware of their legal obligations, almost half [47%] said they either did not know what they were, or admitted they were unclear,” says Mansell. “This is why we run Fire Door Safety Week, to drive up awareness of the correct specification, installation and maintenance of fire doors.”