This week you are almost certain to have been in a building, either your home, office or maybe a shop, while being silently protected. Probably without noticing, the fire doors standing guard over your safety.
Fire doors form an important part of the fire safety precautions built into many buildings, which along with alarms, lights, elements of the buildings structure and signage; sit waiting to protect us when required; which is why they were celebrated in fire door safety week 25th September to 1st October 2017.
Fire door safety week, promoted by the British Woodworking Federation and Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS), was intended to raise awareness of the critical role that fire doors play.
A correctly fitted good quality fire door and frame can contain a fire for 30 minutes or more, giving time for alarms to sound and people to safely leave the building. The week highlighted issues of poor installation and maintenance to encourage building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their doors. The photo, above, shows a still from a fire test of two doors (courtesy of Fire Door Safety Week), with only one fitted correctly. At just under four and a half minutes into the test there is no doubt which is which.
While we may despair at yet another week dedicated to promoting, what is probably yet another important cause, this is one on our doorstep, or even over our doorstep and up the stairs. There are a few simple steps to consider to keep the buildings we live and work in, safe.
Fire Door Safety Week suggested these tips for a 5 Step Fire Door Check that anyone can do:
- Check for certification: Is there a label or plug on top (or occasionally on the side) of the door to show it is a certificated fire door? If there is, that’s good news.
- Check the gaps: The gaps around the top and sides of the door should be consistently less than 4mm when closed. A £1 coin is about 3mm thick so use that to give a feel for the scale. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm is not uncommon), but it does depend on the door. As a rule of thumb, if you can see light under the door, the gap is likely to be too big. If the gaps are too big smoke and fire could travel through the cracks. It’s good news if the door fits the frame and it’s not damaged.
- Check the seals: Doors have smoke seals to prevent cold smoke passing around the edge of the door to keep smoke from a fire contained and escape routes clear. These smoke seals can be rubber strips or brush seals around the perimeter of the door, that completely seal the gap between the closed door and frame. Doors may also have intumescent seals, normally white or brown plastic looking strips, set into the edge of the door or frame that when exposed to heat swell up to seal the gap between the door and frame. Both types of seal should be intact with no sign of damage. These seals are vital to ensure fire and smoke can’t move through the gaps.
- Check the hinges: Hinges should be firmly fixed (a modern fire door has three or more of them), with no missing or broken screws.
- Check the door closes properly: If the door is opened about halfway, let go. and allowed it to close by itself it should close firmly onto the latch. A fire door only works when it’s closed.
The fire door safety week published records from fire door inspections of 31 sites identifying 2506 faults. The most common faults were
- 61% with damaged or missing fire or smoke seals
- 1/3 incorrect signage
- 34% with excessive gaps
- Over 15% have damage to the door leaf
- 1 in 5 have unsuitable hinges
The week’s activities encouraged us all to notice our fire doors, report when something’s wrong, and yes it did insist those wedges under the doors had to go. More information is available at http://firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk/
Stratton Creber Commercial building consultancy review fire safety provision when preparing building surveys for building purchasers, when undertaking design work and in planning property maintenance. Contact Matthew Williams 07834 996419