WHY FIRE DOORS ARE IMPORTANT
Fire doors are a really important element of a buildings fire safety strategy. When installed correctly and properly maintained they stop fires and smoke from spreading through a building, giving people time to escape and the fire and rescue service time to attend and save the building from the effects of fire.
They are specifically designed to withstand fire for up to 30 minutes.
They are a legal requirement for flats which open onto communal areas shared with other tenants.
They are designed to automatically close after being opened therefore holding flames back and stopping the spread of the fire and toxic smoke into escape routes, corridors and other flats.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FIRE DOORS
If you are responsible for the property, you need to ensure fire safety precautions are maintained to keep people safe. This includes almost all buildings that have communal areas. Property manager's responsibilities include shared areas in houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), blocks of flats and maisonettes.
EXISTING FIRE DOORS
Modern fire doors are different to old standard fire doors, often called ‘Notional’ fire doors. These doors may have been in place for many years and complied with the standards of their time, however, this does not necessarily mean that they are still fit for purpose. Even if they are still in good condition, they will not necessarily provide the protection for which they were originally intended.
Modern doors are equipped with what's called intumescent strips and cold smoke seals. Older ‘notional’ doors may not have these fitted, and are often fitted into frames with a 1 inch or 25 mm door stop. The ‘notional’ door may be suitable in place if it is not warped or gapped to the extent that it requires replacement, its replacement will be a modern style fire door. Where doors are replaced that are required to be fire resisting, they should not be replaced by ordinary doors and the person replacing the door should ensure that the door is a fire door.
The Building Regulations 2010 – Regulation 38
This regulation places a responsibility on the developer to pass on relevant fire safety information to the ‘Responsible Person’ when they hand over the building. Specifically, the regulation states ‘“Fire safety information” means information relating to the design and construction of the building or extension, and the services, fittings and equipment provided in or in connection with the building or extension which will assist the responsible person to operate and maintain the building or extension with reasonable safety;’
Approved Document B (Fire Safety) Volumes 1 & 2
Approved Document B (Fire Safety) Volumes 1 & 2 addresses fire safety precautions which must be adhered to, to ensure the safety of occupants, firefighters and those close to the building in the event of a fire and covers issues such as where fire doors should be fitted, how long the fire resistance period of the door must be, signage and the need for smoke seals.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force in 2006. The Order contains various Articles that place the duty on the Responsible Person to ensure the building is safe and adequately maintained to reduce the risk of fire. Risk assessments must be carried out to identify and remove all potential fire risks, including carrying out regular checks on the condition of all fire doors. Article 17 of the Order ‘The responsible person must ensure, where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, that the fire precautions are maintained in good working order.’. This includes Fire doors.