Fire doors are a critical safety feature of hospital and healthcare buildings, providing 30 or 60 minutes protection from fire, smoke and heat. As a crucial element of compartment design, hospital fire doors help to create compartments around wards and departments to contain the spread of fire and smoke, thus limiting the area that may be affected by a fire.
It is vital to provide a barrier to protect escape routes for as long as possible in the case of a fire, particularly when it comes to healthcare settings where the mobility of building users may be severely limited. Doing so will not only ensure the safety of building users, but also help to protect costly equipment which is fundamental to providing an ongoing service.
Unfortunately, fire doors in hospitals and healthcare settings are vulnerable to the inevitable wear and tear of high usage. Because of this, it is important that they are checked on a regular basis, with an inspection scheduled with a qualified fire door inspector should any potential issues be found.
Fire doors are a nationwide legal requirement for Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). All doors that lead to an escape route must be fire resistant and close automatically, and it is also advised that fire doors are fitted to high-risk rooms such as kitchens.
Research suggests that certain types of HMOs present a significantly greater health and safety risks to tenants than comparable single occupancy dwellings, which further highlights that fire safety measures are not being implemented as they should.
Fire safety risk assessments carried out by ENTEC found that in all houses converted into bedsits, the annual risk of death per person is 6 times higher than in comparable single occupancy houses. In the case of bedsit houses of three storeys or more, the risk is 16 times higher than in comparable single occupancy houses.
Failing to install and maintain fire doors in an HMO property not only places inhabitants at increased risk, but can result in unlimited fines, with tenants also able to recoup the cost of their last 12 months rent.
Fines vary depending upon the offence, however landlords have been fined up to £55,000 for multiple fire safety breaches, and more where tenants have suffered injuries in a fire. If fire door regulations are not followed, it could also result in licences and insurance being invalidated in the case of any claim being made for fire damage.
The British Woodworking Federation has provided a fact sheet on fire door safety within HMO’s which you can download here, or you can read our previous blog post on how to complete a check on a fire door.
If you’ve read our previous blog post on the new legislation surrounding fire doors in buildings above and below 11m, your next question might be how to conduct a thorough fire door safety check
As part of their Fire Door Safety Week campaign, the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) set out a simple 5-step fire door check. Check out the key points below:
Find the certification label or plug. These are usually sited on top of the door, however they can occasionally be found on the side. If no label can be found, this may not be a certified fire door and should be reported.
Top tip: using a mirror or the front facing camera on your phone makes this easier!
The gaps around the top and sides of a fire door must be consistently between 2-4mm when the door is closed, with a gap tolerance of up to 8mm underneath the door. Excessive gaps mean that fire and smoke may be able to travel through and should be reported.
Top tip: a £1 coin is around 3mm thick and so can be used to help you get an idea for scale.
Look around the door or frame to identify any intumescent seals, checking that they are intact with no signs of damage. Any damage to these seals may prevent them from expanding in heat as designed which will hinder their ability to stop the passage of fire and should be reported.
Open the door and check that all hinges are firmly fixed. There should be at least three hinges per door with no missing or broken screws. Hinges which are not securely attached mean that the door may not be able to withstand the intensity of a fire as it should and should be reported.
Top tip: hinges which are not securely attached could also indicate that a door has not been well maintained
- Closing Properly
Ensure that the door closes firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or frame. You can do this by opening the door to around halfway, then letting go to see what happens when you allow it to close by itself. A fire door which is not able to fully close by itself will not be able to perform as it should in the event of a fire and should be reported.
Top tip: fire doors are only able to perform when closed and so should never be wedged open.
FrameFit offers a unique retrofit system which can be applied to doors with excessive gaps between the leaf and frame, quickly and easily bringing existing fire doors back into compliance.
By becoming part of the old system, FrameFit saves time, money and resources, whilst aiding in budget management over time.
For more information about FrameFit, contact our friendly team of experts today!
T: (0) 1442-899-942
Current and incoming legislation for fire doors below 11M – The Fire Safety [England] Regulations 2022
The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies that in any residential building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises falls within the scope of the Fire Safety Order, regardless of height, and as such do fall under the current – and incoming – fire door legislation and regulations.
Currently, the legislation regarding fire doors below 11 metres in height states that responsible persons have a duty to:
- Put in place general fire precautions in these buildings
- Make sure that all fire doors – including flat entrance doors – are capable of providing adequate protection.
The incoming legislation around fire doors is designed to prevent confusion and offer clear guidelines in regard to fire door safety in residential buildings. The changing legislation has come about as a result of investigations into fire door compliance and safety across the UK.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry noted that “Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases and in preserving the effective compartmentalisation”. Over the past few years, it has become clear that fire door safety is a matter of national importance: and this importance is demonstrated in the incoming regulations.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to:
- Undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts
- Undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.
Responsible persons for residential buildings below 11 metres in height will keep their current responsibilities for fire door safety. On top of their current responsibilities, responsible persons for residential buildings, regardless of height, will also be required to provide residents with two or more sets of information on fire doors.
Despite the current and incoming legislation, there is estimated to be 30 million non-compliant fire doors in the UK alone.
Many non-compliance issues relate to oversize gaps which reduce the effectiveness of the Fire Door and represent a significant risk to people and property. However, a large number of non-compliant fire doors also have issues on the head and bottom of the door.
FrameFit is a fully tested solution addressing this huge non-compliance issue. Our solution fits directly to door frames to reduce gap sizes to meet current and incoming fire door regulations.