September 26, 2016
This week is Fire Door Safety week where building owners are encouraged to think about how well maintained and installed their fire doors are.
According to the Fire Door Safety Week website, 3 million new fire doors are bought and installed every year in the UK, however many building owners neglect or misuse them once they are installed. The aim of the week is to raise awareness about the role fire doors in properties, encourage building owners and users to properly maintain them, and engage and educate people on the correct specification, installation and operation.
The aims listed on the Fire Door Safety Week website are applicable to everyone including landlords, business owners and tenants. For landlords though, there are specific responsibilities in terms of keeping tenants safe. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) states that landlords must keep properties and tenants safe. This is a legal responsibility, and landlords or the “responsible person” could be criminally prosecuted if their duties are not fulfilled. All non-domestic buildings must have a fire risk assessment, and any common areas of flats and multiple occupation houses must be risk assessed too.
Fire doors are included in this risk assessment and are specifically referenced in the FSO. Fire doors mean that any fires that do occur are compartmentalised in order to prevent flames and smoke from spreading throughout the building. This gives occupants added time to safely escape. If the door is damaged, incorrectly installed or propped open by occupants, the fire door will not work effectively, increasing the risk of injury or death.
To ensure fire doors are as effective as possible they must be checked regularly. The Fire Door Safety Week website has instructions on how to properly inspect your fire doors, but suggest that if you have legal responsibility to provide fire doors (as above), it is wise to enlist a professional to check them. Buying good quality fire doors initially will go some way to reducing the amount of maintenance required long term. Check the product has been fire tested (and has the relevant documentation to prove it) and always stick to the specifications when installing them.
Make sure your tenants are aware of their responsibilities with fire doors too. Encourage them to take action and report faulty or damaged doors immediately. Warn them of the dangers that come with propping or wedging open fire doors; the doors are there for a purpose and leaving them propped open over night or extended period through the day can be very dangerous.
If you would like more information on your responsibilities when it comes to fire doors and safety, visit the Fire Door Safety Week website.