One of the most important fire safety aspects in any building, whether it’s a block of flats or an office environment, are the fire doors. Proper maintenance and ensuring that these are fit for purpose and repaired or replaced when damaged can literally mean the difference between life and death if a fire breaks out.
The Benefits of Fire Doors
In all commercial buildings, fire doors and other protective measures are a legal requirement and businesses need to have the appropriate policies in place to keep people safe if a fire breaks out.
The key role of fire doors is to help keep an outbreak compartmentalised so that it doesn’t spread or at least takes longer to spread. A well-maintained fire door may be able to keep a fire in one particular area for as long as 30 minutes to an hour, all of which gives enough time for people to exit the building safely and for the fire brigade to attend. Minimising the risk to people and property.
Fire doors have several components that help them do this. They are generally thicker than standard doors and have tight seals which are designed to prevent smoke getting through. Any damage can impact on a fire door’s integrity and this is something that all staff need to be aware of.
Spotting Fire Door Damage
We can, of course, get tied up with a lot of daily things that demand our constant attention when running a business and you are unlikely to spot fire door damage. That’s why it is vital to have regular inspections to make sure everything is still okay. Here are some points to consider when inspecting your fire doors:
- Your fire door should close automatically once it’s opened. The closing mechanism can often become worn, especially if the door is an area where there is a lot of foot traffic and it’s constantly opened and closed. If your door is not closing after it has opened, this needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency.
- Another area that can get worn or damaged over time are the seals around each fire door. Fire doors should have intumescent seals around the frame which expand in the event of a fire and create a tighter fit, preventing heat and smoke escaping.
- When fire safety officers audit sites, one of the most common faults they find is in the gapping between the door and its frame. This should be less than 3 mm, about the width of a pound coin. If it’s more, you may want to consider replacing the door.
- Over time, hinges can become broken or screws loosened. In some cases, the door may have been incorrectly installed and the wrong hinges used.
- Accidents happen and occasionally fire doors get damaged, make sure the surface of the door itself is intact. If applicable, check the glass, this can crack.
- Ensure you have a schedule of regular inspections by competent, qualified professionals who know what to look for.
Why You Should Report Damaged Fire Doors
Whether you’re a fire safety officer, a manager or an employee, it’s very important that you notify the appropriate person if you spot a fire door is damaged in any way, even if it looks minor. You should not leave it to someone else – any delay in repairing the problem could have catastrophic results for the people in the premises. It is important all personnel onsite know that the business will welcome these reports and that health and safety is the responsibility of all!
Until next time… stay safe