The Importance of Fire Doors
As Fire Door Safety Week approaches in September, we’ve spoken to Hannah Mansell at the British Woodworking Federation, to break down why understanding fire door requirements are so important!
For a long time, the importance of fire doors has been severely overlooked. Whether it has been done as a method of saving money or a general lack of understanding about fire doors and their components, or even down to the convenience of wedging a fire door open for the ease of passage, there is no doubt that this should be a bigger concern than it has been, as lives continue to be placed at risk.
Why are Fire Doors important?
Fire doors are the first line of defence in the event of a fire, as they play a crucial role in delaying the easy movement of smoke and fire. This helps to reduce the damage caused, by helping to stop the fire from spreading quickly, whilst also protecting the crucial means of escape out of a building or protecting occupants who may not be able, for example in a building where you have a ‘stay put’ fire plan. This means that the complexity of the building design or the high number of occupants may not enable a safe or quick evacuation, so the occupants in the building are required to stay put until the emergency services can bring the fire under control.
This is especially important in a building where the occupants may have additional mobility or cognitive needs.
Fire doors in corridors and stairwells are also crucial to protect Firefighters who need to be able to move around the building as easily as possible. Fire doors fitted with perimeter smoke seals help to reduce the levels of smoke by containing it (provided the fire was not started and/or has not spread to the stairwells and corridors).
Raising Fire Door Awareness
In the past 1two years, awareness about fire doors has grown considerably in the tragic aftermath of Grenfell in which fire doors were raised as an area of concern. As such, we strongly recommend that property managers, landlord, and tenants, as well as homeowners of flats, check their fire doors in all the following domestic locations:
- Doors leading to stairwells
- All corridors
- Front door into the flat
- Internal doors of a flat (dependent on the layout of the flat)
- Internal bedroom doors, if the property has multiple occupancies (meaning that tenants are living separately to one another)
- Bin storage and cupboards containing mains electricity services will also require a fire door as they are at a heightened risk of combustion
Never assume that a Fire Door is a Certified Fire Door
Just because a door looks like a fire door, has the signage of a fire door and screams fire door, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fit for purpose.
Door markings, as well as traceability to third-party certification, are a good sign that a fire door is what it says it is. They’re also a good sign that the door has been tested and the manufacturer is audited to ensure consistency of specification. Therefore, if there aren’t any, the door has no traceability of manufacturer or any kind of testing. This is particularly common in older properties, and it is important to be cautious of the potential risk of keeping these doors.
You want to remember, however, that it isn’t just the fire door that needs to function correctly. It is equally important that all the necessary components are appropriate. These components need to work hand in hand with each other:
- Door leaf
- Frame and lining
- Intumescent Seals
- Smoke Seals (if required)
- Latch or lock
- Door closer (if required)
- Signage (if required)
- Other types of ironmongery
- Fire door glazing systems (if the door is to be glazed)
- Frame/wall sealing
- Threshold seals
It is also important to remember that a fire door is only able to do its job properly if it is closed. Therefore, if it has been wedged open for the convenience of free movement, it will be completely useless in the event of a fire.
The Dangers of Bad Fire Doors
Having bad fire doors that fail to meet strict criteria first and foremost put innocent lives at risk. Not only that, but bad fire doors could also affect the protection you receive on your insurance.
Most of the leading insurance companies seek advice from the RISC Authority; a group of experts into fire risk, and in some cases if you have not ensured that sufficient levels of fire safety and protection (including fire doors) within your building, with the appropriate third-party certification and evidence that they have been installed by an approved specialist, you may find that you struggle to make a claim in the event of fire.
If you are a building owner or landlord with formal responsibility for maintaining fire safety in a building you could be prosecuted under the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) and face a hefty jail sentence or fine.
How will purchasing Fire Doors from Howarth Timber help?
Howarth Timber & Building Supplies has been a member of the BWF CERTIFIRE Scheme as a BWF Approved Fire Door Centre since its creation eight years ago. This means that:
1. You will receive all the appropriate third-party certification to prove traceability
The fire doors we supply feature 100% CERTIFIRE approved components and traceability marks so that every tiny detail relating to the door has been fully checked. This is crucial, as one tiny thing wrong can potentially risk lives during a fire. What might seem like a minute gap that is unseen might seem trivial, however that could be the precise point where smoke leaks through.
2. Our fire doors and related products come with full installation guides to ensure that the door is fitted correctly.
Having the correct fire door with all the appropriate traceable components doesn’t guarantee that a door will perform as expected. Fire doors are a lot more complex than standard doors as there are a lot more components that have a crucial role to play in protecting against fire, and therefore installation is a much bigger task.
A poorly installed door will break the certification and occupants/tenants will be placed at high risk in the event of a fire.
All BWF-Certifire doors are supplied with installation instructions and contact details of the manufacturer to ensure that installation can be carried out in accordance with the specific product.
However, if you are still concerned about a door being installed properly:
3. All staff who are directly involved in the sale of fire doors are required to take part in BWF training, with refresher training taking place every two years.
Therefore, if you are unsure about any part of the installation process, come into your nearest branch and we will offer all the help and advice that you need.
Want to get involved in Fire Door Safety Week? Visit their website to find out how.
Kat Musselwhite – HT Blogger in collaboration with BWF