Thousands of fire doors across the UK are ‘ill-fitting, propped open or damaged’ putting lives at risk, according to the organisers of the annual fire door safety awareness week.
Fire Door Safety Week, which starts today, aims to stamp out bad practice and raise awareness of the important role that fire doors play.
Organisers the British Woodworking Federation is urging landlords and tenants to familiarise themselves with the fire safety system of their building.
Research carried out by the organisation and released today to mark the launch, found that almost three quarters (72%) of flat tenants would ignore guidance to ‘stay put’ if there was a fire in their building and their particular flat was not affected by fire or smoke.
When residents were asked why they would not follow the stay put advice, 39% said they do not have confidence in their building’s ability to stop the spread of smoke and fire, 28% said they do not understand why the “stay put” advice is in place and 61% stated they would rather take matters into their own hands.
Lack of confidence
Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week said: “Our research reveals tenants’ widespread lack of confidence and knowledge in the current “stay put” or fire safety measures of their building .
“Seeds of doubt have been sown and tenants no longer feel able to trust the systems in place. They would rather risk their own lives, and the lives of others by trying to get out of a burning building than seek refuge in their flats.
“We need to restore the general public’s confidence in fire safety policies by rooting out fire doors that are ill-fitted, damaged or poorly maintained and ensuring that all buildings are equipped with fire doors that are fit for purpose.
“In addition, occupants must be provided with clear guidance about the fire safety plan and fire safety measures in their building so that they can report any concerns about issues such as damaged or wedged open fire doors and get prepared so that, in the event of a fire, they can take appropriate action.”
The organisation offers advice to landlords to help them ensure their homes are safe.
Practical tips for landlords
- If you have had a Fire Risk Assessment, make sure doors were covered and the assessor is knowledgeable in this area
- When you do your regular check, identify and include the fire doors, do the five step fire door safety check.
- If in doubt bring in a professional to carry out a survey – find them on the fire door inspection scheme website at fdis.co.uk
How to buy good quality fire doors
- You’ll find lots of advice on specifying and buying high quality, third-party certificated fire doors and doorsets from the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme knowledge centre.
- Always use a reputable and competent supplier – many people claim to make fire doors, but only some have got a properly tested product that is proved to work in a fire.
- Ask whether the product has been fire tested and demand to see the documentation that proves it (eg fire certificate or label).
- It’s not just the door itself that matters. The frame and ironmongery is just as important – they all work together. Only buy exact compatible hardware and components.
- Always ask for installation instructions and follow them to the letter.
- Saving a few quid on fire doors isn’t worth it. Consider the cost of damage and loss of life if a fire breaks out. Stick to the specification at all times.
Requirements to consider when specifying fire doors
- All rooms should have fire doors which have a self-closing mechanism.
- All fire doors must be durable and combine fire protection with accessibility.
How to install a fire door properly
- Fire doors are not ordinary doors. They’re a carefully engineered fire safety device. They must be fitted correctly by a competent installer – if you employ people who install fire doors, make sure they know what they’re doing.
- Use technical checklist here to check the installation
The Fire Door Safety Week website includes a free toolkit of resources to help landlords and their tenants with fire door safety advice. For more information click here.
Fire Door Safety Week is now in its 6th year, reached over 19 million people in 2017, delivering messages on the importance of fire doors in saving lives and protecting property, and landlords’ legal responsibilities for managing fire door safety.
Find out more:
Fire safety is one of the top searches on the RLA website and the association has pulled together all its fire safety guides and interactive resources for PRS landlords to create a comprehensive fire safety hub within its webpages.
The new and updated fire safety advice pages for residential landlords can be found here.
In addition to the resources on the website, the RLA is now offering online and classroom fire safety training courses, with Complete Fire Safety courses running in London, Manchester and Leeds next month.