Fire door inspections should be part of your ongoing system as fire will exploit any chink of weakness. If there is a weakness, a risk exists; your premises are potentially less safe than you and other people think. However, you have a constant responsibility to make sure standards are maintained and keeping the environment of your commercial buildings safe. If an incident occurs you may be putting unsuspecting people at risk, potentially exposing other nearby properties and even potentially rending your insurance policy invalid. If you think about any of those situations you should be concerned; you could face them all!
Your fire safety approach to your passive fire protection should include fire door inspections and maintenance to ensure that all of your fire doors are of a standard and will perform as they are designed to do, if a fire was to start. Your attention to this should be no different from checking and testing the standard and efficiency of any other part of your fire safety protection, say testing alarms or the emergency lighting. Fire doors are in many buildings (not exhaustive); offices, factories, warehouses, schools, residential homes and blocks of flats and apartments; all facing a similar fire risk.
Peninsula Fire Safety Director Jon Limer explained “Through training and experience our fire safety engineers know not to take everything at face value. An ill-fitting or damaged door will not give the safety it is designed to do but may appear fine to the untrained eye. Door use can sometimes be high, often with little thought or respect. Doors get slammed shut or kicked open, even a minor alteration can seriously affect performance.
Our fire door inspectors take a detailed, close look at all fire doors including their frames, as well as the components and door furniture, to make sure they are to and remain at the right specification and appropriately maintained. Is the fire-resistant glass safe, intumescent seals to standard and well maintained? We check the fire door’s condition and ensure that it is in an efficient working order.
Issues are found, frequently. Identifying such threats can have a significant impact on fire safety. A legal requirement exists under article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO/FSO), creating a legal obligation to ensure that fire resisting doors and escape doors are installed correctly and appropriately maintained for them to remain fit for purpose and do their job in an hour of need.
Often referred to as the RRO or FSO, these regulations apply to all buildings other than domestic residences, moved the responsibility from the fire authorities to whoever has day-to-day control of premises; The Responsible Person. The fire authorities however, retain the authority to enforce, prosecute or potentially close buildings if breaches of the regulations are found.
Fire door inspections should be undertaken at least once every six months, although interestingly newly occupied buildings may require more frequent checks during the first year. The regulations are not specific, so where there is high use the doors should be checked more frequently than other doors in the building, potentially monthly or even weekly in certain settings. In January 2020 the Ministry of Housing, communities and local government issued the Annex A document, this gives appropriate guidance on flat entrance doors to building owners (or Responsible Person) indicating their responsibilities further for clarity.
Jon Limer continued “As with many things, there is more to fire safety than meets the eye. It is not a one-off task but a serious ongoing responsibility, underpinning the security of any company or property. Often, once new clients talk and work with us, grasp an understanding of their legal obligations and how to manage their fire safety approach, we become an integral part of their team, building a strong supportive relationship, giving peace of mind and releasing management for other roles.