Council and social housing
What is your responsibility?
- Social Landlords (be they Local Authorities or Housing Associations) have a responsibility under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to ensure that their properties and tenants are safe. The “responsible person” has a legal responsibility under the FSO and can be criminally prosecuted if they do not fulfil their duties. The responsibility extends to the requirement for a fire risk assessment in all non-domestic buildings, including the common parts of flats and houses of multiple occupation.
- The state of Fire Doors falls within this and is given specific reference in the FSO. Whilst this legislation has been in place for a number of years, we continue to hear from Landlords who do not understand their responsibilities and tenants who are concerned about their fire doors.
- In 2015, 58% of all fire door fines (£454,786) were issued to landlords of HMOs in the UK.
Why is a Fire Door Important?
- A fire door ensures that should a fire break out, it can be contained in a “compartment”. This keeps the fire and smoke trapped for a defined period, allowing time for people to get out and make the fire easier to tackle.
- It will not fulfil this function if damaged or propped open.
How to identify a fire door
- Signs that might indicate a fire door include things like a blue ‘Fire Door’ or ‘Keep Closed’ sign, door closers, intumescent or smoke seals around the edge of the door or the frame.
- In blocks of flats, the external door to a flat invariably should be a Fire Door, this protects the common areas from spread of flame and smoke. Other locations will depend on the risk assessment and fire plan of the buildings, internal doors could well be fire doors depending on the size of the apartment and distance from the flat entrance door. You can find out more in Approved Document B Volumes 1 (for houses) and 2 Part B (for flats) of the building Regulations.
- All fire doors are fire rated. Some are FD30 (providing 30 minute protection), FD60 (60 minute protection) or higher. There is usually a certification mark (a label or plug) on top of the door if it is a Fire Door – you can find out more in the Best Practice Guide published by the BWF Fire Door Alliance.
How to inspect and maintain a fire door
- Fire doors should be checked regularly, and the more they’re used the more frequently they should be checked.
- Anyone can spot a dodgy fire door (do the 5 Step Check today). But if you have legal responsibility for fire safety, call in a professional.
- Create a fire door maintenance checklist and schedule, and check all doors in your building.
- Only ever replace damaged components with like-for-like. Check the fire certificate. A trained person should be responsible for this maintenance work.
Tips for building users
- Make sure you check that fire doors are fit for purpose – this 5 Step Fire Door Check will help you in your assessment.
- Don’t wedge a fire door open and, in particular, keep fire doors closed at night.
- Seen a dodgy fire door? Report it to your landlord straight away.
- Refer your landlord to the advice on this website.
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 this 5 Step Fire Door Check.
- If in doubt bring in a professional to carry out a survey.
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 Fire Door Alliance 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 (e.g. fire certificate or label).
- It’s not just the door itself that matters. The frame and ironmongery are 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.
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.