Schools, universities and colleges
What is your responsibility
- Educational establishments are often a harsh environment for doors, with high flow and little sympathy!
- Beyond the educational facilities there are often residential considerations (e.g. halls of residence) that fall within the remit of the school, college or university.
- Schools particularly are often a target of arson, it is often cited that a school building burns down in the UK every week – thankfully fatalities are very rare, however the disruption can be immense (and for some children defining).
- Schools, universities and colleges have a responsibility under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to ensure that their students are safe.
- Facilities should have a fire risk assessment and nominate a “responsible person” who has legal responsibility under the FSO and can be criminally prosecuted if they do not fulfil their duties. This covers a requirement upon the Responsible Person to demonstrate that in the event of danger, it must be possible for persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible.
- The state of Fire Doors falls within this responsibility 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, tenants who are concerned about their fire doors, regular prosecutions and sadly deaths that can directly be associated with bad Fire Door management.
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/to be rescued 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 our Best Practice Guide
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.
- For professional advice on meeting your responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order, always use a FDIS Certificated Inspector. You can find your local inspector here.
- Create a 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, do this 5 Step Fire Door Check.
- Don’t wedge it open and, in particular, keep fire doors closed at night.
- Seen a dodgy fire door? Report it to your landlord straight away.
- Refer them to the advice on this website.
- You can also post photos or film of dodgy fire doors onto Theodore Firedoor’s Facebook page.
Tips for building owners/managers
- 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 I doubt bring in a professional to carry out a survey – www.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 our simple technical checklist to check the installation