Stop, Think and Act: The Risk of an Open Fire Door

Would you be concerned if your building or a building you were in was fitted with fire doors without a frame or without the door itself? You would rightfully be concerned that the building was not fire safe and your protection had been compromised due to the missing part, but would you be as concerned if you saw a fire door wedged open?

As we all know, a fire door is a safety device that fulfils an integral role in the event of a fire, a safety device that can and does save lives. The door itself, the frame, the hinges, the locks and the seals all work together to form a protective barrier against fire and smoke. But what happens if we remove one of these key components? The fire door no longer works, it is no longer able to serve its purpose.  This same rule applies to a fire door that is wedged open.

A fire door, in the event of a fire, will only work if the door is closed.

Despite the danger, fire doors are often wedged open, without a moment’s thought. It can certainly be tempting to wedge open fire doors, especially in busy areas or to help airflow during hot weather. Perhaps you are just popping out via the fire exit for your lunch break, wedging the door open to bring in your shopping, or trying to get a through breeze to cool the air, however well intentioned, wedging open fire doors puts people and property at risk.

If it is necessary to prop or wedge open a fire door for the purpose of moving equipment or materials for a short duration; the prop or wedge must immediately be removed on completion of the task in hand; an open fire door must never be left unattended.

The majority of fire doors, when installed and used properly, will hold back a fire for 30 minutes or more*, by which time the Fire & Rescue service would aim to be on site. Wedging open fire doors can, and has, caused a chimney effect, which causes fire to spread rapidly, destroying entire buildings and decreasing the time people have to evacuate safely.

In the event of a fire, if it was found that a fire door was wedged open, it could have serious legal implications including fines, and reduce the likelihood of a successful insurance claim to cover the loss of possessions or damages to property.

Next time you see a fire door wedged open; stop, think and act. Close the door.

*To identify the rating of your fire door, please check the labels

Please note; some fire doors are fitted with automatic hold open device that are able to be kept open as they close automatically in the event of a fire