Schools, universities and colleges
What is your responsibility?
What is your responsibility
- Educational establishments are often a harsh environment for doors, with high footfall meaning constant use.
- Beyond the educational facilities there are often residential considerations (e.g. halls of residence) that fall within the remit of the education provider.
- Schools, universities and colleges have a responsibility under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to ensure that their students and staff 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.
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.
- 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 – see the 5 Step Check to see how. But if you have legal responsibility for fire safety, call in a professional fire door inspector to provide guidance.
- 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 – see the 5 Step Fire Door Check.
- Never wedge a fire door open. In Halls of Residence (and other forms of sleeping accommodation) it’s crucial to ensure that the door is closed at night.
- Seen a dodgy fire door? Report it to the School Head, College Dean or University maintenance department straight away.
- Refer them to the advice on this website.
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 checks, 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. a 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.
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.