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Fire Door Safety Week 2020: highlighting the importance of regular inspections

Fire Door Safety Week takes place every September, with this year’s event running from the 20th to the 26th. The campaign raises awareness of the importance of fire doors for saving lives and protecting property.

A key aspect of fire door safety is inspection. A 2019 study from the Fire Door Inspection Scheme revealed that a shocking 76% of fire doors were not fit for purpose in the UK (either because they were installed incorrectly or poorly maintained). This suggests that increased education about fire door safety could reduce fire risks and save lives.

A fire door in action

Many of our customers use PlanRadar’s building inspection features to verify whether fire doors are being maintained correctly, and we wholeheartedly support the work of Fire Door Safety Week.

Here is everything that you need to know about fire doors and fire door safety inspections.

What is a fire door?

A fire door is a special kind of door that is designed to withstand fires. They come with features that can slow down the spread of fires while buying occupants more time to escape.

Fire doors are made from a combination of solid timber, aluminium, steel and gypsum. They usually come with a silicone-based sealant that is fire resistant, and an intumescent strip on the base of the door which will expand when exposed to heat (and prevent the spread of smoke). Some fire doors have windows made from special kinds of glass which have a higher level of heat resistance.

Designers should locate fire doors in key locations around buildings to prevent the spread of fire. There are several grades of fire doors that are designed to be resistant for longer. For example, FD30 doors offer 30 minutes of resistance, FD60 doors offer 60 minutes resistance, and so on.

What is a fire door inspection?

A fire door inspection involves a series of checks to each door to ensure that it meets standards and is installed correctly. As designers and contractors often install fire doors in busy areas such as communal spaces or corridors, they are prone to damage through overuse or incorrect use (such as wedging them open).

A fire door inspector will check for the following kinds of things:

  • Certification: Is the door actually a fire door and does it meet national standards?
  • Incorrect use: Have tenants or building users wedged the door open?
  • Visible damage: Has frequent use or bumping led to damages in the door frame, handle or lock mechanism?
  • Closing: Does the door close correctly, or does the lock mechanism rattle?
  • Gaps: How wide are the gaps between the door and the door frame (max 4mm at top and sides, max 10mm from the floor)
  • Sealant: If the door design includes sealant, is it correctly applied?

 

Fire safety assessments: 5 steps for fire safety

Who is responsible for inspecting fire doors?

This depends on who the responsible person in a building is. A responsible person is:

  • In residential properties, it may be the owner, property developer or a housing association.
  • For commercial properties, it could be the employer, the owner, or a property management company.
  • In schools, hospitals or care homes it could be the management company, facility manager, or owner.

A responsible person must be chosen to take responsibility for a variety of health and safety issues including fire door inspection. This is an important role – if this person fails in their duties, they are likely to face prosecution.

When it comes to inspecting the fire doors themselves, companies may choose to use the services of a fire door inspection company – you outsource the inspection entirely to a third party. Or in smaller facilities, it may be possible for the facilities manager to conduct their own inspections. You will need to complete a fire door inspection training course to do this.

How often must you do fire door inspections?

It may seem surprising but there are currently no minimum legal requirements for the frequency of fire door inspections. However, the law makes it clear that fire-resistant doors must be adequately maintained. In general, it is best practice to:

  • Inspect automatic release doors weekly (these doors close whenever the fire alarm activates)
  • Examine regularly used doors in key communal areas every three months
  • Inspect all other fire doors every six months
  • In new builds, more frequent checks are advisable in the first year of use due to structural changes that may occur as the building settles

 

Learn more: Fire protection strategies for new builds

Fire door safety week: an opportunity to reexamine processes

PlanRadar’s building inspection tools are used by facilities managers and fire safety specialists to conduct fire door inspections every day. The application allows you to view a building map of where all your fire doors are from your smartphone. A fire door inspector can then use this map to locate the fire doors and complete the inspection process, noting any damage or problems with the doors and collecting evidence (including photos, videos and written or voice notes). Flexible forms also mean that inspectors collect the same information every time, ensuring that they checked every important element. After completing their inspection, they can generate a report and store this securely in the cloud.

Inspection solutions like PlanRadar mean that you can seamlessly and efficiently conduct fire door inspections, identify and rectify problems fast, and show that you have performed due diligence when it comes to fire safety inspections.

Fire Door Safety Week reminds us all just how important regular maintenance can be. To learn how you can use PlanRadar to support your fire door safety inspections, begin your 30-day trial today.

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