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Survey reveals fire door knowledge gaps

02 November 2022

DO YOU know how many fire doors your business has? Rather shockingly, according to a 2022 survey by Peninsula, one-quarter of businesses don’t actually know.

It’s Fire Door Safety Week, which provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to have fire doors high on their safety agenda.

Gavin Scarr Hall, health & safety director at Peninsula, says: “Fire doors are your first line of defence so it’s worrying to see that so many organisations don’t even know how many fire doors they have within their premises. Without this starting point, it’s nigh on impossible to be able to carry out sufficient and regular checks to ensure they are all functioning correctly.

“Fire doors save lives and are a vital part of construction, as a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises, and public buildings.

“When they don’t function properly though, it’s difficult to stop the spread should a fire break out, and ultimately, lives are in danger.

“And worryingly, the number of fire doors that are not up to scratch is estimated to be around 85% across the UK.

“Having fire doors in place might be legally required in certain buildings, but it’s ultimately down to the building owners and employers to take responsibility to ensure their employees and building users are safe under the Fire Safety Order (FSO). The order also states that a nominated “responsible person” must be instated who will be held responsible if they do not fulfil their duties.”

In a survey of councils and NHS Trusts, carried out by Peninsula, it was found that the main reasons their fire doors fail inspection are:

  • Damage to intumescent strip (most common)
  • Impact damage
  • Issues with gaps and door closers
  • Readjusting the hang of the doors

Gavin Scarr Hall warns that these issues, although common, can all contribute to a fire door not functioning effectively and should be resolved as soon as possible. 

He says, “A fire door works by having intumescent strips that activate and expand when exposed to heat. This enables a barrier to stop the spread of flames and smoke, and provide a means of escape, usually for either 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the type of door. Therefore, it’s crucial that the gaps between the door and the frame always sit between 2mm-4mm to ensure the strips can do their job.

“Impact damage and wear and tear can knock the alignment of the door, making it faulty, so it’s crucial that frequent checks are carried out.

“Best practice suggests every that fire doors should be checked every six months by a professional, but busier buildings should aim for quarterly checks. 

“I would also recommend employers to carry out their own quick five-minute, five-step checks on a weekly basis, asking:

  • Is the door missing an official certification label?
  • Is the space around the door bigger than the width of a pound coin?
  • Is the seal around the door faulty or damaged?
  • Are any of the hinges loose or missing screws?
  • Is the door unable to close firmly on to the latch without sticking to the floor or frame?

“If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then employers will need to instruct a licensed profession to conduct an immediate PAS79 Fire Risk Assessment to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace.”