Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ensuring fire door safety in the workplace

Martin Smith, product manager
at IronmongeryDirect

There were over 22,000 fires recorded to have taken place in non-residential buildings between 2013 and 2014, with a large proportion of these occurring in the workplace. To ensure employees are safe, business owners have a duty to ensure that they are complying with fire safety laws, and in particular that fire doors are properly installed and maintained to comply with regulations. 

As part of Fire Door Safety Week (14-20 September), Martin Smith, product manager at IronmongeryDirect, discusses new research on fire door safety in the workplace and how to ensure that a fire door is correctly installed and maintained to deliver the best safety for staff.

Failure to implement a proper fire safety plan and comply with fire safety rules and regulations not only puts people’s lives at risk, but can lead to prosecution and fines for the people responsible for the premises, so it’s important to get it right.

Door closers must be completely
free from any damage and
should not be leaking
When it comes to fire safety rules, it is a legal requirement that all members of staff receive proper fire safety training so that they know what to do in the event of a fire, and this includes how to use a fire door correctly and safely. However, a new survey of 1,000 UK employees, conducted by IronmongeryDirect, found that 28% of respondents didn’t actually know that it was illegal to prop open a fire door without a specially designed device approved by the fire authority. 

If a fire was to occur whilst a fire door was being propped open by something such as a door-stop, then this would disable the door from performing its primary function. There are, however, hold open devices such as those by Dorgard, which enable a fire door to be kept open legally and are ideal for high traffic areas such as offices. On activation of the fire alarm, the hold open device will release the door so that it can close and stop the spread of fire.

The study also revealed that 53% of employees would not know how to spot a dodgy fire door. Fire doors are important safety features of any public building and so it’s vital that they provide the highest level of protection – but they can only do this if they are properly installed and maintained. To spot whether a fire door is fully operational and therefore compliant and legal, there are a number of components that need to checked - from intumescent seals to hinges, locks, latches and door closers.

Dorguard hold open device
All fire door components should adhere to the required standards to ensure that they are compliant with fire regulations. For example, fire doors should have a minimum of three hinges and these should all be fitted with the correct sized screws. They should be free of metal fragments and oil leakages as these could be signs of wear and damage. The hinge should also allow the door closer to shut the door, overcoming the resistance of a latch or seal. Hinges such as the Twin Ball Bearing Fire Door Hinge are ideal for use on fire doors as they meet all of the required standards for a high quality fire door hinge. This hinge is CE marked, grade 13 and manufactured from stainless steel.

When it comes to door closers, these must be completely free from any damage and should not be leaking, so it’s important to look out for this when carrying out maintenance checks. To comply with requirements, it is recommended that a minimum of power size three should be used and the closer must be CE marked. The Light Duty Door Closer, in particular, meets both of these standards and therefore is a highly recommended product.

Intumescent seals are used to seal any gaps around the perimeter of the fire door as they can expand up to ten times their original size during a fire, to stop any smoke from escaping. It's important to ensure the appropriate intumescent seals are used and are free from damage or breakage, and the glazing beads should be well attached and also free from damage.

The purpose of a lock or latch is to help to ensure a door remains closed within its frame without rattling. It should be CE marked and have the correct intumescent sleeve fitted to it to retain the doors integrity.

Business owners have a duty to ensure that their staff members are safe but without fully functional fire doors and adequate fire safety training, employees are being put in danger. Fire doors are a vital part of a building’s fire safety and ultimately can save lives and this is why it is important that tradespeople, where possible, can offer advice on how to spot a dodgy fire door.

In light of the research, IronmongeryDirect has launched a new fire door safety checklist to make it easier for people to spot a dodgy fire door and check that it is in full working order. The handy checklist covers all of the essential components that are required to make a fire door fully operational and can easily be taken on the job by tradespeople who have been tasked with installing or maintaining a fire door.

To download the fire door safety checklist, please visit www.IronmongeryDirect.co.uk/fire-door

IronmongeryDirect
Scimitar Park
Basildon
Essex
SS13 1ND
W: www.IronmongeryDirect.co.uk
T: 0808 168 28 28
E: sales@IronmongeryDirect.co.uk


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