Friday, 26 October 2012

Hotel fire doors – yet more evidence of our safety in jeopardy

On the evening of Monday 22 October, BBC One Inside Out broadcast a shocking new exposé into the state of hotel fire doors and its impact on fire safety in the South West. The same day, the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) published the results of its own national survey into the five most common defects in hotel fire doors.

The Inside Out programme was a follow up to its report on the fatal fire at the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay in 2007 and undercover filming in 14 hotels in the region. Read the original report on the BBC website.
 Five years since its initial investigations, Inside Out proved that serious fire safety issues are still being seen in hotels. 
The programme featured an interview with one of the guests trapped in a Bideford hotel fire last year as well as some interesting developments at the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay, star of Channel 4’s ‘The Hotel’
You can view the programme on BBC iPlayer for the next few days before it expires.
According to the latest fire statistics from DCLG, there were 595 fires in hotels in Great Britain in 2010/11. While the number of fires in hotels, guest houses and hostels has decreased since the introduction and increasing enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, known as the RRO, awareness of these regulations is still very patchy.

Neil Ashdown, general manager of the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, said:

“It is deeply shocking that lessons are still not being learned in the hotel industry about the critical importance of fire doors in providing protection to life and property.
No intumescent seal

“When we stay in hotels we are in unfamiliar surroundings, much more easily disorientated and less aware of escape routes than in many other buildings that we typically occupy such as a home or office. In this environment people and escape routes require greater protection, not less, and effective fire doors are probably the single most important element in giving people enough time to safely evacuate a hotel.

“I did my own survey of about 20 local hotels earlier this year and saw for myself how low awareness was of the importance of fire door maintenance. Many hotel owners are frightened by how expensive they think maintenance will be. In reality, the moderate cost of a professional fire door inspection and maintenance regime is far outweighed by the benefits of ensuring safe premises. It also makes financial sense, particularly in a recession, to ensure business continuity. If a bedroom, full corridor of rooms or a function room is out of action, then there is a cost implication to the hotel.”

Fire Door propped open
Neil Ashdown also points to the worrying results of the national survey by FDIS looking at fire doors in hotels used during last year’s Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green party conferences. The premises included big national chains as well as smaller hotels.

Experienced fire door professionals and safety experts secretly checked a group of 17 hotels in Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham and Manchester. The FDIS researchers found problems in almost every one.

The 5 most common problems spotted in these hotels were:

• Ill-fitting doors in frames - 59% (10 hotels)
• Damaged fire doors - 47% (8 hotels)
• Fire doors propped open - 47% (8 hotels)
• Incorrectly fitted fire and/or smoke seals- 35% (6 hotels)
• Poor condition of fire and/or smoke seals - 35% (6 hotels)

 This research supported the decision by the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers to launch the Fire Door Inspection Scheme earlier this year and to create the Diploma in Fire Doors, the first such qualification for hotel, office and other facilities managers, building maintenance and safety professionals.

Ill fitting Fire Doors
As readers will know, an effective fire door consists of much more than the door itself. A fire door is an engineered safety device that requires all of its components to fulfil their roles for the door to achieve its function. This includes the door frame, door closers, hinges and other ironmongery, glazed vision panels, signage and fire and smoke seals.

Picking up on this last point, John Fletcher, manager of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme, says:

“The point about fire and smoke seals is incredibly important and very topical at the moment. We are hearing of a lot of misinformation currently circulating among hotel owners that a recent Government determination on this issue lets them off the hook when it comes to replacing defective fire doors. This is very worrying. Such seals play a vital role in ensuring the integrity of a fire door set and creating effective compartmentation in a building so people have more time to escape in the event of a fire.
Damaged Fire Doors
“The BWF view and advice remains unchanged. We believe that it is always advisable to fit fire and smoke seals to fire doors, based not only on the position set out in Approved Document B of the Building Regulations but also on the evidence of 15 years of regular testing of our members' fire doors within the BWF CERTIFIRE Fire Door Scheme.”

While similar schemes are well established in the USA, the UK’s Fire Door Inspection Scheme is the first in Europe and is designed to transform people’s knowledge and understanding about the critical purpose and function of fire doors. It aims to help improve fire safety management, protect property and ultimately save lives through creating a new pool of expertise and competence to help those with legal responsibilities under the RRO and equivalent legislation. 
Poorly glazed aperture
 FDIS provides a vital new resource to help the ‘Responsible Person’ complete fire risk assessments for the premises they manage. It also raises awareness of defective fire doors and the potentially tragic consequences of leaving these unchecked.

* Read more current and archived articles on our dedicated website *

Low Cost and Free Publicity - Your company can easily benefit from some publicity like this in return for a voluntary contribution towards our costs or receive it absolutely free of charge if you advertise (see below).

We post articles up to twice a day and never delete them - we only archive them each year so that they continue to remain visible to search engines.

To have your story published - just send us your news item, logo and image(s) and we will review the material, make any necessary changes to the wording / wordcount and then advise you when it will be published.

If you take display advertising or product and literature features in our printed and online publications, you will qualify for regular free postings on this blog while you continue to advertise with us.

For details on features and advertising rates please contact us or visit our website.

No comments: