Friday, 30 August 2013

FM services come under scrutiny for fire door safety

Facilities managers and building owners are likely to see a renewed scrutiny on fire door compliance this autumn due to a new programme to improve the guidance to business and focus on legal enforcement by fire officers.

The Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) has strongly welcomed the recent announcement by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to push enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, commonly known as the Fire Safety Order or RRO.

FDIS is also applauding the decision by CFOA to promote the use and acceptance of recognised professional certification and accreditation for commercial fire risk assessors, as well as creating an accredited framework of competence for fire safety officers nationally.

Neil Ashdown, manager of FDIS, says: 
“A fundamental part of consultants’ and fire officers’ knowledge must be about the correct specification, installation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors. Fire doors, and all the components that must go with them, are a critical aspect of passive fire protection in all commercial and public buildings.

“This knowledge is what is provided through the FDIS Diploma in fire doors and through our scheme – the first in Europe – to create a register of independently assessed and certificated fire door inspectors who can work alongside facilities managers, landlords, local authorities and fire services to protect lives and property.”

The first fully qualified and certificated fire door inspectors have now started work around the country, and this month FDIS is launching its ‘Find An Inspector’ service for building owners and facilities managers:  FDIS inspectors will help those with legal responsibilities for fire safety to ensure the safe functioning of all their fire doors, including providing  a professional service for building owners who require a competent and detailed survey and report on the condition and function of the fire doors on their premises.

The CFOA announcement was made in response to the Government’s ‘Focus on Enforcement’ review which identified problems with the inconsistency of approach and advice to the business community about the RRO by many fire officers. Similar problems have also been highlighted to Neil Ashdown by a fire safety training officer who is currently doing the FDIS Diploma and who confirms that consistency of advice and of enforcement is a big problem in the fire service.
“I have heard that there is a large disparity between fire authorities’ and individual officers’ attitudes, which many fire safety training officers are trying to address,” says Neil. “Unfortunately, knowledge about fire doors is just as patchy among fire service officers as it is among building owners. Only those who have had fire safety training will have any idea about fire doors. And even then, the legal side, current standards, maintenance of fire doors and other factors may be poorly understood.”

FDIS is writing to the chief fire officer in every fire authority to raise their awareness of the Diploma in fire doors and the relevant requirements under the RRO.           


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