Monday, 16 September 2013

Theodore Firedoor puts hospital fire doors on the critical list

Shocking video footage by fire door campaigner Theodore Firedoor has been distributed online and via social media, drawing attention to the appalling state of the fire doors in a major city hospital.

The video can be viewed below: 

After attempts to encourage essential maintenance by the hospital’s estates management team, Theodore Firedoor went undercover to film very badly damaged fire doors and bodged attempts at repairs which would seriously compromise the fire performance of the doors.

“The first thing we notice is a distinct lack of maintenance. In particular, the meeting edges of the doors have suffered repeated impact damage. They have clearly been in need of urgent repair for some time,” says Theodore Firedoor.

He points out that the stakes would be especially high in the event of a fire in a major hospital, so the state of the fire doors is absolutely critical:

“Many hospitals have a ‘stay put’ policy as part of their fire strategy, because obviously it’s not practical to evacuate very ill patients or somebody during surgery. That’s why hospitals rely especially on fire doors providing the intended fire separation.

“So here, of all places, these fire doors pose extremely serious safety implications for the people using the building. There are no excuses, this is addressed in the Fire Safety Order and there’s clear guidance for building managers in BS 9999.”

 In a recent example of how serious such risks can be, a fire at Stoke Mandeville Hospital at the end of May caused 53 patients to flee for safety, involved 40 firefighters and resulted in several people being treated for smoke inhalation. Large parts of the building were affected by smoke and water damage.

Theodore Firedoor is a campaign promoted by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) which runs Europe’s only scheme to train, qualify and provide independent certification for fire door professionals and others with responsibility for fire safety in buildings.

There are currently about 300 candidates working through the FDIS Diploma in fire doors, using the online learning system to gain expertise in fire doors and a qualification to prove it. Once qualified, Diploma holders can also go on to apply to become certificated inspectors.

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 hospital estate 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 hospitals and NHS Trusts which require a competent and detailed survey and report on the condition and function of the fire doors on their premises.

Karen Byard, fire officer at Bradford District Care Trust, has completed the FDIS Diploma.

She is responsible for more than 130 buildings which have in the region of 10,000 fire doors. Her role covers a range of responsibilities including fire risk assessments, liaising with the fire service, determining whether fire doors should be repaired or replaced in order to maintain their effectiveness and training staff to ensure that people across the Trust have a basic understanding of fire risks and how they can be minimised. All of this requires not only up-to-date knowledge of legislation, best practice and industry guidance but also a recognised qualification that proves to the contractors, manufacturers, architects and clinical staff she deals with that her knowledge is beyond doubt.

Karen says:
“Most of the buildings in my area have lots of people using them on a daily basis. Many of the users are vulnerable in various ways and then there’s the issue of damage caused by trolleys and empty wheelchairs being used to open fire doors. Added to that there is a lack of awareness amongst some of the people involved in maintenance and repairs about how making changes to fire doors can seriously impact on their ability to compartmentalise fire.”
In common with many trusts, BDCT offers its services to other trusts. Having a fire officer with a recognised qualification demonstrating her competence and knowledge of fire doors gives it added credibility.

Karen continued:
“While I have worked in fire protection in the health sector for several years, achieving the FDIS Diploma has given me additional authority that helps me across all areas of my work and I plan in the future to be assessed to become a Certificated Fire Door Inspector.”

The focus on fire door safety in hospitals and other public buildings is likely to remain top of the public interest agenda over the next few weeks, including the screening of the BBC Inside Out programme last week with its secret filming of hotel fire safety measures, and also the launch this week of the inaugural Fire Door Safety Week (

Episode one in the same seies of videos can be seen on YouTube at this link

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