Monday, 30 September 2013

Fire door experts highlight need for freshers fire safety guidance

Freshers should receive mandatory fire safety guidance before moving into halls of residence and shared accommodation, fire door experts have advised. 

In a joint statement to all university and higher education estates and facilities managers and student accommodation offices, the British Woodworking Federation, BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme and Fire Door Inspection Scheme are using the success of the recent Fire Door Safety Week as the hook to remind them to carry out more checks of their buildings’ fire doors and to ensure fire door safety is drilled into new students who may be sharing accommodation for the first time.

John Fletcher, BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme manager, says:
“Moving into halls of residence or private accommodation for university is an exciting time and gives young people real independence. However, with this freedom comes responsibility and one critical area of responsibility is fire safety.

“Every year, 350 18-24 year olds are injured in accidental house fires started by cigarettes, smoking materials and cooking. In fact half of these fires occur because of cooking.

“One of the key elements of fire prevention is fire doors. If you live in halls of residence you will have fire doors in place to prevent fire from spreading. In order for this to work, fire doors must be kept shut at all times and never wedged or held open by a fire extinguisher or other heavy object. This also applies to houses rented by a group of three or more students. Make sure your landlord has installed fire doors and keeps them well maintained.”

The Fire Door Safety Week team has produced a free poster for all university accommodation teams to use to promote greater awareness of fire door safety. It is available to download at:

Some universities and colleges already require students to complete questionnaires after watching an induction fire safety video in order to register for halls. Others have produced videos with their local fire and rescue service to highlight the common fire risks in student accommodation with tips on how they can be avoided.

Theodore Firedoor, the campaigner for raising awareness of dodgy fire doors, recently interviewed Rod Harrison, Fire Safety Officer at Loughborough University, about the issues that arise in student accommodation and how they are overcome.

Theodore Firedoor encourages anyone who spots a dodgy fire door to take a picture and send it via his Facebook page, Twitter @Theodore_Fire or email
Fire Door Safety Week was established to promote advice to building owners and their property management teams on how to install, check and maintain fire doors. This includes free CPD training and fact cards from BWF-CERTIFIRE. They are available to download here:

The final advice from Fire Door Safety Week is for parents. 
John Fletcher says:
“When you get your son or daughter settled into their new university accommodation, take a quick look at the fire doors and always report any that don’t look right. Don’t be embarrassed to make a fuss. The law is on your side.  This is not about over-protective parenting – it’s something we should do in every building we use anyway, and it’s a legal responsibility to have fully functioning fire doors.”

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