Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Spare a Thought for your Doors, they do much more than you’d think

Simon Osborne, commercial leader of Allegion UK, urges facilities and site managers of school estates to routinely check doors for compliance and maintenance.

Schools are never too far away from the headlines in the UK. Whether it is not having enough teachers for pupils, inner city school problems, a failing national system or otherwise, you can expect to see a headline almost every week in the papers regarding our education institutions.

When it comes to the facilities management side of education, there is often very little mention. Yet, it is one of the most important aspects, especially in a building filled with vulnerable children.

Fire safety is a particular area that needs addressed. According to the Great Britain Fire Statistics, from 2003/04 to 2013/14, there were more than 4,000 fires in schools, resulting in 129 casualties. 

In 2016, a major incident included the Selsey Academy of West Sussex, which was almost completely destroyed; while Gower College of Swansea also suffered a blaze, but was eventually praised by the fire department for having working fire doors that stopped a classroom fire from spreading further.

It is inevitable that children will leave fire doors open or unlatched, so the best advice is to pre-empt this situation. Use latchbolt monitors or electromagnet door closers linked to the fire alarm systems and you give yourself greater control. 

The former allows you to see any fire doors that have been left ajar, while the latter holds open heavy fire doors legally. Both are greatly beneficial for any high-traffic areas.

Never underestimate using a routine checklist, either. Advancing technology and hardware means more checks are required, while daily use will no doubt cause wear and tear. 

Check for fluid viscosity, test air pressure scenarios, gaps and latching issues, and it can all be the difference between having a compliant fire door and one that is illegal and dangerous.

Access control should be given due consideration too. Recent high-profile cases highlight significant breaches, some of which have ended in tragedy. 

This means it is more important than ever that facilities managers and site managers install door hardware that can control and monitor entrances for any irregular activity.

While we’re still far away from invoking the control that many U.S. schools have, we should follow their lead in pre-empting and avoiding situations as best as possible.


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