Monday 17 September 2018

Door closers create safer high-rise homes

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry has placed the spotlight on fire safety measures in high-rise flats and apartments. Understandably, much of the focus has been on the cladding used in the building’s refurbishment. 

However, reports also suggest that there was a failure in compartmentation which contributed towards the spread of fire and smoke within the lobbies, lifts and stairwells. This was attributed to a total absence of door closers on the main entrance doors to some of the flats.

Samuel Heath has seen an increase in demand for Powermatic door closers from local authorities and social landlords seeking to update fire safety measures in high-rise and other properties.

Future improvements will undoubtedly see a greater emphasis being placed on the performance, quality and reliability of products used, which can only be good news for reputable manufacturers and installers of doors and hardware.

Providing safe, secure and comfortable accommodation in the social housing sector imposes enormous responsibilities on social landlords and those delegated to design, build and maintain the housing stock and this will only increase with proposals put forward in the post-fire reports now appearing.

Samuel Heath, the original manufacturer of jamb-mounted door closers, believes that its Powermatic controlled, concealed door closers deliver many benefits that other door closing devices cannot match, not only meeting regulatory performance requirements, but also helping to assure reliability in service, minimise maintenance costs and enhance the comfort, safety and well-being of residents.

Fire and accessibility

Where performance is concerned, the key areas of consideration when selecting door closers are fire safety and accessibility. The industry will be well-aware of the legislation and performance standards governing these, including CE marking, Building Regulations, the Regulatory Reform Order and the Equality Act.

Most reputable door closer manufacturers will satisfy these requirements, but some single-spring jamb-mounted devices struggle with accessibility performance when providing the necessary latching action. Whilst a door closer in itself cannot claim compliance with the requirements of Approved Document M and BS 8300, they do have a significant effect on the doorset’s ability to comply. Door closers such as Powermatic have dual-power mechanisms which assure low opening forces and consistently return operating efficiencies which enable doors to meet the regulatory requirements.

Additional benefits

In addition to the many regulations and performance standards that relate directly to fire safety and accessibility, consideration also needs to be given to the needs of tenants and the situation in which the door closers are being used. Here, again, the performance, functionality and features of particular door closers can provide added benefits that make them more suitable for many social housing applications.

Surface-mounted door closers have protruding mechanical arms and control boxes, which can make them unsuitable for installations where there is restricted space behind the door, for example with 90-degree reveals. They also make the door closer very visible, which can pose challenges in a number of areas, such as safety, well-being and reliability.

Fitting neatly between the door and frame, Powermatic jamb-mounted door closers are completely invisible when the door is closed, and particularly unobtrusive when the door is open. These attributes help to overcome the challenges and offer the high-rise sector a very practical, convenient solution.

Not just a pretty face

Powermatic concealed door closers have long been used by designers and architects to assure the aesthetics of interiors in a wide variety of buildings, notably hotels and high-end apartments. The principle of improved aesthetics is now becoming more widely valued in social housing developments, and it is not only for the sole purpose of a better looking interior; the lack of functional, mechanical devices creates a more homely, less institutionalised atmosphere which contributes towards the comfort and well-being of residents.

A more practical and financially astute reason for selecting a concealed door closer is the fact that they are far less likely to be damaged, whether by a deliberate act, lack of care, misuse or tampering.

This can mean reduced maintenance costs, less inconvenience for residents and more reliable fire safety.

Another benefit of concealment, which is particularly vital in dwellings occupied by tenants with psychological or mental health challenges, is the fact that when the door is closed, concealed door closers do not offer a point from which a ligature can be suspended. Powermatic door closers further reduce this risk as they can be mounted at a low height in the door.

Free swing convenience

Where fire doors need to be free to open in normal operation, or where there might be a risk of a fire door being wedged open, Powermatic Free Swing concealed door closers can provide a useful solution. Connected to the low voltage fire alarm system, the door closer can be set to allow the door to operate normally until the alarm is activated or there is a power shortage, at which point the door closer becomes active and closes the door automatically at a controlled rate. The closer is particularly favoured for care and residential homes, but is equally suited to many similar situations.

Choose wisely

When selecting door closers, specifiers and door manufacturers should be particularly careful to choose products which will stand up to the rigours of day-to-day use in social housing situations and which will perform reliably. Powermatic door closers include a unique twin-power mechanism and undergo exacting cycle testing.

Unlike other jamb-mounted door closers, Powermatics can be adjusted without being removed from the door, further helping to reduce installation and maintenance costs.

Powermatic door closers come with a 10-year warranty and, of course, there is the comfort of knowing that they are manufactured in the UK by Samuel Heath, which, with more than 50 years’ experience, is the foremost authority when it comes to concealed door closers.

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