Fire safety is not a matter of chance. It requires constant attention. We explore why the importance of working fire doors is often overlooked and why now is a great time to bridge the gap between fire safety and working fire doors.
It’s essential for any building – from schools to hospitals or high-rise residential and commercial facilities. It also doesn’t matter what sector you’re in. Improving fire safety is always a challenge.
It may seem like you only hear of fires in headline disasters, but fires are widespread. In March 2021, there were 151,086 fires in the UK, which is a significant amount. However, the average response time for primary fires (fires in houses and buildings) is 8 minutes, so that’s not too bad.
Fire door installation and other fire-safety equipment play a crucial role in any emergency. They’re rigorously tested, constructed, and certified to the British Standards BS 476: Part 22 or BS EN 1634-1 to ensure they remain fire-resistant for a minimum of 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60) – holding out long enough to cover response times and evacuation. Fire door hardware is also designed to comply with major UK construction product regulations. It is tested under BS EN 1154, BS EN 1155 and BS EN 1634 standards and CE marked.
It is essential to understand the importance of fire door safety. Fire doors are often the first line of defence in protecting people and property in the event of a fire. However, they are only effective if they are installed and maintained appropriately. Yet, as incident reports repeatedly highlight, the significance of fire doors is habitually overlooked.
This year the Fire Safety Act does a great job of highlighting the hazards from fire and including a focus on safety measures that must be taken so we can avoid tragedy. The Building Safety Bill also heralds better preventive measures to ensure buildings are as safe as possible.
Fire doors are a building’s passive fire protection system. They form a barrier and enable a building’s passive protection to compartmentalise the spread of fire and smoke. Wise planners need a fire escape that is safe and easy to use. Safety standards shouldn’t restrict you, and these doors offer an essential way out of a building.
Although fire safety awareness is essential, knowing where potential danger shows up is also crucial. For example, 26,318 fire door maintenance and replacements were scheduled last year, but 65% of these did not progress as planned. And while some may say 2020 was just a fluke, there’s no argument that fire door safety has become too easy to neglect.
It’s clear that not enough people are aware of the risks in fire door safety to make wise decisions. This leads to design choices, lack of standards and general knowledge about the risk of fire doors. There is a massive movement with resources to educate and promote awareness of this issue.
When faced with the same problem, some others are leading by example. ARB, for instance, just recently released a new set of guidelines about fire safety to be included in the architecture curriculum at universities.
Associations and other organisations are working hard to guide the fire door safety industry. They offer support to specifiers, installers, and end-users on various topics like best practices or compliance. So, there is a lot of help available and the necessary resources. So, now is the best time to increase fire safety awareness and education.