Fire Door Safety – Do you know what to do?

A fire door is the difference between life and death.  A suitably fitted fire door with the correct applications can separate a room and withstand a fire for a sufficient amount of time.  Thus allow people to escape from a building. However, where there are deficiencies the door can prove to be a hindrance rather than a help. Following the five simple checks below can help you determine just how effective your doors could be at helping prevent a fire spread through your building and thus protect people and assets.

Check for certification

Is there a label or plug on top (or occasionally on the side) of the door to show it is a certificated fire door? Take a picture on your phone or use a mirror to check. If there is, that’s good news.

Check the gaps

Check that the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm when closed. You can use a £1 coin to give a feel for scale, this is about 3mm thick. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm is not uncommon), but it does depend on the door.   As a rule of thumb, if you can see light under the door, the gap is likely to be too big. It’s good news if the door fits the frame.  Ensure also that it’s not damaged as otherwise smoke and fire could travel through large gaps and cracks.

Check the seals

Are there any intumescent seals around the door or frame, and are they intact with no sign of damage? These seals are usually vital to the fire door’s performance.  They expand if in contact with heat to ensure fire (and in some cases smoke) can’t move through the cracks. If not, the door may not be properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not protect you long enough.

Check the hinges

Are the hinges firmly fixed (three or more of them), with no missing or broken screws? If you see problems, the door is obviously not properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not perform and hold back the fire for long enough.

Check the door closes properly

Open the door about halfway, let go and allow it to close by itself. Does it close firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame? A fire door only works when it’s closed. A fire door is completely useless if it’s wedged open or can’t close fully.

In summary as an employer you have a duty to ensure that your workplace is safe.   Fire door checks and effectiveness are a small part of this requirement. You can get one of your fire marshals to check your fire doors on a monthly basis.

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