The Fire Door Inspections Scheme (FDIS) has found that a large number of fire doors inspected were not “fit for purpose”.
This is worrying as Fire Doors are a key element of passive fire protection and are particularly important for buildings used as sleeping accommodation, such as residential blocks.
Fire Doors are a key component in effective compartmentation and therefore must meet required standards; for instance, they must be fitted with intumescent strips and cold smoke seals, should fit the frame and be self-closing.
What does the law say?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the primary legislation concerning fire safety in England and Wales. The Fire Safety Order places an obligation on the Responsible Person to ensure that fire doors are ‘subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair’. For example, this means ensuring that they should be at least FD30; providing a minimum of 30 minutes protection.
A secondary piece of legislation, The Fire Safety Bill, is currently progressing through Parliament and once introduced it may potentially give Managing Agents the power to inspect leaseholders’ entrance doors rather than making assumptions on their condition. This will of course require good communication between leaseholder’s and Managing Agents; which is where your resident’s engagement strategy will take effect.
Where is a Fire-Rated Door required?
In a block of flats, front entrance doors and any other doors leading onto the communal areas are required to be fire doors. This is because fire doors are crucial for the compartmentation of a building and each flat should be a self-contained, fire-resisting compartment.
In residential blocks, most fires occur within the flats. Therefore, flat entrance doors are required to be fire doors in order to hold back fire and smoke for at least 30 minutes to stop it from spreading into the common parts. Furthermore, any door leading onto the communal areas, such as at the top of stairs, should be a fire door in order to protect the communal areas and the escape routes.
Who is responsible for Fire Door Inspections in Residential Blocks?
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the responsible persons (be it the Freeholder/Landlord or Managing Agent) to ensure that tenants front doors in communal areas meet compliance and are regularly inspected.
Once the Fire Safety Bill comes into action, Freeholders, RMC’s and Managing Agents will have a clearer legal obligation to ensure that the residents’ entrance doors are suitable and sufficient in preventing the spread of smoke and flames. In fact, they will need to ensure that all Leaseholders’ fire doors leading onto escape routes are, and remain, sufficiently Fire Rated.
Why are Fire Door Inspections So Important?
Like most things, fire doors need to be inspected regularly to ensure they are still functioning effectively and that no changes have been made. This is something that can only be achieved through regular Fire Door Inspections that should be undertaken by a qualified and competent person or organisation.
You can find out more about the required standards for fire doors here.