2017 sadly provided a litany of high profile fire-related disasters which has bought to light the critically important role of fire doors and reminds responsible individuals of the legal requirements surrounding fire door safety.
There are approximately 3 million new fire doors bought and installed every year in the UK in hospitals, offices, schools and public buildings. Fire doors are critical because in the event of a fire it can be contained in a compartment, keeping smoke and fire trapped for a defined period of time allowing people to escape, be rescued and the fire to be tackled.
A fire in a Portsmouth care home is a glowing example of how fire doors can save lives. The incident could have caused fatalities if the fire doors had not been firmly secured, according to Southsea firefighters. The fire started in a tumble dryer in the laundry room. Fire doors, which had been installed and closed correctly, ensured that the fire did not spread throughout the property and was contained to the room of origin. Watch manager Jason Boh, Southsea Fire Station, said: “The incident could have been a lot worse if fire doors either end of the corridor leading up to the laundry room had not been firmly secured. The fact the fire doors did their job meant no smoke or flames could travel out of that area.” He also added, “If they had been open, we could have been looking at a much different situation. It could have been much more severe and we could have been looking at fatalities as well.”
At Laidlaw, the UK’s largest independent supplier of ironmongery, integrated doorsets, balustrades and security systems they believe that the message is a simple one. Correct fire door hardware can save lives. Selecting certified products from a reputable and reliable source, ensuring proper installation and undertaking regular inspection and maintenance routines will save lives. These are not fit and forget products. Cutting corners on the quality of fire doors and their associated hardware just isn’t an option.
So, how to go about selecting the correct certified fire door hardware? It is a legal requirement that, as of the 1st July 2013, a product that comes under the scope of a harmonised standard must be CE marked before it can be placed onto the market. These products – locks, hinges, door closers, door coordinators, panic and emergency exit devices – will all be stamped with a clear CE mark. In addition to this, a Declaration of Performance (D of P) must be made available for every CE marked product. This is either included with the product in the packaging, or available on the company’s website.
It is worth noting that although internal fire rated doorsets fall into harmonised standard EN 16034:2014, they cannot yet be CE marked as it awaits publication of prEN 14351-2 before this can happen.
As part of the overall fire safety picture, ‘Certifire’ is an independent third-party certification scheme that assures performance, quality, reliability and traceability of fire protection products. Although not a legal requirement, it is recognised by regulatory authorities worldwide, it is an internationally respected mark of fire safety and one of the most authoritative in the industry. Certifire provides comprehensive fire test information as to a product’s suitability for particular fire door types.
For those products listed under the harmonised standard, they can be Certifire approved but by law they must be CE marked and have a D of P.
Building owners and contractors are responsible for ensuring that fire doors have the correct certification. It is worth noting that for a door assembly where the ironmongery and doors are bought separately from different suppliers, the responsibility is on the purchaser to ensure that the hardware components are compatible with the door supplier’s fire test evidence. The detail provided in the Certifire approval documentation can help with this process. Alternatively, if they buy a complete doorset, the ironmongery and door will be provided from a single supplier. Therefore the provision of the fire test evidence for the complete unit will be provided by the supplier and this can be perceived as being a much more straightforward process and a benefit to contractors and building owners.
Laidlaw provide a full range of CE certified ironmongery products and fire tested Orbis integrated doorsets. It is extremely important that these certified products are fitted by a competent installer and that they are inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Fitting and forgetting about fire doors can be extremely dangerous as these products need to be re-visited on regular basis to ensure that they are performing to the best of their ability. The onus is on the building owner/ employer/ occupier to ensure that a maintenance routine is carried out.
In the Laidlaw Maintenance Guide, which is available online, they stress the importance of fire doors being kept in good working order through a regular and appropriate maintenance regime. They offer guidelines for creating a maintenance schedule, highlighting the need to inspect some items more frequently than others, such as door closers that need regular weekly checks to hinges that can be reviewed once a quarter. This allows planning for a robust maintenance programme and for remedial works undertaken immediately. Laidlaw strongly recommend that damaged components are only replaced with like-for-like products to maintain the fire certification…it’s back to not cutting corners on quality and cost.
For professional advice on meeting their responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order, it is recommended that hospitals, offices, schools and public buildings should always use a Certificated FDIS Inspector. At Laidlaw, they have qualified FDIS Certificated Inspectors who can visit, inspect and advise on any fire safety needs.
Laidlaw proudly support the Fire Door Safety Week campaign each year which encourages people to look at the 5-step fire door check provided on the Fire Door Safety Week website and also take the advice of reporting any faulty fire doors.
Laidlaw pride themselves on having the expertise, knowledge and experience to assist in the selection of exactly the right fire safety products and solutions for any type of project.
For more information please visit their Fire Safety page or call the team on 01902 600400.