Considerations when fitting fire doors in care homes
Fire safety is of paramount importance in any public building or anywhere with multiple occupants, but especially so in buildings housing sick or vulnerable residents. Fire safety arrangements in Care Homes have to be carefully considered to ensure the safety of the occupants. Installing good quality internal fire doors is essential for care homes. These will limit the progress and the spread of fire and create time for the staff to evacuate both themselves and the residents to a place of safety.
Internal fire doors in care homes
All resident bedrooms within a care home MUST be fitted with self-closing fire doors. Generally speaking, these internal fire doors are heavy and can be very difficult for the elderly or infirm to open – carrying the danger that they may restrict the mobility and independence of the residents. This leads to the temptation that these doors may be wedged open to allow more free movement for the residents between rooms, thus jeopardising the safety aspects of the fire doors. This practice has been made illegal, and there is now a requirement that all self-closing fire doors must be fitted with a device that holds the door open, but which will release the door when a fire alarm is triggered. This allows the door to close and therefore re-establishes the safety features and helps prevent the spread of fire and harmful smoke.
Self closing door options
There are a couple of options you can adopt to install these safety features. Internal fire doors can be fitted with ‘magnetic retainers’ that are connected directly to the fire alarms. Fire doors fitted with these are required to be tested weekly, as part of your fire alarm testing, and these doors should be closed at night.
Another option is to install battery-operated systems – these are not connected to the fire alarm system, but triggered by the sound of a fire alarm. You should consider though, that these ‘acoustic retainer’ fitted doors cannot be used on internal fire doors leading onto staircases that are the only means of escape.
All fire doors within the care home – individual resident bedroom doors, corridor and common room glazed fire doors and general access commercial doors, must close properly and be regularly inspected.
As always, there are comprehensive guides and advice on these important safety measures available from your local Fire Authority.