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A badly fitted fire door won’t save lives

A badly fitted fire door won’t save lives

We are all aware of the importance of fire doors, and the part they play in protecting lives and property in the event of a fire outbreak. It is a natural assumption on our part, though, that simply because we see a fire door is present, that it is in perfect working order and will do its’ job when required. This, unfortunately, is not always the case – regardless of how good the actual fire door itself is, if it has been incorrectly fitted, or damaged in any way, then it will be compromised, and represents potential danger for those inside that building.

Here are a few aspects people should be aware of:

How a fire door works

The main function of a fire door is to slow down the spread, or escalation, of a fire outbreak. A properly fitted fire door will hold back flames and smoke, and restrict the development of any fire by containing, or slowing down, the development of the fire’s potential passage throughout a building.

Fire doors will create a protected route to safety in the event of a fire outbreak. When a building is being constructed, or updated, all exit points and escape routes are identified. The building is then split into ‘compartments’ which will then be protected through the fitting of fire doors. These fire doors essentially ‘buy the time’ required for a safe evacuation of the building occupants – if these internal fire doors are not correctly fitted, then these escape routes are compromised and lives endangered.

A fire door will provide a degree of protection for anything from 20 minutes upwards, depending upon the actual door specification.

The essential components of a fire door

Seals

Every fire door should be fitted with intumescent seals. These seals are vital to the fire door’s performance as they expand with heat, thus ensuring that fire and smoke are contained within the fire source and doesn’t spread into the adjoining area. These seals should be checked regularly for damage of any kind that may compromise this function.

Glazing

If there are any internal fire doors with glass, then the glazed component must be fire-rated glass. Normal, non-fire rated glass cannot withstand the intense heat generated by a fire, and will therefore break, allowing flames and smoke to spread into adjoining rooms and areas.

Ironmongery

All fire doors should be affixed with at least three hinge sets and should have no broken, or missing screws. The door latches, locks, handles and door-closers must also be fire tested and certificated. Any compromise of these elements can endanger safety.

Signage

In any commercial premises, correct signage is required on all fire doors. Both sides of any fire door should display signs clearly identifying it as such. In the event of a fire, people need to know exactly which doors are fire doors, where they are and how to access them. If fire doors are not clearly signed, then people can leave them propped open, or block access to them, without realising that they may be endangering the safety of others.

Fire door awareness

Fire doors should be properly fitted and maintained in order to perform to their primary function – once fitted they should be checked regularly and, if any aspect of them appears compromised, should be reported to the relevant person immediately.

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