Why should fire doors be kept closed
All public and shared buildings, along with multi-storey and buildings of multiple occupation, are subject to strict fire safety rules and regulations. Amongst the most prominent – and important – aspects of fire safety are the presence, fitting and function of specialist fire doors. Fire doors are an integral part of fire safety strategy and common sense would suggest that for them to be an effective barrier against potential toxic smoke and flames, they would remain closed at all times – however, it is, unfortunately, quite common-place to find these vital doors propped open for various reasons in buildings!
Here are some reasons why this should never happen:
Fire safety is compromised
The most obvious reason is simply that if these fire doors are propped open then the whole purpose of fire safety is compromised – an open fire door cannot prevent the spread of heat, flames or smoke!
Wedging open a fire door proposes serious risk to a buildings’ inhabitants and structure in the event of a fire outbreak.
It’s a legal requirement
It is, also, illegal to prop open a fire door – if you are responsible for wedging open a dedicated fire door and adjudged to have endangered life by doing so, you are liable for prosecution – and, depending upon the circumstances, could be fined or even imprisoned for breaching fire health and safety laws.
Fire door retainers are the only way to keep them open
The only circumstance in which a fire door can be left open is if they are fitted with fire door retainers – these devices should keep a fire door open until a fire alarm is triggered which will close the door immediately. Any other form of ‘restraint’ for a fire door is NOT to be used – an object used to simply prop a fire door open will not, obviously cause an automatic closure of the door in the event of a fire alarm being triggered and will, therefore, potentially endanger life.
Fire exit doors can be treated differently
Many people confuse fire exits with fire doors – but there are important differences. A fire exit is an external door used as an egress from a building in the event of a fire outbreak. These ‘escape’ doors act as emergency exits and are not necessarily specialist fire doors – they don’t actually need to be fire resistant in their own right. These can be general access points for the building and can be left open. Fire doors, on the other hand, are internal doors specially designed, constructed and fitted to prevent the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
Some fire doors may be positioned as access to and from a building – these doors, however, must remain closed and unobstructed from either side.